I have shingles.

Did you know that you could be 29 years old and get the shingles? Jeff diagnosed me. No offense to the doctors of the world, but with WebMD, we are not only musicians, we are highly skilled practitioners of medicine as well. My aunt is going to kill me for saying that.
Anyways, apparently shingles happen in older people, people with weakened immune systems, or people under "extreme duress." I think that last word is Latin for really stressed out.

So I got the classic shingles rash on my lower back. Then my ribs started aching. Then it hurt to put on my clothes. Then the rash moved to my stomach but stayed on the left hand side of my body. Then it felt like I had been stampeded by longhorn and wolves (wolves are fast so I imagine they hurt real bad once they run over you that fast). And now it just feels like I have the flu, the kind of flu where it hurts to put your clothes on flu. With my luck... probably swine flu.
If you keep up with the band you know that we have had, yet another, incredible streak of bad luck. The guys hit a huge oak tree that had fallen into the middle of a windy, twisty, 2-lane country road. It was midnight, after a show, and it was raining. When I saw the pictures and they showed me what part of the road it happened on, I felt sick. They were in two cars. The van, and the little car behind them. If the little car would have gone first, they would have been really, really hurt. Maybe worse. It was that bad.
So, a week before we start a tour with Sanctus Real the van is totaled and we have no way to make it to our 17 shows. Right now the bill for the van is at about $6,000 which insurance will cover most of; but the bill for renting another van is about $3,000. Our fans, friends, and family are helping raise money on the Addison Road website to get us back out on the road and continue doing our ministry and music. You can go to our website if you want to help out.
And I...
I am just laughing. I mean, what else can you do?
The weekend before our last big tour with Mercy Me and Jeremy Camp, the entire van and trailer were stolen! This time around they are totaled! I have shingles. Ryan blew his back out and has not been able to really walk all week. We have both been at doctors, limpin' around like we got no teeth and have lost our hearing. There is a call from a collection agency on Monday because somehow I missed one of Annie's hospital bills, that I swear I have never seen, and now we owe some really mean people in Ohio lots of money we didn't know about and now our credit will probably never recover and now we will have to live in a Winnebago down by the river...
I also missed an interview this past week. Not once. Not twice. But three times in a row with the same couple and I am pretty sure I have been officially blackballed in the state of New York. I'm sorry. That one maybe makes me feel a little more awful than the other things. To stand people up... on accident... but still, ugh, I hate being irresponsible.
And in the midst of all of this, all I can do is laugh. And then cry. And then cuss. And then lay in bed and eat ice cream. And then start the cycle all over again. I have said it previously, but it has just been a long, long month. I can usually take punches pretty well; but sometimes the other guy has to let you up for air before he continues.
I did what I had to do. I called a counselor in town that only sees christian artists and their families and said, "I need help." They saw me right away. I asked my friends and church back home for prayer. Intense, "God, please help George Bailey," prayer. I went to the doctor for an official shingles diagnosis and got the medicine. And I made myself stop. One morning I just skipped a writing session and went and sat down with me, myself, and God and just got still. I decided to cancel writing sessions for the rest of the week. I took a nap or two. I held Annie more than usual. And I simply decided... I will value myself enough to take care of myself. If I am so stressed about money and the curve balls life is throwing us that I have the freakin shingles... there is a problem.
My life is too precious for such a waste of toxic energy.
So, in an effort to de-stress, to let go, to welcome in joy, to trust, I mean really TRUST that the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want... I am counting the quite small, beautiful moments tonight that shine bigger and scream louder than that other garbage.
*I had the most fun radio interview yesterday with Wally at Way FM Nashville; he makes me laugh. I love good DJ's. And there are a lot of them out there.
*The leaves are turning colors and people in Franklin, Tennessee have big pumpkins out everywhere. I love pumpkins.
*The people in Las Vegas, Nevada last weekend were amazing. Kind, hard working, and genuinely sincere. We met two great sisters, Natalee and Kimberly, who came to our hotel on Sunday to watch Annie for a few hours so we could go swimming. I love swimming. And I love good babysitters.
*My pastor and his wife are taking Ryan and I to see the Dallas Cowboys on Monday. Enough said. I love Monday Night football.
*Annie has learned how to roll off of her little mattress on the ground this week. She ends up in the bathroom or hallway before I find her and she looks like a little squirmy, dying cockroach. She cries like a dying cat and when I go and find her and tell her I am there, her eyes pop open. And she has the biggest, most beautiful grin on her face. Even at 3:00 a.m. when she has rolled out of her little room and down the hall... I swear she is an angel. I love that kid.
*Someone stuck up for me this week, which meant I didn't have to. Or at least didn't want to as badly. It always feels good to know someone loves you enough to say, "Hey, back off, nobody asked your opinion."
*In less than 24 hours people from all over the country and even Canada have almost sent the band enough money to help us rent a van so we can make it on tour next week. Some people send $5... and this means a lot to me. It means they have little, but they are still doing something, and to me, that is beautiful. I don't care how little it is; when God lays something on our hearts, whether it is Katie or your next door neighbor or the dude on the street corner... something is better than nothing. I believe God honors that. I love people who do something.
* I am completely in love with the band Need to Breathe. Their CD and their live show make me happy to be an artist.
The new Donald Miller book is out; it is getting so close to all the fun things fall; I am 28 1/2 years old and it is almost my birthday; an amazing girl who I have not even thanked yet wanted to do something sweet for me and is sending me to a spa to get my hair done by a real person (yay, yay, yay!!!! I CANNOT wait); Annie is going to spend the night with her grandparents this week so Ryan and I can have a break; in three nights I will be in my bed for the first time in a month; tons of people are raising money for sweet Katie and the orphans and malnourished children in her Ugandan village; God has given me humor, health, and renewal, sweet, desperate renewal; my parents are planning a big family trip to see my sister in Hawaii over Christmas; I am about to introduce my baby girl to my Mamaw and Grandparents and they will see with their own eyes their beautiful legacy and I will be able to tell them how grateful I am for the family they brought into this world... Cupcakes, Sprinkles, and Other Happy Things; my friends, good things abound every where.
Life is good. Well, not really. Really, life is not good. It is so hard right now. And I have cried every tear under the sun. But, thank you God that you make all things new. I run, yet I do not grow weary. Well, at least not weary enough to simply kill over and die.
I walk through the waters and rivers, but I do not drown. I get that water up my nose and it burns like I laughed to0 hard and sucked diet coke up my schnauzer; but I don't drown.
I go through the fire, but then, in the flames I look and see that there is someone else in the flames with me. And neither of us are burned or consumed.
For you, my gracious savior are with me. You are the Holy one. You know me. You call me by name. You have given things and sacrificed greatly so that, I, your child, may bring you and you alone glory in the midst of my suffering. So that you may be praised... you make streams in the desert and you make a way in the wasteland. Even if the stream is a pretty fall pumpkin or a little baby that inches herself around the house in her sleep like a dying cockroach. You bring beauty from my ashes and introduce joy into my suffering. You put a smile on my face when despair is fighting to win my attention. You put perspective in my heart when I am feeling overwhelmed. My own paraphrase of Isaiah 43.
And you faithfully, oh so faithfully, send people into my life that speak your words of hope over me at just the right moment (that moment is usually about two minutes before I sit all the guys down to tell them I am quitting to be a real mom, English teacher, and perhaps cheer leading coach who has her nights and weekends free. It is usually one moment before I say to God, "Thanks but no thanks. You got the wrong girl. And I got the wrong God. This sucks. I'm out." And it is usually a few moments after another blow...or before another blow... or during another blow... it is constant) He finds me and reminds me of His Holiness at just the right moment. He reminds me that He is neither dead nor fictional; He is the very breath that keeps me going and gives me reason to exist.
Your love is all consuming when the world seeks to consume me.
So tonight, I am grateful for simple, little, silk threads of hope and light that dangle in front of my eyes and whisper in my ears as I climb a mountain and trudge a valley that I have never been in before...
Oh but HE HAS. He has met me here. And he will meet you where you are too. In fact, I promise he has gone before you, made a way, and waits to welcome you upon arrival.
Maybe with a lei. That's what he would do in Hawaii.