Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I am too busy to breath most days at work—and I mean literally with the way my asthma has been—and I come home to collapse on the couch, playing with Kashi from a prone position.

[Yes...I got a job]

The weekend rolls around and I determine that I will follow-up on some things and find myself staring at the clock Sunday evening with little to show save a few backyard games of catch.

I've not been writing much and even less here on my web page.

But part of that is the legal mess I'm in with a sub-contractor who is unlicensed and chose to threaten me at my home rather than obtain payment from the GC. The police arrested him for trespassing and he turned around a filed a civil lawsuit based on a contract that never existed—I didn't even know his name until two weeks after he installed the a/c.

But, alas, right means little and truth less when it comes to the courts. So, I'm spending money I don't have after three and 1/2 months of unemployment on a lawyer who's so cavalier about the whole process that I fear the "certain outcome with an unlicensed contractor who has no right to pursue payment for non-permitted work" is not so certain. And the second criminal trial—now by jury on appeal—is being tried in two weeks by a second ADA who's not even subpoenaed the police officer who can support my claim nor read the transcript of the first trial. "Don't worry," she tells me.

Believe me, I'm worrying...even as I sleep at night!

I find myself struggling with what passes through my head and the beating of my heart. God has blessed me greatly in the past two months. A job...a Chiristian boss...a new writing student who is an answer to prayer for some peer interaction for my other writing student...a job as a marketing assistant where I get to write and think and share opinions and shape directions...and organize to my heart's content...a new friend who plays games with me again and again...a job with a salary to pay for the recent car repair bills and—yes—one more plumbing bill...blooming roses...a job where I'm wanted and respected and valued...a job that has already given more than I thought possible given my recent work history.

Yet, last Thursday, I passed through one of the darkest moments of my life and cannot, for the life of me, truly fathom why I decended to the depths I found myself lingering in...for days.

I woke up coughing and gasping for breath and ended up in the emergency room. Two breathing treatments and an IV later, I stumbled home to catch my breath and get ready for work. In the cold and rather cubicle at the hospital, I started thinking how little I have paid attention to the losses asthma has brought me as opposed to having MS.

I have accustomed to breathing shallowly to avoid coughing, to avoid attacks. I find myself short of breath while talking. One moment sound is coming out and the next nothing. Lifting anything remotely heavy, including grocery bags leaves me panting and wheezing. And I rarely sing anymore.

That is the greatest loss to me. I enjoy music. I revel in singing. But, these days, if I sing for two long, I end up light-headed or worse. And when I sing, I sound horrible because I cannot sing more than a few measures of anything before I have to stop to breath.

So, I'm sitting in the cold cubicle feeling quite sorry for myself since drug after drug does not seem to make a marked difference other than the Prednisone-weight-gain that leaves me feeling quite uncomfortable and unattractive. I drive to work still wallowing.

Yet I arrive at work to words of concern from co-workers who read on the company calendar the reason for my delay. Concern. Wow. I'm frankly not used to anyone showing genuine concern about my asthma...a few friends when I mention an attack, but not questions about living with it and being careful because I'm wanted around and concern about needing more rest than the hour I indulged in at home before heading off to work.

So, I thought, Yes, God, I hear You...You are walking before and behind and have provided a beautiful place to work...

The owner of the company sent me home early after chastising me to take better care of myself. "Work can wait...your health cannot."

So, I drove home in praise after driving to work in self-pity.

And then I read my mail...

My attorney had send the Bill of Particulars (the plaintiff's argument for why he is suing me) and the Ground of Defense (my defense against each point he made) in the civil case. But it wasn't a draft of the Grounds of Defense. It was a copy of the actual Grounds of Defense he filed without consulting me! Two of the answered he "admitted" to on my behalf should have been denials. The first was that the sub contractor sent me an invoice—he did not—and the second was that since the installation I had never contacted him with a problem...but I had. When he left, he had not hooked up the electrical. When I called him, he said it was the GC's responsibility to finish the electrical since it was his job. The former point makes it seem as if he tried to deal with me in a professional manner rather than merely threatening me, and the latter negates the words from his own mouth that the job wasn't his responsibility and therefore not his to bill directly.

I felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach. I felt as if my own lawyer legitimized the sub-contractor's civil case against me and undermined the criminal charge against him. He made it more about a transaction and less about the right to safety in my own home and his lack of rights being a sub-contractor and unlicensed to boot. I felt overwhelmed and ended up crying for hours...crying in between multiple nebulizer treatments that I wasn't supposed to be taking in my own home.

I felt the whole weekend that no matter how much I've sought to be thankful for all Christ has done for me and to be prosaic about blow after blow that I failed miserably by losing sight of God's kingdom to wallow in my own mire.

I'm just tired. I'm tired physically from MS and the asthma attacks. I'm tired of not feeling well and knowing there's little I can do about that.

But I'm also tired emotionally from my fears of the sub-contractor and what he might do the next time he comes to my house. Tired from the first criminal trial, from the thought of the jury trial and what his reptilian lawyer might do now that he knows my testimony (he was rather brutal the first time around). Tired from the civil suit and fears that even though I've already paid for the a/c (money given to the GC), I'll somehow have to pay again. Tired from the knowledge that it truly doesn't matter that I did nothing wrong and have told the truth, yet I'm paying the price of his deceit.

But mostly, I'm tired, that my head worries and frets on all these things that truly do not matter in light of His kingdom, while my heart truly desires to remain focused on all Christ did for me on the cross and the myriad ways God has visibly walked before me of late, showering lovingkindness and forgiveness and peace, even if I only managed to hold onto that peace for a short while.

One of my best friends and I have started memorizing scripture together. I have been blessed by the experience and desire that I would think of it more often than I do...

Below is a list of our verses each week so far:

Psalm 1
Isaiah 12
Hebrews 12:1-6
Job 42:1-6
Revelation 5:11-14
I Corinthians 13:1-8a
Habbakuk 3:17-19
I Corinthians 13: 8b-13
Exodus 20:1-11
Exodus 20:12-17
Psalm 139:1-12
Psalm 139:13-24
Colossians 3:12-17
Deuteronomy 30:15-12
Matthew 5:1-12

So, tell me...with such rich words committed to memory—savored by my heart and soul—and running around my head, why am I tearful, fearful, and worried?

Oh, what a fickle, stiff-necked Israelite I can be...