Friday, March 22, 2019

My Introduction to CBD Oil and Vaping: Part TWO

Greetings, Internet friends and neighbors, and family members of various subsets!

This is PART TWO of My Introduction to CBD Oil and Vaping. If you haven't read Part One, then I recommend you do so now.
Also, I said in Part One that I would post this 'tomorrow,' and I actually had almost all of it written, BUT I realized I needed to expand and extend the transition, and then...I don't know. Life.

So, at the end of Part One, I said that in early 2013 a (relatively) new pain treatment gave me another chance at life. That treatment, the Butrans patch, managed my chronic pain from the auto-immune condition I have called ankylosing spondylitis. It does so without goofing my head, putting me to sleep, causing constipation, and it's administered through a weekly patch I stick on my arm. It's a much, MUCH smaller dose of medication; it's so small, that it has NEVER shown up on  ANY of the drug screens I've taken over the last six years.

Most of you will just accept my word for it: the patch works for me. If you need some data to back that up, I've got the citations and the computations, and I can send them to you. Just make the request in the comments.

Now, the Butrans patch ONLY replaced the 120 mg dose of long-acting morphine. For breakthrough pain, I WAS being prescribed (3) 15 mg tablets of morphine per day; but since I was refusing morphine, they gave me (initially) a scrip for (4) 10 mg hydrocodone + 325 acetaminophen per day, later decreased at my request to 3/day. So, for the past six years, almost every day, I have taken 30 mg of hydrocodone and 975 mg of acetaminophen. 

I looked for other options, but they just didn't exist for me. A couple of years ago, I started walking regularly, and I've lost about fifty pounds, and that helped A LOT. It's a two-edged sword, though; sometimes the exercise triggers a pain event, and I'm shut down, possibly for days. I know walking in a swimming pool would help, but for some reason/reasons, none of which are money, I just can't seem to make that happen. 

I keep my eyes and ears open for drug trials, but nothing has come up that fits. I even tried acupuncture, just because, and experienced no benefit. I've had spinal injections, and radio-frequency treatments (that's where they burn off a nerve), and I get no lasting improvement.

And I just kept on truckin.' 

Until about six weeks ago, when I began to experience  VERY different pain than I am accustomed to; it came in the form of sharp, piercing pain in the back, striking in different locations. Ice-picks. EXCEEDINGLY localized. Not related to any injury or event I could recall.

 I used lidocaine in an ointment or a patch, sucked it up, and waited it out, while trying to carry on life as well as possible. The pain frequently is in an area I can't reach, so I taught my kids and grandkids to paint Papa's back with the big fat pen. Three-year-old grandson Eliott LOVES painting Papa's back!

It wasn't going away, so I finally sought help, from my pain clinic, and I made my first appointment with a chiropractor in 12 years.

I was flabbergasted when two different health professionals, from OPPOSITE ends of the spectrum in terms of philosophies and practices, suggested that I might want to try something called CBD oil for some of the breakthrough pain I was experiencing. 

I had been prepped, a very little bit, for the recommendation. An artist friend asked me if I would do some copy for some websites he is developing for a hemp farm, which was just recently given federal and state approval. In researching it, I discovered that not all of those plants are the same; there are some that produce THC, which is the chemical that gets you high when you smoke pot, and there are others that produce little or no THC. Those latter are the plants receiving approval now, and the fibers are used in making rope, clothing, and paper; and from the other parts of the plant, they extract this substance referred to as CBD oil.

Now, CBD oil has been legal to own and use in Georgia for a bit; however, they forgot that to own it and use it, it needs to be produced. So, this year, the legislature is fixing the law so that you can manufacture, sell, and transport it. THIS IS NOT POT! This is an extract that has less than 0.3% THC in it; you could smoke a ton of it, and not get a buzz. And the oil has been demonstrated to be of great benefit to patients with a seizure disorder, and anecdotal data shows it's good for....everything.

Please note: any time I hear that a substance is good for everything, I immediately think it's not good for anything. That's true, whether we are talking about soap, tools, or plant extract. If you over-promote it, then I'm sitting on the Skeptic Couch; extravagant claims require extravagant proof.

And that proof simply is NOT available. Why, you ask? Well, that's an excellent question. And the answer is based on all of the run-off from The War on Drugs. The War on Drugs says pot is evil, it will hook you, it supports terrorism, it has no medical use; and because the DEA classifies it as a Schedule I drug, it's (practically) impossible to do any research on it. Schedule I drugs, including heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. And up to VERY recently, that was the final word.

No longer. The non-THC CBD oil has been gradually introduced, and ANECDOTAL evidence supports certain health benefits. However, the oil has NOT been accepted as a food supplement by the FDA, and it's CERTAINLY not a medicine, so the companies that produce it are not making any claims.  The claims seem to come by word of mouth, whether technologically boosted or not.

And last week, the medical professional at the pain clinic told me that it HAD been effective for a LOT of people, and there was no research to support that, because the government won't authorize it; and that I would just have to find a combination of method and amount that gave me results. She told me that vaping got the medication in my system quickest, but that using the sublingual tincture had a longer lasting impact. She warned me not to go cheap, and assured me that this would NOT cause me to fail the drug screens performed on me randomly. And I had to get her to repeat all that, because I was stunned the first time through, and I needed to take notes.

The next day, I had an appointment with a chiropractor, the first time I'd seen one in at least 12 years. Before 2007,  I went regularly, the combination of adjustments and massage gave me great relief from back pain. However, in 2007, things collapsed for me, and I stopped going. 

This chiropractor, a dear, sweet kindly grandmother-type, with SUPER-POWER strength in her hands, ALSO recommended I try CBD oil for pain. And then, she patted my shoulder and spoke kindly to me when I burst into tears. She heard me out, and gave me the EMOTIONAL assurances I needed to try this.

You see, I had one minor and two major concerns about the use of the oil. 

The minor concern had to do with the legality of the treatment. In Georgia, that's a strange situation at the moment, because it IS legal to have and use CBD; it's not currently legal to sell it, produce it, or transport it. A bill to legalize the entire process passed the Georgia House earlier this month and is now in the Senate committee. 

Major concern #1: I have 31+ years sober, and I fought a pretty good fight to get here.  I don't want to do ANYTHING that would jeopardize my sobriety.

Major concern #2: Back when I was an idiot, in the late 1960's into the 1970's, I DID try to smoke pot, and it was not a good experience for me.  It made me psychotic and paranoid, and the effects lasted LONG after any intoxication wore off. I don't want to do ANYTHING that would jeopardize my sanity.

What else might happen? I've also experienced some degree of social stigma in the past, because there are those who reject the idea that, as an alcoholic,  I use narcotics for pain management. (I used to be one of those, before MY pain became an issue.)
I also know that there are those who don't like my hair, my beard, my interracial family, my motorcycle, my accumulation of sharp pointy things and boomsticks, and the fact that I have two cats and no dogs. I'm not worried about that; meepers gotta meep. 

But I based my decision on GOOD information from the two medical professionals who suggested this might work for me, and I did my homework. I talked to people face-to-face, and did a LOT of reading and google-fu. And I talked to a pharmacist. What I found reassured me.

Straight CBD oil has no THC; it will not get me high, and it will not trigger a drug screen. It's very fast-acting, if you vape it; if you drop the oil under the tongue, it acts slower, but lasts longer.

So, with fear and trembling, I entered the store, and made the purchase.

NOTE: There ARE 'blended' oils available that have some measurable amount of THC in them. Some patients have found that a higher amount of THC makes the sought effect of the CBD more likely. These blended oils are also permitted in Georgia, but there is a "Low THC Permit" issued by the Department of Health for the user to be protected from criminal prosecution.
So, what am I using? This: 
The white part is the battery. The yellow fluid is the CBD oil.

And what has been the result? Well, if you remember, I am prescribed (3) pain pills per day for break-through pain. Each contains 10 mg hydrocodone and 325 mg acetaminophen tablets. Here's how the week has gone since Sunday:

Yup. What you are seeing is the number of pills I had LEFT OVER at the end of the day.  On Sunday, 1.5 pills; on Monday, all three; on Tuesday, two pills; On Wednesday, all three; on Thursday, two pills. At as of lunch time on Friday, I've had to take: nothing. Since Sunday, I've taken 3.5 pills; in the past, I would have taken at least 16, depending on how today was going.

I CANNOT give you a definitive statement that vaping the CBD oil has resulted in lower pain. For one thing, that precious, PRECIOUS kindly grandmother-type chiropractor popped my back and neck a couple of times; it was so loud, YOU probably heard it. For ANOTHER thing, I WANT it to work. This MIGHT be a placebo. 
You may notice that I'm not including a picture of Dr, Kim Vaccaro. That's because the only picture on her website has her holding what I assume to be a grandchild, and the smile on her face is so huge that it lights up the picture. So far, I have been able to satisfy my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, that this woman who is putting her hands on my body is a sweet, gentle, kindly grandmother type. The website picture would get me in hot water. Look it up yourself if you want to, but I'M not providing a direct link! 

It might be a real effect, and it might not. You know what? I don't care. Pain is all perception, anyway, and so if I THINK it's working, then that's a win. 

I'm gonna close here. There is SO much more to say, and what I REALLY want to say to all those other chronic pain sufferers out there: Let's all go to Washington, and camp out in our congressional delegations' offices, and ask them nicely to please let the government test this stuff. It MIGHT set some of us free!

Peace be on your household.

Monday, March 18, 2019

My Introduction to CBD Oil and Vaping: Part ONE

Greetings, friends and neighbors out there in Internet Land, and a big shout out to my family who turn to this channel from time to time. 

What this is. This is the promised post on the matter of pain. It has come about because of a peculiar attack of physical pain that hit me at the end of January: with intermittent, sharp, stabbing pains in different areas of my back. The attacks lasted about six weeks before I sought relief. Soon, however, my physical pain was overshadowed by  mental and emotional pain, and that's really the bigger issue, and the reason for this post.

You see, it MAY be (and the verdict isn't in, yet!) that there is a form of pain relief that I haven't known about, due to other-than-medical reasons. That's a BIG deal to me; I suffer from chronic pain, due to an inherited condition called ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a systemic auto-immune disease which manifests in my case by a little bit of spine problems, and a BUCKETLOAD of inflammation.

Act One: My intro to chronic pain, and pain management.  How much is a bucketload? Well, there is something called "C-Reactive Protein." That's a substance your liver makes, in response to inflammation. 
Normal range is 0.0 - 4.9 mg/L. In September 2004, they tested me.
Mine was 12.4 mg/L.

So, they tested me again. My doc was worried there was something wrong with my heart. (SPOILER ALERT: THERE WASN'T). This one specifically rated my C-Reactive Protein level as a cardiac factor; because if there is inflammation of the cardiac arteries, that could indicate a heart attack is likely. 
A reading below 1.0 mg/L means you are in good shape. From there up to 3.0, not much issue. Above 3.0, you are a high risk for a cardiac event. 
My level was 14.5 mg/L, the second time they tested it. Obviously, something was WRONG!
BUT, all the tests I had been taking to study my heart showed it was in great shape.

In May, 2005, they discovered I was a Neanderthal, by detecting the presence of Human Leukocyte Antigen, subtype B27 (HLA-B27). I was good with that. I rather admire Neanderthals, and it comforted me to know that all the pain I was experiencing was real, and not in my head. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Keep as flexible as you can, and the pain is managed by medications.

Act Two: How that turned out. Unfortunately for me, the level of narcotics I needed to manage my pain also tended to make me non-functional. Two years later, I was forced to take a medical retirement from a job I loved, because between the pain, the side effects of drowsiness the meds caused, and the insomnia the meds brought, I was no longer safe to have around a middle school. And two weeks later, I discovered my marriage (29 years, at that point) was over. 

So, I sat down. And I didn't do anything for three years. But then I stood up, and re-entered the world, and met my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, on Christmas Day, 2010, and you can read THAT story here.

In March of 2012, my daily dosage of morphine was 120 mg of extended release morphine, plus (3) 15 mg tablets of fast-acting morphine, for a total daily dose of 165 mg. That's a lot; one citation I read said that a lethal overdose can happen with a dose of 200 mg. 
My last prescription bottle for 120 mg morphine
A Butrans patch

I wasn't dying, but I knew I wasn't able to be the husband and father I was called to be, so I quit. I went cold turkey on the spot, and after I had gone through the worst of it, I called the pain clinic to tell them what I had done. As expected, they freaked a little.  

I didn't care. I remained their patient, and at the suggestion of an orthopedic surgeon who had put plates in my neck several years prior, prescribed a powerful non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called meloxicam (Mobic). They gave me a scrip for 30 hydrocodone tablets as emergency pain relief, which lasted from April through the end of the year. It was a great arrangement, and it lasted until my gut started to bleed in December or January.
It's an unfortunate side effect that hits some people, and it means they won't ever be able to take NSAIDS, not even aspirin.

But, without the meloxicam, I HAD to have something for the pain. I wasn't about to go on morphine again as a matter of pride. Sure, it may be a trivial, or only symbolic victory, but it's MY victory, I paid for it, and I'm keeping it. That is NOT meant as a criticism of ANYBODY, particularly anybody who is currently having their pain managed for morphine! But I wasn't going to take that medicine again.

Fortunately, there was another pain management tool that was available at that time: the Butrans patch. It dispenses tiny doses of medication, every hour, for a week. And, it did NOT goof my head, make me drowsy, or cause constipation. I couldn't even tell that I had the medication in  my system; except that, when I was trying to see if it really DID work, and left it off for a day or so, the pain came back with a vengeance. I was prescribed the patch, and (initially) (4) 10 mg hydrocodone per day for break-through pain. Since that time, my dose is down to three per day. Some days have been a little rough, BUT:

Butrans gave me another chance at life.


I think that's a good stopping place. I'll pick this up tomorrow.

Peace be on your household.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Rise UP! (In the A. M.)

Greetings to all of my internet friends and neighbors, delightful family who read this, and whoever happens to stop by.

People stop me on the street, and they say:
"Papa Pat, you are retired, and do not have to be anywhere in the morning. And your sweet and precious children, Kenneth and Alicia, don't have to be on the bus until  the hour of 8:30 AM.
Middle Schoolers Kenneth and Alicia

 "So why, pray tell, do you rise at 5:15 AM with your gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA?"
Pat and Vanessa. (Not at 5:15 AM)

Okay, I lied about that. Nobody has EVER asked me that question, and Alicia said if they did, it would be weird and stalker-y.
But they might. It could happen. Really! And I have part of the answer.

By doing that, I am assured that my day will begin in peace, as I prepare ginger tea for the two of us, and we sit on the couch in the living room and talk about whatever we wish. Then, I escort her to her car, and we finish our morning ritual with sweet words, prayers, and kisses, out there in front of God, the neighbors, and everybody.

Now, here's what happens if I DON'T do that. (An Actual Case Study! Well, what happened this morning.)

After saying the last "Love You" in the driveway, I come back upstairs to do some work before I wake K & A. And if I had not already started my day with peace, my day would have started with discovering that my laptop did not recognize my mouse. And it didn't recognize the back up mouse. And it might have been a battery issue, but swapping out batteries didn't work, and I couldn't CHECK the battery because ONE of my multi-meters had gone missing, and in the other one....the battery was dead.

Now, at this point, all I have been successful in doing is opening a file. I have two (Mouses? Mice?) pointing devices taken apart, batteries on my desk, and I'm trying to decide if I want to remove the back of my second multi-meter to change batteries in it. It's time to wake up the kids. I have spent 45 minutes accomplishing: zip.

So, YOU be the judge. Is that the kind of start you want for your day? I think not! And because I had actually started it an hour and a half earlier, it wasn't the start of my day, just chapter two. And chapter two matters relatively little. Finish as you begin, they say. Or something.


Next week, I will talk to you about a bout with physical pain, which is unpleasant and inevitable, and some mental pain, which is a LOT worse, mostly because I did it to myself.

Peace be on your household.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Steel-Eye McGinty and the Fight for Creativity

Greetings and well-wishes to you all, my dear Internet friends and neighbors, precious family, and especially all those patient authors who are waiting for a review.

It has been a week since I last made a post here, and much, much longer than that since I have been able to read to any good purpose, specifically with respect to writing a review.
It is not from a lack of appropriate material; I have (at least) 10 books in my TBR&R queue, and my perception, based on the authors, titles, and covers, is that these are books I will VASTLY enjoy. And some of those authors are important to me!
Behold, I shall conceal nothing from you: the last several weeks have been a challenge.

Not all is my story to tell. I have related a bit of the Georgia Monsoon of 2019 Septic Tank Disaster in my last post.
I have NOT mentioned the new, different, agonizing, sharp, stabbing, localized, intermittent, and migratory back pain I have been experiencing for the past six weeks. (More on that in a later post!)
And I don't recall if I have included a statement about the simultaneous failures-to-function-correctly status of our refrigerator, followed by the dryer and washing machine (those last two in the same day).
If those were not occurring in MY house, they would be brief, transitory, insignificant events, compared to what some of my dear ones are facing.
All of them, though, have contributed in some way to my inability to read.

If there is a virus that causes Writer's Block, then perhaps Reader's Block is a mutation.  And perhaps inspiring a burst of creativity will help.
With that in mind, I will relate to you one of the famous McGinty stories, composed a couple of decades ago for the Young Moose, now 27 years of age.
The Young Moose, 1996

Once upon a time there was a man called Steel-Eye McGinty. That wasn't his real name; his real name was Henry McGinty, but nobody called him that. He had lots of brothers and uncles and cousins, such as Gordon and James and Howard and Cecil, but nobody called them by those names. Everybody called them Tweety-Bird McGinty and Iron Pants McGinty and Crow Bar McGinty and Tow-Truck McGinty. Everybody, that is, except for their grandmother. She said all those names were a bunch of foolishness. She wasn't a McGinty; she was a McGillicuddy.

Henry McGinty got his name this way: He was not very smart, and not very strong, but he was as sweet as the day was long and he was the best mechanic and driver anyone had ever seen. He was hired by the mayor, and he took care of the trucks and buses and cars for the town, and he drove the mayor wherever he needed to go. He always took the best way (this was before the days of global satellites and traffic reports), and he got the mayor where he needed to go, on time and safely. The mayor had to go a LOT of places, because being the mayor, he had to promote the town's syrup factory, and he had to go see people all across the state to arrange to buy sugar cane and sell syrup. Everybody liked the mayor, because he took good care of their jobs, and he always had time to talk to anybody.

The mayor liked to talk. On the long trips across the state, he talked a lot with Henry (this was before cell phones; today, he probably would have been talking business with other people), about life, the universe, and everything. Henry liked those talks; they gave him a lot to think about, and the mayor was always interested in hearing what Henry had to say.

Henry especially like the way that the mayor helped people. He liked fixing the trucks and buses and cars, and he really liked driving the mayor, but he began thinking that he wanted to help people, too. He and the mayor used to talk about that on those trips. The mayor told Henry that he WAS helping people, because without Henry, he wouldn't be able to go visit farmers to buy sugar cane, and then the syrup factory would be hurt. Henry understood that, but he wanted to do more. But Henry knew he wasn't very smart, and he wasn't very strong, and he didn't make much money. What he really wanted to do was to go to other places, poor places, where farmers couldn't grow sugar cane because they didn't have enough water, and help them. He just didn't know how to do that.

His uncle Fill-up McGinty told Henry to just Do The Next Right Thing. Henry said he didn't know what the Next Right Thing was, and Fill-Up told him to Fully Rely On God (Fill-Up was a part-time preacher, but a very nice person anyway). Fill-Up told him some other things, too, but Do The Next Right Thing and Fully Rely On God were the things Henry remembered. For a while, he thought he should be a missionary to China, but Uncle Fill-Up explained that he didn't have to do that, and it was probably a bad idea anyway.

So, Henry and the mayor kept travelling, and they talked about syrup and the sugar cane crop, and water for irrigation,  The mayor was interested in Henry's plans to help people, and he told Henry that he thought Uncle Fill-Up was right. They were talking about ways in which Henry could know what the Next Right Thing was, headed east on US Hwy 82, when the chains on a log truck coming toward them broke, and dumped it's load in front of their car. Henry had just the barest moment to see it coming, and the last thing he saw was a log coming through the windshield.

Later, Henry found out that he had managed to steer the car just enough to the right that the log didn't kill him or the mayor. The mayor, in fact, didn't have a scratch on him, but Henry lost his left eye. The State Patrol had called in a medevac helicopter, and he was in the Trauma Center in Macon fast enough that they were able to save his life, but glass and pine splinters had damaged his eye so bad it had to be removed. He had a concussion , and a deep cut to his left arm (the mayor had used his belt to make a tourniquet to keep him from bleeding out), but they expected him to recover fully, except he would meed a prosthetic eye, and he needed some physical therapy for his left arm and hand..

When he was well enough to understand, they explained to him that he had a big insurance settlement coming, and that all his medical expenses were covered. That included $8,500 for an ocularist to make him a prosthetic eye that would be so real that no one could tell the difference. It would move just like his good right eye. The Georgia Eye Institute in Savannah would take care of everything.

And that's when Henry told them "No!"

He found out he would still be able to drive, once he learned how to adjust for depth perception, and he could still be a mechanic. He told them that he was going to Fully Rely On God, and Do The Next Right Thing, and he wanted to give the money to an irrigation project in South Sudan to help them grow sugar cane. He wouldn't change his mind, and after talking with him, the mayor and his family all gave him their support. The money went to the South Sudan, Education and Peace Building project, as a Designated Gift.

Since he refused to buy the prosthetic eye, he tried wearing an eye patch. He thought that made him look too much like a pirate, though. His physical therapist was having him playing with ball bearings to help his hand, and he decided to see if one of those would fit his eye socket. It did, perfectly! He also had to do some painting, to help his fine motor control, and he tried painting different designs on the ball bearing so it wouldn't look like he had Terminator eyes. At first, his art was pretty bad, and it never got REALLY great, but the kids liked it when they saw his new designs, and they started calling him Steel-Eye.

Steel-Eye remains happy with his choice. He has the internet now, and he is able to check up on the status of the sugar cane project. It is going well.
Kenana Sugar Cane

Although he does not seek publicity, his story has inspired many others. He has even had a hymn written about him, and although he says he can't sing a lick, he is often heard to be humming the tune.

Steel-Eye will trust Him
Steel-Eye will follow
Steel-Eye will listen to His every call
When the storm rages on
And he  can't find his way
Steel-Eye will trust you, Lord
So, now nobody calls him Henry; everybody calls him Steel-Eye. Everybody, that is, except for his grandmother. She thinks these nicknames are a load of foolishness. She's not a McGinty; she's a McGillicuddy.

And...that's the end of that.
Sure, it's a long story for the punch line, but I was almost there already from choir practice, and from telling Young Moose the McGinty stories, so I just went with it. If you'd like to hear the REAL words, click here.

I'm hoping this will jump-start my creativity, and I can start reading and reviewing again. If not, perhaps it will serve to amuse. And, if I can bring a smile to faces, then I smile as well.

Peace be on your household.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Angels: A F.R.O.G for Vanessa, a T.O.A.D. for Pat

Greetings, and abundant blessings to my dear internet friends, my neighbors, my beloved and beleaguered family, and to whoever in my Home Group reads this.

This is a post about angels.

In 1978, my wild and capricious lifestyle best thinking lead me to enroll in seminary, and to take a class in New Testament Greek. I had prepped the summer before by learning the Greek alphabet, and I suppose that did help a bit.

The very first Greek work that caught my attention was "ἄγγελος," and I think the best I can do to represent that in our lettering system is "aggelos." The Greek letters are alpha, gamma, gamma, epsilon, lambda, omicron, sigma.

"Hmm," I thought. "That's almost the same as 'angel,'  but there is no ' (the Greek letter 'nu') to represent the 'n' sound."

And shortly afterward, I learned my first REAL Greek lesson: when there are two gammas written together,"γγ", the sound is changed to 'ng'.
And shortly after THAT, I learned my SECOND Greek lesson, and one of the more important lessons I learned in that entire year: the word "ἄγγελος" in all its' forms, singular, plural, etc,  "ἄγγελόν", "ἀγγέλων",  "ἀγγέλους", means "messenger." 

That's right: an angel is a messenger. 

And I will extrapolate only SLIGHTLY, and say that a message from God is carried by: an angel.

I have written about frog visits before, which came at a time of crisis. If you click on that link, you will see the first visitation, along with the circumstances. The second visitation came just about a year ago; another cute little green frog appeared in the living room.

Now, I THOUGHT that our current crisis was a septic tank that is non-functional due to the high water table from the rains we have had over the last two weeks. Later events changed my perspective on that, but it is true that all this past week, I have to be stationed downstairs with the Ridgid Blower Vac. I yell "GO," and they wash or flush or shower, and they get to use 16 gallons of water until I yell "STOP STOP STOP!"  (BTW: if you click on the Ridgid link, it will open a window on Amazon, where you can buy the kind of blower vac I am using. But even if you DON'T buy anything, click on the link anyway. It makes me happy when people click on the links in my blog.)

But, on Monday, as I was vacuuming out the drainage pipes, I found this little fellow swimming in the sewage I had just vacuumed up:

I washed him off and stuck him in a terrarium made out of a cardboard box.

Now, TWICE in recent years, we have had tiny green frogs appear in our immediate environment; that's a bit unusual, as we don't live near ANY water; no pond, stream, nothing. And the first frog appeared in our CAR in the Kroger parking lot, and the second frog appeared in our living room. Tiny, green, cute.

But on BOTH occasions, we were facing a tough decision about family, and whether or not we were going to offer housing.  And, it was bugging us both, but I think it was bugging my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, more.

It was on that first occasion that I realized the significance:  FROG is the acronym for Fully Rely On God. And it took a bit, but my wife DID understand that there is more to receiving a message from God than just hanging out at night in a field, keeping watch over sheep. Sometimes the message comes more subtly than that, perhaps so subtly, that it takes a while to accept the TRUTH:  there is a message for you.

And if there is a message, there is a messenger, and therefore, as I explained to Vanessa, the frog is an angel. And we both were able to accept the message to Fully Rely OGod. And it was a great comfort to us in the days following.

By the way: with the appearance of the second frog, right before we had to take grandchildren into our home for over two months, at first Vanessa was having a hard time with the NATURE of the messenger. IT WAS A FROG! IN HER LIVING ROOM! And at first, that's all she could comprehend. But I helped her get past that point, so that she could   Fully Rely OGod; I reminded her that God had other messengers. And if she couldn't hear the message of   Fully Rely OGod, perhaps the NEXT message was Don't Rely Again, Girl, On Nothing: DRAGON! (I was JOKING, I was JOKING!)

Fast forward to two weeks ago, when the rains hit hard. The basement flooded, and we discovered it at 6:15 on Monday morning, as I was walking Vanessa to her car to go to work. It made her very, very upset; but I eased her past it, and told her repeatedly that I was going to take care of it, that there were things she could do, and things that I could do, and this was one of the things that she could NOT do, and one of the things that I COULD. And she was able to move on, after I let her know that afternoon that I had vacuumed the basement dry.

Fortunately, we didn't know at the time that the rains would keep coming until the ground was so saturated that our septic system couldn't handle it. And it's been about two weeks now that every usage of water has to be matched with usage of the wet-vac.

And then, I found the messenger. But it wasn't a FROG; it's a TOAD. And Vanessa really doesn't have a problem with  Fully Relying OGod. And then I got It. Or, part of It. And then another It. And yesterday, I got the rest of It.
The message wasn't for Vanessa; it was for me. Before the Messenger from God appeared, I was VERY angry with whoever had flushed Wet-Wipes down the toilet, because you can't do that to a septic tank. But once the Messenger showed up, I was at peace.

And the message was: we got a message! God cared enough about what our condition was that He sent us a message! We got the package, but we didn't know what was in it; but it was tremendously comforting to know that He was watching, and He sent us a message.
Yesterday, as I was vacuuming up water so the kids could take showers before school, I was thinking about the significance of getting a TOAD. What does TOAD mean?

It was deeply personal; I won't go farther than to say I have a history of struggling with feeling incompetent. And then I saw God's message in the TOAD: Take On, And Do.

It's a tremendously affirming message to me, that God has found me worthy to Take On, And Do.He trusts me to take care of His family. He is confident in my ability to handle this, to do what I can, and when I see that I can't accomplish something, to reach out for help.  Take On, And Do;He is saying to me, once again: "You are not worthless." 

That's huge.

Ya know what's NOT huge? The septic tank situation. Oh, they are still there; the trip I made to Home Depot to get some parts I thought I needed was MUCH, MUCH less than a success. As soon as I get THIS posted, I'm going to spend several hours shuttling between hooking up the blower-vac and the dishwasher. and the toilets, and maybe the washing machine, and I'd LIKE to have the time to drill into my yard and find out if the Infiltrator system I have really IS full of water, or if the problem lies elsewhere. I'm betting on 'elsewhere' at the moment. I have a call in to my oldest buddy from back in the 60's who is a retired Genius Plumber, and I'm hoping he can speak a word of clarification.

But it's NOT huge, it's not even a problem. If you have the resources to deal with circumstances, they are merely arrangements, or opportunities. I have had the opportunity to serve my family. And I have had the opportunity to serve Angel, the tiny TOAD who has been hanging out with me in my man cave for the past three nights, when the temperatures dropped below freezing. It's DEFINITELY worth doing:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Heb 13:2, NASB)

But the outside temp is now 47 degrees, and so I shall close this post, and release Angel into the wild, and then Take On, And Do.

Peace be on your household.