Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Power of Suggestion

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am ready to come clean. I’ve got to get this off my chest. Are you ready?

I really like Hannah Montana.

I watch it every day.

There, I said it. Whew! I feel better.

But wait. Before you shake your head at me, I must be allowed to give justification for how I arrived at this place in my life. This is not where I expected to be at age 31. I wonder right along with you how a grown woman finds a cheesy kids’ show like Hannah Montana even remotely inviting.

Well, when I was in elementary school, my family watched a movie called Warning Sign. It’s about a biological weapons lab gone wrong. A careless employee accidentally releases dangerous bacteria into the air. They seal the lab so no one can get out. Everyone breathes in the bacteria, grows giant zits, turns violent, and tries to kill everyone else. In the end, most of the people die. One lady survives because she’s pregnant and therefore carries the antibody. She saves the day.

I was completely enthralled by this movie. It sucked me right in. I was there, in the lab, fighting evil with the pregnant lady. I was totally and sensationally freaked out. For too many sleepless nights, I lay trembling in my bed and envisioned a world controlled by millions of ax-gripping, pustule-laden freaks. Eventually I decided I shouldn’t watch that movie anymore. (Ya think?) But because my brothers kept watching it, being stronger-minded and thicker-stomached than myself, there was no way to get the horrible imagery and strangely tantalizing concept out of my head.

One Saturday morning during a family card game, after a particularly upsetting night, I finally burst into tears and told my parents how scared I was. I will never forget the shocked and confused look on my mom’s face. I’m sure she was wondering why I didn’t just think about something else.

My dad left the room without a word. I think he knew words wouldn’t help. He also understood something I didn’t. The spiritual element. He must have sensed I was engaged in a battle much too big for me to handle. His wise and protective heart could see the oppressive forces gripping my mind. A few minutes later he called me into our living room. Still without speaking, he pushed play on the VCR. A Christian high school musical flashed onto the screen. Hi Tops. The second song on the show is called “The Fight Song”, and my cobwebby brain thinks it goes something like this:

We’re all soldiers of Jesus, we mustn’t forget
Though the battle is won, still it’s our battle yet
But with the armor of God and our feet brightly shod
We will tell of the victory He’s won

With our helmet and shield and our sword by our side
And our breastplate of righteousness gleaming with pride
With the armor of God and our feet brightly shod
We will shout out His truth: “We’ve won!”

I’m gonna lay down my life and fight
I’m gonna lift up my sword and shield
I’m gonna stand up and sing
Praise my God and my King
Until all of my enemies yield

The familiar lyrics immediately filled me with peace and courage. I had been despairing – just what the enemy wanted – but that day my dad introduced me to the weapon of praise. “I’m gonna stand up and sing, praise my God and my King, until all of my enemies yield.”

That night I crawled into bed with renewed hope. As soon as the darkness came, I countered it by singing Jesus Loves Me. I sounded pretty shaky at first, and it a lot of concentration, because those scary thoughts were so deeply embedded. But my voice was soon strong and clear because God, as promised in ancient times, regarding my ancient battle, came swiftly to my aid, and proved to me that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32a). For the first time in several weeks, I slept peacefully.

After that, I did a little better about leaving fiction in its proper category. But when it came to real life, the battle had just begun.

One of my family’s favorite summertime activities was to go four-wheeling. I use the term “summertime” loosely. I grew up in Hailey, Idaho (elevation: one mile above sea level). Nestled in a mile-wide valley and nearly surrounded by foothills shooting steeply and abruptly out of the earth, Hailey sometimes gets snow as late as June and as early as September. Summer? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

One 4th of July weekend, we camped high up in the mountains at Boulder Basin, one of our favorite family haunts. We piled into my dad’s old 1964 Jeep Commando pickup and held on for dear life as we bounced our way along the boulder-strewn, high-centered ancient mining road. We traversed crumbly shales, thick cottonwood communities, and narrow precipices. Looming rock faces pushed against us on one side, and sheer drop-offs threatened to reach out and pull us down on the other.

About two-thirds of the way into our trek, our truck shuddered to a stop. Apparently, the bouncy ride had been too much for our tired vehicle. It resigned. The right motor mount broke, so every time Dad revved the engine, it rotated up slightly in the engine compartment, which threw the throttle linkage out of sink and left us without enough power to continue. I don’t really know what any of that means, but my husband nodded in understanding when I just relayed the information to him.

It became apparent that we would not get to our planned campground before dark, so Mom began scouting out alternate campsites for our family of eight with four two-man tents. Right about that time, it started to snow.

We set up camp by flashlight. Our icy fingers fumbled with knots and stuff sacks as we quickly sought out the relative warmth of our sleeping bags. We shivered our way through the night with Dad’s promise that we were NOT going to “die out here” ringing in our ears.

The next day all eight of us huddled together for warmth in one of the tiny tents while snow and sleet pelted the walls of our flimsy shelter and the wind howled its threat to blow us back down the mountain. Happy 4th of July. Who knew it would snow? This was long before you could go online and check the weather forecast of any spot on the planet with one click of your mouse. We played cards to pass the time, and we sang songs. LOTS of songs. Camp songs. Praise songs.

“Oh, you can’t get to heaven…in a putt-putt car…oh, you can’t get to heaven…in a putt-putt car…oh, you can’t get to heaven in a putt-putt car, ‘cause a putt-putt car won’t go that far…”

Neither will a Jeep Commando with a broken motor mount.

I was suddenly struck by an alarming thought: we had no way to get back home! We were stuck! We were millions of miles - about 15 or so - from civilization. We were cold. We were hungry. It was snowing. In July. We were not camped in the spot where our friends had arranged to meet us. And we were going to die. They probably wouldn’t even find our bodies. I was tragically comforted by the thought that we would all die together and none of us would have to go through a long and horrible life filled with endless grief counseling sessions and frostbite amputation.

I did not eat for the entire weekend. I drank no water. I made myself physically ill and quickly became dehydrated. And I trembled. And trembled. And trembled. But I didn’t know I was scared sick. I thought I had the flu – which just topped it all off.

Turns out Dad was right. We did not die out there. We didn’t even suffer, really. Our friends showed up like the angels who released Peter from his cell in the middle of the night before his execution. After standing around scratching their heads with bemused expressions for a few minutes, they cheerfully delved into their surprise task of jimmy-rigging the motor mount. They anchored the engine using some spare logs to protect the truck body and two come-alongs my dad happened to have with him. We limped back down the mountain, safe and sound.

My body had trembled the entire weekend. Except during the family praise song time. Once again, praise was my shield.

Fast forward to college. My friend emailed me one morning and said there had been a shooting that day in a school near her home in Colorado. Within hours the whole world knew about the two boys at Columbine.

On choir tour that summer, our director shared about martyrs in each of the churches we sang at. One of my classmates wrote and sang a song about standing up for your faith no matter what. I was horrified about the shootings, of course, but in the midst of graduation prep and embarking on a new stage of life (moving back home after failing to achieve my MRS degree), I wasn’t too emotionally involved in the crisis.

One evening a few years ago, after I DID find that husband and had popped out my two boys, I visited the glorious world of Wikipedia and soaked up every detail I could find about Columbine. I read through the killers’ minute-by-minute journey of destruction and stared long and hard at the pictures from the security tapes. And I was there. I was the girl who was shot for her faith. I was the coach who bled to death. I was the killers.

Staring at that eerie computer screen, I began to tremble once again. I shut the computer off and went to bed. I felt a twinge of guilt, knowing I would endure a sleepless night and consequently be no use the next day to my husband, Jeff, or our two toddlers, James and Jonathan. I lay awake, hoping I wouldn’t disturb Jeff as I shook the entire bed. He snored away. I tried to pray. I tried to read. I cast around for any other topic to fill my mind.

Finally, in desperation, I called my mom in Idaho at 1 am her time. Poor Mom. She prayed with me over the phone, and it helped. And then she reminded me gently of what I really think I should have thought of already: “Don’t forget to sing praises, Bec. That always helps.” Oh, right. I thanked her for waking up for me (she always has and always will), and hung up the phone. I stared at the ceiling, willing a hymn to rise to the surface of my mind. Praise really seemed out of place for the fresh despair I felt over Columbine, more than six years after the event. But God’s faithfulness IS great, and it once again carried me into a miraculous, tremble-free, peaceful slumber.

Then there was the time during my first year of marriage when my pregnant brain had a vivid nightmare about a miscarriage. I woke with a start and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I woke Jeff up too and asked him to pray with me. Being not quite as available as my mom in situations like that, my adorable man mumbled to the Lord through his sleepy stupor, “Dear Lord, please help Becky to remember that it was JUST A DREAM…” My fear simply could not compete with such cuteness, and I giggled myself back to sleep that time, feeling my firstborn kick.

When that baby was five weeks old, the little munchkin and I snuggled together on our couch early one September morning, me dozing, him nursing. The phone rang. I couldn’t think who would be calling me before 7 am. It was Jeff, listening to his car radio on the way to work. “Turn on the news,” he said grimly.

“What channel?” I asked.

He paused, then said gently, “Any channel.”

Dread gripped me as I reached for the remote. The pentagon had just been hit. Blood rushed to my cheeks and horror filled my being, just as it did yours. The world stopped.

After three days of complete paralysis as I watched the towers come down over and over and over again, Jeff finally pried the remote back out of my hand and turned off the TV.

The all-consuming distraction of a colicky newborn pushed my grief deep into the far reaches of my soul, and life relentlessly propelled itself dishearteningly forward.

The post-9/11 world depressed me. I really wanted everything to be funny and cheerful again. I didn’t like the dark comedy that found humor in the guy burying his father. I was angered by the romantic caper that added the morbid twist of the main character dying of cancer in the last scene. I was horrified by the hit TV show which chronicled in minute detail every kind of violent death Las Vegas could imagine.

I did get hooked on CSI eventually, though. Well, I was obsessed with Survivor, and one night we watched Survivor with my brother and his wife, and they always watched CSI right after Survivor, so we watched that with them too, and my sister-in-law made it very interesting for me by explaining back story on the characters and talking about where she hoped they would take certain story threads next. Well, so then I had to keep watching, naturally, to find out whether or not Grissom and Sarah ever got together or Greg ever became a CSI.

A little over a year ago, I ate spinach from a bag salad one Friday night. Jeff and I don’t watch the news (for obvious reasons), so I had no idea Dole spinach had been recalled because of an E. coli scare. I was pretty gurgly throughout the night, and by 10 am the next day I had a high fever, sever stomach cramps and the runs like nobody’s business. Every muscle in my body ached and I couldn’t think straight at all.

Jeff was out of town at a men’s retreat, so I was alone with the boys. I don’t remember how this was logical in my brain, but for some reason, it seemed like a really good idea to eat out. Somehow the boys helped me into the car, and in my foggy mental stupor, my dizzy, clammy, trembly hands steered us to McDonald’s. We ordered both lunch and dinner in the drive-through and headed straight back home, where I dozed for the rest of the day, tried not to move, and counted the minutes until bedtime.

Jeff arrived on the scene the following afternoon to find the house a disaster, the boys bouncing off the walls, and two eyes peeking over the top of a blob of blankets in the corner of the couch. I was totally dehydrated. He pumped me full of liquids and restored order.

The next day, as I struggled to regain some strength, I stumbled upon the 5th anniversary of September 11th. All the cable channels had some kind of commemorative special on, and I watched a reenactment of the day’s events through the eyes of a handful of heroes, some of whom survived and some of whom laid down their lives that day. After about five hours of reliving the worst day in my memory, the shakes were back again. Of course. The grief which had receded into the back of my heart burst up to the surface, and I cried. Oh, how I cried. For the thousands who died. For their families. For the ugliness of it all.

This time it took me a full week to recover. I went to bed several nights in a row trembling uncontrollably. My tremors continuously jarred me awake at about five minute intervals, and the first night I only slept two hours. The second night I slept three. The third night I slept four.

But I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at all if not for the Michael W. Smith worship DVD Jeff’s parents had given me the previous Christmas. It was the only thing that helped. Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever praise You. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. Nothing else could calm my soul or quiet my body.

My fourth night into this ordeal, I called my mom and asked her to pray with me that I would be able to sleep. She informed me of the E. coli scare and commanded me to go to the doctor to be tested. Okay, fine. But I was so embarrassed. The nurse immediately chuckled and said, “I thought someone like you would show up. I bet the doctor we’d have a rash of E. coli tests this week.” Oh, brother. And of course I tested negative because I didn’t have E. coli poisoning at all. I simply had the obsess-yourself-sick poison rampaging through my otherwise healthy veins. But we think the week-long trembling was dehydration-induced. I did have food poisoning of some kind from that spinach. It just wasn’t of the national news variety. Also, waiting five years to cry about 9/11 can really throw you for a loop.

A couple months later, almost exactly a year ago, God uncovered a painful memory from my past. Turns out I was raped as a 12 year old. Which is another story. But I mention it here because it caused me to have a severe mental shift. Which of course is a gross understatement. My world came crashing down. Which also seems like a pathetically weak and insipid description of the ensuing months of darkness.

But for our purposes, the point is that the post 9/11 world made sense to me for the first time. Suddenly all those dark comedies didn’t seem quite so dark, and instead they filled me with unexpected hope. Little Miss Sunshine really clicked with me. (But don’t watch it. It’s not that great.) Stranger Than Fiction left me breathless as tears of laughter rolled down my cheeks. So funny!

And CSI! Our friend bought all the seasons on DVD and loaned them to us, so we watched nothing but CSI. Episode after episode. The entire series, beginning with the pilot and going straight through.

I spent a few months on severe emotional overload brought on by dealing with the trauma of recovered memories. I longed for death to swallow me up. I daydreamed about driving my car into the river, and one night I even went online to find out exactly what would happen to me if I overdosed on all the drugs in our medicine cabinet. My findings left me feeling even more desperate because I learned that nothing we had could actually kill me, except acetaminophen, which would take several agonizing days to finish me off via liver failure. Well, who wants that suffering? If I was looking for a way out, that didn’t seem like the most pleasant route.

One thing carried me through that pit. Yep, you guessed it. A praise song. This one by Matt Redman.

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow

Blessed be Your name when I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed be Your name when the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be

Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering

Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say:

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

On very many desperate days, repeating those phrases was my salvation. Why? Because God’s light in my heart was stronger than all the darkness around me. I am hidden in Christ, who is my strength. Reminding myself of His very real faithfulness and wrapping it in praise was the most powerful weapon imaginable.

God used that time in my life to beef up my arsenal. My mentor showed me how to redirect my thoughts and reminded me of Paul’s immortal words in Philippians 4:8. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, think on these things.” Well, suicidal thoughts surely don’t fall into that category. So they had to go.

On the night my mentor spoke this truth to me, my aunt died of breast cum lung cancer. She died, in fact, about two hours after God helped me choose to turn away from wishing for death.

The next few days were a blur with family coming into town and funeral preparations, but one day as I ran errands, I had a few moments to reflect on my aunt’s life. She is one of my spiritual heroes because she loved everyone. She was gracious to all those around her. She suffered quite a lot in her life and kept going. She didn’t pout and wish for death. At least not that I know of. As these thoughts consumed me, a song by SuperChick came on the radio that sort of seemed to sum it up:

There’s a cross on the side of the road
Where a mother lost her son
How could she know that the morning he left would be their last time
She’d trade with him for a little more time
So she could say she loved him one last time
And hold him close
But with life, we never know when we’re coming up to the end of the road
So what do we do then, with tragedy around the bend?

We live. We love. We forgive. And never give up.
‘Cause the days we are given are gifts from above
So today we remember to live and to love.

Fresh tears flooded my eyes. That was my aunt. Passion. Peace. She lived. She loved. She forgave. She never gave up.

At her funeral, her daughter talked a little about her mom’s last moments. She said usually when someone dies from an illness, the space between their breaths gets longer until all that’s left is space. Then she said, “But not Mom. Mom was a fighter, and she fought for every single breath until the very end.”

She breathed steadily until she stopped breathing. Even though she was so excited to go to heaven and see Jesus, she stayed here as long as He wanted her to and never, ever gave up. Not one breath.

With renewed inspiration, I fought against the dark thoughts in my own mind. But it was a few weeks before the final piece of armor against suicide was in place. A song of prayer by Casting Crowns brought it home to me:

If you ask me to leap out of my boat onto crashing waves,
If you ask me to go and preach to a lost world that Jesus saves,
I’ll go.
But I cannot go alone.
Because I know I’m nothing on my own.
But the power of Christ in me makes me strong.

When I’m weak, You make me strong.
When I’m blind, You shine Your light on me.
I’ll never get by living on my own abilities.
How refreshing to know You don’t need me.
How amazing to find that You want me.
So I’ll stand on Your truth and I’ll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory
By the power of Christ in me.

To reach out with Your hands,
See the world through Your eyes,
To love with the love of the Savior.
To feel with Your heart,
And to think with Your mind,
I’ll give my last breath for Your glory!

I knew the song well and had heard all those lyrics many times, but never before had I had such a vivid example of what it meant to give your last breath for His glory. My aunt did that. And I want to do that too. I don’t want to leave this world self-focused and pitiful. I want to give my last breath for God’s glory, not mine.

So we press on.

Two anxiety attacks ago, Jeff laid down the law. We had watched a fake mass disaster movie called Déjà Vu, and as soon as I felt my insides begin to roil, we changed the channel to Seinfeld as fast as we possibly could. It didn’t help. Seventy-two hours later, I finally slept through the night.

After that, Jeff became my input police. No action movies. No sad movies where people die. No violence on TV. He habitually grabs the remote and changes the channel whenever even a preview of any real-life disaster reenactment tries to encroach into my controlled environment. The Halloween previews this week have really kept him on his toes.

My most recent attack came in July. As I said, I’ve now watched the entire CSI series from start to…well, not finish. None of the shows have had any adverse effect on me at all. But for whatever reason, suddenly, in the middle of season six, something freaked me out. A husband buried his wife alive in an unused underground septic tank. And I had five sleepless nights.

I realize I’m a little slow on the uptake here, but I’m glad to say this past time, I ran straight for my Bible and faced the battle head-on. It was almost routine. Here we go again. I pulled out that Michael W. Smith DVD, opened my Bible to where my friend Job first declares “blessed be the name of the Lord,” turned my eyes upon Jesus as the violinist was encouraging me to do, and eventually “rocked” myself to sleep with my cheek pressed against Job’s words.

On the third night, I began to whine to the Lord. “I’ve surrendered to You; I should be feeling better by now. Isn’t that the deal?” No answer. Until the next morning. My buddy Oswald Chambers clarified for me what was going on.

Across the years he explained, “Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.” (From My Utmost For His Highest, July 16)

Well, I was growing. And this was a small detail of life. So I waited it out, trusting that in time, this too, would pass. And it did. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

But as I said, Jeff is doing his level best to keep it from happening again. He monitors my emotional involvement in the media very closely. Just a couple of weeks ago, he rented Transformers, which I was sure would be fine because it could never happen in real life. But partway through, I noticed Jeff watching me instead of the movie, and not long after that, his voice called out to me from the far-off reality of the living room and said gently, “Becky… it’s just pretend.” I looked blankly at him, struggling to pull my mind back. He nodded his head and encouraged me, “Breathe.”

We chuckled about it together, and then he shook his head and observed sagely, “Man! The power of suggestion is very strong with you.” I know full well that you will not believe this, but I must say from the bottom of my heart in complete sincerity that I had not realized that about myself. Stop scoffing! I’m serious!

But boys howdy, I’ve sure got it now! I am acutely aware that part of me actually works for Michael Scott and hopes beyond hope that Dwight and Angela get back together.

I am keenly tuned in to the reality that we can’t really go to the movies anymore because everything I see has to be screened first.

And I am completely resigned to the fact that my emotional threshold will permit me to watch nothing more upsetting than The Disney Channel.

But it’s for a good cause. I’m following the advice of the Apostle Paul. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…

Well, okay. I’m sure Hannah Montana isn’t exactly top-notch as far as things to focus on. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction. They don’t cuss, and they don’t chew, and they don’t go with boys that do. But my friend Brittany did point out that sometimes their skirts are a little on the short side.

At first, I only watched the previews for upcoming episodes, and very discreetly, I might add. I didn’t want to admit to anyone, let alone myself, that I was actually intrigued by a children’s television program about a teen pop star masquerading as a normal person. But what an interesting idea! Don’t you think so? No? Oh well. I think so enough for the both of us. And so do 4.4 million other viewers.

Jeff is quite amused. He tells me he isn’t remotely interested in the show, but I always find him getting stuck in the room while I’m watching. He claims vociferously that he is not watching the show; he is watching me watch the show. Apparently, my emotional involvement shows all over my face, which is highly entertaining.

Did you know that Miley on the show is really called Miley in real life? And that she is really Billy Ray’s daughter? That’s so cool! And she really has a great voice! And did you know that her best friend on the show is really the younger sister of Haley Joel Osment (“I see dead people…”)? And did you know that Jason Earles, who plays Miley’s older brother, was also in National Treasure? He played Thomas Gates (the buggy driver that the last living Declaration signer gave the “secret lies with Charlotte” slip of paper to before he keeled over). And did you know that Jason Earles is really 30? Playing a 17 year old? And pulling it off?

I find all of this to be quite fascinating. So much so that recently, upon realizing I was going to miss a new episode of Hannah Montana, I grabbed the dish remote, rewound to the beginning of the episode, and punched record.

At that point I realized it was time to admit that I like watching Hannah Montana. You see, according to Wikipedia, “each episode deals with life, personal conflicts, or problems that are easily solved with lessons learned by the end of the show.” In other words, even though I get sucked right in (which is a part of myself I can’t do anything about, and which I’m sure must have its good points), I come away refreshed, knowing all has been set right. Miley’s secret identity has not been revealed, I’m in on the secret, and everybody loves each other enough to have all their conflicts worked out in under half an hour. And there’s great music! Plus, Miley and Lilly and Jackson and Rico are all just incredibly funny. Great comedic timing. Really gifted. Especially Emily Osment.

Okay, see? I told you I really like the show.

But here’s the best part. Remember how Jeff doesn’t watch Hannah Montana? He just watches me watch it? Well, get this. That night, after the boys went to bed, I nestled into my chair to enjoy my new episode of Hannah Montana. And guess who wandered out of his office? Yep. Of course it was just because he wanted to spend time with me. And I’ve gotten used to being stared at while I watch television. I just ignore it. Well, it’s easy for me to ignore it, of course, because I’m actually IN the show, not in my chair in the living room.

Anyway, partway through, our six year old, James, came out of his bedroom to use the bathroom, so we paused Hannah Montana. While it was paused, Jeff went to rustle around in the kitchen. James went back to bed, and I waited a couple of seconds for Jeff. He was taking longer than I thought, so I hollered to him, “You want me to wait for you?”

Very long silence.

Was he pretending he didn’t hear me? I imagined him in there, debating with himself, “If I say no, then I’ll miss something on the show [that I don’t watch]. If I say yes, then I’m admitting that I’m actually watching it. What to do, what to do.”

Finally a low, sheepish reply issued forth:

“…yeah…”

HA! I knew it!!! He’s been sucked into the world of Hannah Montana too!! The power of suggestion goes both ways! I reveled in my victorious discovery until Jeff returned.

Then my husband/best friend/lifelong companion and I enjoyed the rest of Hannah Montana together. Whether he admits it or not. And he does not. When confronted with his accidental revelation, his cover was swift and sure: “Or maybe it’s that if I’m being FORCED to watch a show, I don’t want to miss the PLOT POINTS, as simplistic as they might be.”

Whatever Jeff’s true reasons, he knows one thing for sure. Hannah Montana does not give me anxiety attacks. And it does make me giggle, which is sweet music to his ears, in view of this past dark year. So in the Frame house, Hannah stays. And Becky sleeps at night.

P.S. Jeff says I should tell you that Jason Earles from Hannah Montana graduated from Glencoe High School here in Hillsboro in 1995. That’s only a mile from our house!

P.P.S. Jeff says, “I didn’t say that you SHOULD tell them that! I said I’m surprised that you DIDN’T tell them that!”