Being Content With Who I Am

Learning #contentment because God loves me  via @blestbutstrest“Mrs. Ojeda! You have a bloody nose!” the sweet little second grade boy exclaimed as he walked into the cafeteria for supper.

“It’s just a cold sore,” I muttered, and smiled at his concern for me. By the time the students found their seats, no fewer than ten students had informed me that my nose was bleeding or that I needed to blow my nose. Sigh.

While I loved the fact that my kids have my back (or, my nose, you could say), and I now knew that they would surely let me know if I happened to walk out of the bathroom with my pants unzipped or a banner of toilet paper trailed from my shoe, I wasn’t very happy about the whole cold sore business.

Every time I get a fever or a runny nose, out pops a cold sore. Sometimes, they appear on my lips, sometimes, they will erupt inside my nose, and sometimes—like this time, they form a perfect little line of blisters that runs from nostril to lip. Great.

What made this episode worse than others? Frist of all, I had an important trip in the works, and I knew I’d probably have my photo taken a few times. Second, the cold sore came on more suddenly than usual—I noticed a tale-tell bump on my lip as I drove home from a park. I knew I didn’t have a lot of my topical cold sore medicine at home, so I rushed to the only grocery store in town to buy a new tube of Abreva.

My small town Safeway didn’t seem to have any in stock in the usual place (the lip balm and cold medicine aisle), so I asked the pharmacist.

“It’s in the vending machine near the front of the store,” she informed me.

“You have a vending machine that sells cold sore medicine?” I exclaimed. “Where? I don’t remember seeing one.”

“It’s located by the liquor section check-out aisle,” she said, “where we sell condoms and things like that.”

I started to giggle. I couldn’t help it. The irony. On second thought, the marketing teams’ product placement psychology makes me a little sad. What does it say about the human race that condoms and liquor seem like logical neighbors in a grocery store?

This NOT what I expected when I went to buy #Abreva  via @blestbutstrestWith some embarrassment (speaking of ironies, the word for ‘pregnant’ in Spanish is ‘embarasada’), I wandered around the store until I found the liquor section, and then located THE VENDING MACHINE. I wasn’t counting on the bold letters emblazoned across the bottom of the machine declaring “FAMILY PLANNING”. Good grief. I had a cold sore! I’m sure my cheeks matched the red lettering on the giant, not very discreet machine.

My eyes skittered across the selections as if I someone had shoved a smutty novel into my hands and asked me to read a passage. Finally, at the bottom left corner of the page, um, machine, I saw what I needed—a small package of Abreva.

Did I mention that I live in a small town? Where everybody knows your name and where you work? Nestled in the corner next to jelly and below the condoms and pregnancy tests, I found what I desperately needed. The stress of the encounter had caused four more blisters to erupt. My window of quick-eradication-of-cold-sores had slammed shut (if I start taking L-Lysine pills and slap on some Abreva at the first sign of a sore, they usually stay small and not too painful).

Ack! Every single item in the vending machine lacked a visible price. I had to stand there and read the instructions on the machine to find the price. I looked around, than surreptitiously punched in the item number. $19.95! The price had gone up five dollars since the last time I had purchased it. Better to just go home and hope that my tube hadn’t expired.

And so I did. And it probably had, because by the next morning, I had a huge, painful cold sore—and to make it worse, my trip to Michigan to attend my Chinese daughter’s college graduation started that very day. Ok, so Wendy’s not really our daughter by adoption, but she’s family now because she lived with us her senior year and high school and visits at least once a year during her school breaks.

Meeting her real parents for the first time made me a little nervous—after all, I don’t speak any Chinese and they don’t speak English. I also stressed about my ugly cold sore. (I’m sure they wondered why I couldn’t seem to keep the snot off my face—for this is the second stage of cold sores—a clear bubble that resembles something you should keep wiped off).

Her gracious parents wanted to take hundreds of photos of Wendy and me. I swallowed my pride and let my happiness shine through (although secretly I could just imagine all of their friends in China looking at the photos and saying, “Who is this jolly American with snot coming out of her nose?”).

I had a lovely weekend, and I made it home about the time my cold sore entered stage three—the hamburger/bloody nose stage. I spent the entire week explaining to people (kids and adults alike), that I have a cold sore—not a bloody nose.

When you wait too long to apply #Abreva  via @blestbutstrest

I can see why everyone thought I had a bloody nose!

While I tired of the questions about my ‘bloody nose’, the cold sore incident also reminded me that pride has no place in relationships. (tweet this)

I know everyone has my best interest at heart. I know, deep down, that Wendy’s parents don’t care if I have a cold sore (they would treat me the same—with humble gratitude and gracious gifts—whether I had one leg or three) because they feel gratitude to our family because we love their daughter.

Pride has no place in our relationship with God, either. He loves us for who we he created us to be—not because of anything we do. He loves us whether we’re skinny, out of shape, muscle-bound or squishy. He loves us whether our sins appear as blaring blemishes or we hide them from the world. We can’t earn his love because he has already given it to us. End of story. Beginning of story. (tweet this) His love works better than Abreva on the cold sores of our lives.

I’m linking up with my friends Holley, Jennifer, Holly and Sue–hop on over to their sites and find all kinds of lovely encouragement!

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Anita, Love your post and your honesty. I need daily reminders to be real and not try to look ‘better’ than I am (‘put on airs’ as the I Peter 5:6 verse so aptly puts). Thanks! sandraj
    sandraj recently posted…God’s Hand and Greater PlansMy Profile

    • Thank you for stopping by, Sandra :). God always seems to remind us when we need it most!

  • What a story!! I cannot imagine having to buy Abreva from a vending machine that sells condoms. I don’t even get how they make that connection. And I am an RN. Unless, because of the price, they worry about shop-lifting. Way to handle this with class
    Paula recently posted…My 10 Favorite Books of 2014My Profile

    • I’m guessing that the shoplifting angle is the reason for having it in the vending machine…but, it’s just embarrassing! Have a wonderful new year!

  • Great story and one in which I could picture each stage of your self-consciousness as well as attempt to remain cold sore free. You teach us well through your story of the absolute love that God has for each of us exactly as we are-whether with blemishes or without. Thank you for the reminder of God’s endless love. Happy New Year blessings to you and your family!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Delight or DespairMy Profile

    • ;). I’m so glad that God can use all kinds of experiences to speak to me! Happy New Year to you and your family. Thank you for blessing my life with your friendship!

  • Oh Anita… What a great story to illustrate all those crazy insecurities we all face every day. And of course, you were photographed a gazillion times on that day. Isn’t that always the way??? I appreciate your post so much, and love when you join us at #TellHisStory.
    Jennifer Lee recently posted…The One Resolution that Can Change Your Year … and Your LifeMy Profile

    • :). My Chinese daughter gave me one of those ‘new’ Polaroid snapshots her parents took of us (in this digital age, it’s hard to imagine that Polaroid cameras are still around and all the rage nowadays), and I’m happy to report that the ‘snot’ didn’t show up ;).

  • Anita … I am so grateful that God allowed our paths to begin to cross this year. Your heart-words touched me somewhere deep when I needed it most.

    Long story.

    Anyway, I look forward to getting to know you better in the year ahead. May you know His sweetest comfort and blessings, friend.

    Linda@Creekside recently posted…4 Essentials That Matter To You . . . and MeMy Profile

    • Thank you of the hug and for the words of affirmation, Linda. May God continue to walk with you and guide you in the way you should go. One of these days, maybe we’ll all end up at the same blogging conference and have a chance to meet in real life :).

  • I enjoyed reading this- and wondered what college it was in MI since I live here.:) I looked around your blog and shared it with my friends who write and speak about caregiving. I thought you might like seeing their resources as well. and
    Katie Reid (@ImprintsKatie) recently posted…You Read To Me & I’ll Read To YouMy Profile

    • Hi, Katie! She graduated from Michigan State University :). Thank you for passing on my blog info to your caregiver friends. I’ll check out the resources you’ve shared! Thank you!

  • You’re hilarious! Really? A vending machine?!
    We have Chinese kids this year, too. I’m sure they see my warts everyday…May God help them see Himself in the midst of it all. Loved the passage from I Peter (translation?) – daily I get reminders not to put on airs. thanks for the reminder of God’s love and grace. happy new year!
    Sue Donaldson recently posted…A New LookMy Profile

    • Yep. I couldn’t believe it! I forgot to put the translation on my graphic–thanks for pointing that out! It’s the Message translation (one of my favorites). We had a Chinese girl who’d never heard about God or Jesus and an atheist French girl the same year. We had some great discussions. Enjoy your exchange students and have a wonderful new year!

  • Oh, Anita! I just giggled picturing you in front of that vending machine with the people passing by wondering what you were after in that bevy of selections. My husband gets horrible cold sores so I know all too well the urgent dash for Abreva. My son just got his first one and mingled with 11 year old hormones and drama it was like our lives had come to a screeching halt trying to get him through the week of dealing with the eye-sore that every single kid had to ask him about – every single day! You took a hardship and turned it into a beautiful lesson – God loves us through and through and the minor “blemishes” won’t ever change that. Thanks for the smile, friend! And get yourself a prescription for oral Acyclovir – it works wonders! 🙂

    • I still giggle when I think about it ;). I do need to get the Acyclovir–I had gone so long without a bad cold sore that I hadn’t refilled it (not to mention a move and a new doctor). I’m glad you survived your son’s initiation into the cold-sore-blues.

  • You are gorgeous even with a “bloody nose!” This is a beautiful and vulnerable story, and such an important lesson: to love ourselves no matter the imperfections and know others love us, too. And if they don’t, God does anyway. 😉
    Laura recently posted…Let me introduce myself with a story…My Profile

  • I am sorry to laugh. It’s with you, not at you. 🙂 I love that you put aside your insecurities and enjoyed the weekend!
    Sarah Donegan recently posted…My Hope for Your YearMy Profile

    • I’m glad I could produce a laugh! I had a lovely time and I’m happy to report that when we spent Christmas day with Wendy’s family, the cold sore had progressed to a red scar that had ceased to look like blood or hamburger ;).

  • Probably the lesson I need to hear over and over, “We can’t earn his love because he has already given it to us.” And yet … we all have times of falling into the trap of trying to earn His love.

    Your cold sore story sounds exactly like something that would happen to me!
    Jerralea recently posted…Focus Determines ContentmentMy Profile

  • Anita, this made me smile and also know about those cold sores. BUT…a vending machine for condoms and such along with the one med you needed!! I would have gone home too. I also live in a fairly small town and surely someone would have seen me there!!
    Thanks for the reminder that God made us and loves us as we are. He made me! Is that not the best?!