Saturday, July 31, 2010

Many years ago before I started this amazing walk with my Jesus I remember sitting in a church service on a particular Sunday morning. They explained that each month they would feature a different hymn and someone would share the song's history and what it meant to them personally. The hymn of the month at the time was "Amazing Grace."
A woman stood at the podium explaining the story of how the song came to be written. Nothing of what she said made an impression. However, she did make one comment that got my attention.
She said with enthusiasm, "Grace is amazing, isn't it?!" Those words hit me. I remember thinking, "What the h*** is grace anyway?!
Oh, it is so easy to think everyone knows what we are talking about, isn't it?!
Since that time I have learned the meaning, praise God! Unmerited favor!! I walk in the favor of God because He loves me!! Nothing I have or have not done affects this grace! I was far from Him and He, in His grace and mercy, drew me to Himself! I was a stranger and now I am part of the family!! We read about this in the second chapter of Ephesians.
I am indeed "carried by grace" whether to Asia or just to get me out of bed in the morning. Such a comfort.
His Word is a comfort. Truth is found there. It is the spark that ignites my heart!
Well, it ignites my heart if I choose to let it. It depends upon where my focus is at the moment.
It depends upon what I really want.
Do I want my life to be nice and tidy? Do I want everything and everyone fixed more than I want Him? Going deeper in my relationship with the Living God definitely won't be neat; messy is more like it! His ways are not my ways, but I do know that they are better!
This morning the reading in "Reflections for Ragamuffins" stated that "He will finally give me exactly what I choose." Sobering words.
My God does not force His ways on any of us. We choose.
Oh, LORD God, I choose You and Your ways in spite of myself!!
When I reflect back over these last three and a half months I can see His Handprints over all of it.
Today Matt and I saw evidence of His touch. Ray can more his left thumb!! Oh, it is ever so slight and you have to look very closely, BUT IT DID MOVE!!
Amazing, don't you think??!!
Here's something else that is amazing:
Revelation twenty-one, verses one through seven from The Message:
"I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea.
I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making His home with men and women! They're His people, He's their God.
He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good-tears gone, crying gone, pain gone-all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new. Write it all down-each word dependable and accurate."
Then He said, "It's happened. I'm A to Z. I'm the beginning, I'm the Conclusion. From Water-to-Life Well I give freely to the thirsty. Conquerors inherit all this. I'll be God to them, they'll be sons and daughters to me."
Isn't that amazing?!!! Such Good News!!
My hope is in the God who made such glorious promises.
As we anticipate Ray's homecoming, possibly as early as August 13th, and all the concerns we have regarding it, we will keep our eyes and heart fixed on the One Who is Faithful. First Thessalonians chapter five, verse twenty-four is one of my life verses. It reminds me that whatever He calls me to do, He will actually be the one doing it!
A moment ago I used the word "we", because Ray, myself and our sons are all looking to Him. As we look, we will walk; one step at a time and He will lead, shining light on the path we are to take.
Blessed be the Name of the LORD!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm sitting here trying to sort out my thoughts. If all that is going on in my head were broadcast, I think it would sound like many voices speaking at once!
Through my day I often have thoughts that it seems should be recorded here. Sometimes I jot them down so I don't lose them. I have a pad in the car, as well as a few throughout the house for this purpose. Then there is my regular journal that I write what I hear Papa say to me every day.
If you read a page here and there you would see that every single day, one way or another, He reassures me that He loves me. I can never get enough of that good news!!
Of course, He loves to tell me, yet, over the past few months I believe He knows just how vital it is to keep me very much aware of His love.
I know His nature and know that He is loving. I also know that anything He allows in my life is for a good reason and that He will work it out for good. However, it is difficult to be in this new, strange place. It is not very comfortable at all!
The discomfort causes some of the voices in this head of mine. They are asking questions.
As we go through life, we might know that things are unpredictable and can change in a moment, but we live our lives as if everything will carry on as usual.
I am now very aware of how quickly things change and the discomfort comes from knowing that the future will not be what I had become accustomed to experiencing.
For the past few years I have had the joy of being free to minister in a number of different ways. My schedule was full and I loved it!
Much of what was on that schedule is no longer an option for me. At least, not for now.
I wonder what will the future hold? Will I be a fulltime care giver? The role that I find myself in with Ray right now is a very odd one. Will I get my husband back?
My Precious Savior reminded me today that He came to set me free, which means that I am free indeed! He also reminded me that He has given me life, life in abundance!
What does that mean in this moment? How can I experience and express that freedom and abundant life?
I need my Papa to show me, to walk me through it. This is an unfamiliar path, but He promises that He is on it with me and all that is mine in Him is available to me.
I read a story once of how a little child had gotten his hand stuck in a vase. The vase had to be broken to free the hand. Why? Because the child had reached in to snatch something in that vase and held it fast in his fist throughout the struggle. The simple solution would have been to open his hand.
To be free in this moment I need to open my hand. Once I do that I am certain that what Papa wants to give me will be better than what I have tried to cling.
Anyone else need to open up their fist?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Life has a way of insisting that we either live by our words or eat them! Over the past couple of days I have been reminded of my words of advice to others a number of times.
"Our expectations will trip us up if they are in anything or anyone but Him and then they need to be measured by what we know is true about Him." "True trust finds rest in Him no matter the circumstances."
We headed to New York to see my niece and, hopefully, be an encouragement to her and the rest of the family. I anticipating spending some time in the hospital room in prayer. I expected that spirits would be lifted.
I do hope that our presence was an encouragement, yet it was hard to tell. Matthew and I were talking and I told him that, as we sat in the hospital room, I was having a difficult time even knowing how to pray silently. He believes it was because of the heavy spirit of despair there.
Everyone was to be very quiet and not disturb Sara, per her mother. I so longed to bring a little life into the place!
Afterward we were to celebrate my son, Jonathan's birthday with him. Well, we celebrated with his girlfriend, but he was absent. Sara's husband was struggling and Jon felt he couldn't leave him alone. Understandable. Yet, again I longed to open the windows of hearts and let some light and life flow in!
Not my job. I know it is Papa's place and I am confident that He is working whether I see it or not, but I am struggling with disappointment just the same.
Sometimes I think I am very naive. "Oh", I think, "they will see their need, they will see there is hope and a better way and be set free." Not so simple; so many walls have to come down first.
Yet, it is possible! He reached me, so He can reach anyone. He is not willing for any to perish, so I know He is calling to each heart. Oh, that they would hear and come to Him!!
He is our heart's desire. After I encountered Jesus and began a personal, intimate relationship with Him, it occurred to me one day that He was what I was seeking all along. I just didn't know it.
Seeking Him is a life long adventure. Seeking to know Him more fully. Seeking His help and guidance for all of this crazy life's challenges.
He will not disappoint.
I desire Him to have His way in all areas of life. I entrust once more my husband and my niece into His capable, gentle, loving hands. I will trust Him to lead me as to how to pray for them and their needs.
Tomorrow at 3:15 PM many will be stopping to pray for my niece. I invite all who are reading this to join us.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

During our sons' childhood we spent much time exploring the book of Proverbs. Many verses were committed to memory, including Proverbs chapter three, verses five and six. For many these are very familiar verses.
They were Papa's gift to me today.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Okay, Papa, what are you saying to me?
I know that You, Precious Papa, are trustworthy and, as best as I can, I am giving my heart over in this trust. As time goes by, I am realizing more and more that I am fragile and so goes my thinking process often. I choose to bring it all to You. You are woven through it all. So one step at a time you are illuminating my paths.
This family is on some rocky paths and without You, Dear LORD God, we would stumble badly.
The path that takes us to that rehab to see Ray, yet a different Ray than we ever knew. Who will he be when this in over? Only You know. What I know is that the path You lead us on is the one that is the best for us and will produce good things.
So as we head to New York to see my precious girl, Sara, our eyes are on You alone. You supply the strength, the words, the wisdom and the grace. You are the source of it all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Every day is filled with gifts from Papa. Many of them are snatched up, opened with haste, wrappings discarded without a glance, and then put to use without a thought of whose Hand offered them.
For all the heartache that a day may hold there are many more blessings. They are ours whether we even stop to notice or not.
He is the greatest gift. One that can never be taken away once we have received Him. It is up to us to explore this wonderful gift and to get to know Him more deeply each day.
We can all list so many gifts that come from Him; life, breath, the beauty of a day, family and friends and the love that is woven through these relationships. All great treasures.
A wonderful treasure is the privilege of hearing from Him. He loves to speak to our hearts. He spoke to me this morning.
I was reading first Corinthians thirteen, which is known as the love chapter, and had decided to do so using a contemporary language version, The Message. The words that spoke so tenderly to my heart are verses twelve and thirteen.
"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. but it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."
He is the source of all three.
Over and over I am amazed that this Great God, the Holy One, the Creator would be so generous to me, a fragile, broken sinner. This is the One that words of a song I heard today spoke of: Kings will surrender their crowns! We will all bow down to Jesus, the Light of the world, the Love of God!
Imagine the most powerful people, the rulers of this world will place their crowns before Him one day! And all will worship Him because He is worthy!!
This is the One who is so intimately acquainted with us. This is the One who holds us in His Hands and loves to bless. This is the One who will never let go!
This is the One who reminded me today that I don't see the whole picture and that a better day is coming! A day is coming when I will see Him face to face! It is the day that He will wipe away ever tear from my face; a day that promises no more tears or sorrow!
May my life be a gift back to Him!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Words are one of my things. As the years have passed by I have become more and more aware of the weight they carry. I often wince at how casually we toss them around.
That children's rhyme that says "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me" should never be taught to another child! Words are powerful and thus can hurt or heal.
With words we can build people up or tear them down and it is through words, along with actions, that relationships are built or destroyed.
If we are thoughtful, we will reflect on the words we speak before they are spoken. Yet, even once we have spoken in sincerity, how fully do we understand what it might mean to follow through on those words?
I've been thinking about the words of my marriage vows. What did they mean to me when I spoke them and what do they mean to me all these years later? Standing at the altar and speaking those vows no one really has any idea what challenges will come that will call upon an ever deepening commitment to those very vows.
Back then I honestly would have uttered any words for security; for the sense of belonging. Along the way keeping those vows was challenging, at times, and I can honestly say that we made it through truly by the Grace of God.
Before Ray's accident we had finally reached a good place, together. It had become a pleasure to uphold those words, for both of us.
These thoughts are a result of my conversation with the social worker at Glendale today. Actually, it was something she said that triggered this line of thought. We were discussing Ray's progress and my concern regarding his returning home. (by the way, they are requesting an extended discharge date of August 12th from the insurance company. Pray!)
She told me that I had to realize that this place we find ourselves in is not going to be a brief one, but that I can expect it to last for years. She also said that I need to adjust myself to the fact that he will need caregiving for quite a long time and that some of his problems will most likely be permanent.
What might be permanent? Well, the immobility of his left arm for one. He also has sensitivity on the left side of his chest and finds it very irritating to be touched. I found that out when I was sitting with him and, in a show of affection, lightly brushed his chest with my hand. In a tight voice, he asked me not to do that again.
So those words spoken over thirty years ago are taking on deeper meaning along with a need to find creative ways to uphold them.
To love and to cherish. I do. Now more than ever I need to do so with words and companionship.
Part of me wants to selfishly say, "Hey, how about the "to have and to hold" part??
In sickness and in health. Who ever imagines what this can mean? Yes, I say with trepidation. Not that I don't want to care for him, but I feel so inadequate.
And that voice whispers, "What about all you love to do? What about all you have been involved with?"
All I can do is take it one day at a time. Papa reminded me this morning that He has called His children to love at all costs. He does. He did.
He is going before us and He is contantly reminding me of this fact. I know it is true.
Anything that He allows in our lives is for a greater good than we could have experienced without the experience. I know this is true.
He promises that He will never leave me, nor forsake me and that He will give me the strength I need for the tasks I face. I know this is true.
I also know that He is carrying me right now. My heart grieves for my niece and all that she is going through and it grieves for my strong husband who faces such a long recovery laced with loss. Yet, I am confident that He has allowed these circumstances for a greater good. May nothing hinder all He desires to bring out of these hard places. Not even me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Seize the moment!" That is the thought that came to me as I awoke this morning.
Seize the moment, LORD? "Yes, every situation is an opportunity to seize it for Me. Seize it to know me better, to lean on Me harder, to walk with Me closer and to represent me before others," He seemed to say.
Usually I fall asleep praying and that was the case last night. My last conscious thought was focused on a very dear, long-time friend, who had called me last night. He has been out of work for a year and a half.
As I chewed on "seizing the moment," I felt Papa saying that this was for my friend too. So, dearest Ron, receive it!
We have such a privilege! We have access, intimate access to the Living God!!
I am involved in a few groups and if you ask anyone who is involved in them they would tell you that I have one drum I love to beat. It is that to live and victoriously we must know God and continue to get to know Him more fully and deeply.
Who is He?? He is the Creator; He is Majestic and Mighty; He is Holy and Righteous; He is Beautiful and Loving; He is All-Wise and All-Knowing, AND He is In Control!!
He is worthy of all praise, honor and glory!! One day every knee will bow without hesitation and every tongue will confess that He alone is Lord!!
There is no way to wrap our brains around who He is. On a good day I get a glimpse of Him and am undone and that is just the train of His robe that fills the temple!!
After we get a picture of who our God is we need to then learn what this Almight One has to say about us and what He promises us!
He is especially fond of us, as Brennan Manning's uncle told him. He delights over us with singing according to Zephaniah!! He sees us a clean and whole through the Blood of His Son!! He loves to hang out with us and loves when we take time to just be with Him.
As we get to know Him we can't help but love Him. Today's reading in Manning's "Reflections
for Ragamuffins" reminded me that out of love comes trust, not the other way around. One of the blessings of this love-relationship is that we can rest in Him, we can trust Him because we know His character. We are safe in Him. Proverbs eighteen, verse ten tells us, "The Name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe." Let's rest there.
Scripture speaks of serving our precious LORD. There are times in our lives when the form of serving we have been involved with has been set aside for a while.
That is where I am right now. Much of which I was involved has been put on hold. Sigh.
This past week I had to call the drug/alcohol rehab where I volunteer and tell them I needed to take a hiatus. My heart is there with the residents.
My niece is don't doing well, neither is her mother, my sister. My heart is there with them.
Our roles in a ministry to the poor and disadvantaged that Ray and I were involved in were set aside from the start of this adventure. My heart misses all of it.
Papa had a word for me this morning. Prayer is service in His Kingdom. Actually it is serving on the front lines!
I knew that, but I had gotten use to the faces; I love the faces and the hearts they represent!
I told Papa that I wanted to renew my commitment to my place on the front lines. After all it is where He would have me be right now and I know in my heart there is no better or more effective place to be!
One battle that we have to wage is with the rehab center and insurance company that want to send Ray home in less than two weeks.
I am not a fast thinker, neither is our son, Matthew. We need to ruminate for a few days before responding to issues, etc. Well, we have finished chewing our cud and have concluded that we are not ready for Ray to come home because He is not ready. We spoke with my honey and he agrees.
We have a call in to the social worker at Glendale and will discuss this with her. Ray is not like most of their patients who are recovering from surgery. He is recovery from multiple injuries with the brain injuries being the most serious.
Should he come home, his therapy will be reduced to a few times a week versus twice a day. Not acceptable!! He is still falling. What would I do? I cannot lift him alone. He cannot do stairs, etc.
So it is time to hit the mats, as they say!! Everyone to the front lines!! It's time to pray!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and delivered Himself up for me." Galatians 2:20
This morning I was looking through the journal where each day I write the scripture out that Papa speaks to me. What a blessing His Word is to me. This is, in part, how I "live by faith."
His Word is a love letter to me (us). Every single day He has words of encouragement and comfort to give me. It is my choice whether I receive them or not. If I do not look into the Bible; if I do not take time to sit at His feet, I cheat myself out of so much of what He has for me.
Here are a few of the Words He has had for me:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17 - I am His new creation, even when I feel worn out and old!!
"Therefore , holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus the Apostle and High Priest of our confession." Hebrews 3:1 - I am holy!! Whoa!! I have a heavenly calling!!! Consider; think on, look closely at Jesus!!
"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You." Isaish 26:3 - If I keep my eyes and heart fixed on Him; remembering who He is, which is All-Powerful, All-Wise, All-Loving, and In Control!! Then I have true peace.
My God can and does speak to my heart through all of life. I hear Him in others' words and actions; in nature and music. He delights in blessing His children; He loves to love us.
Before sitting down to write this post I puttered around our yard for a bit. I haven't had time to do this before now. Can you imagine what I found growing around our open well? Yes, more Queen Anne's Lace!! I also discovered that it has popped up at the entrance to our driveway!!
How these discoveries made my heart and face smile!
There is a whole lot to smile about even in the midst of all the struggle and heartache that has surrounded us of late. The simple fact that we are in the tender Hands of the Living God does it all by itself. Then there are a multitude of little things that I am determined not to overlook; the beauty of a day and the ability to enjoy it is one example. Something else that most of us never stop to be thankful for is something that my dear husband is smiling over - No more catheterizations!!!
I am heading outside to putter some more and am sure to find more to smile about too!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God has done....
This is a report of good things happening!
Papa, as always, takes car of His kids!!
Ray and I went on a road trip today!
All the way to Hartford.
I drove him there myself, as we had practiced car transfers with the PT and did fine.
Since the appointment was at 8:45 AM I figured I had better leave extra time for rush hour traffic. We started our journey at 7:15 AM.
We managed to do the car transfer all by ourselves! Then I attempted to put the collapsible wheelchair in my truck. It doesn't collapse that much! (Note to self - rent a "real" collapsible one next time!!) With help from an aide who happened along we managed to push/pull the thing into my backseat.
I calculated enough time to pick up breakfast from a Dunkin Donuts drive thru. (Smile)
The staff at Glendale had offered to give my honey an early breakfast, but we opted for DD, of course!
The traffic was light, no snarls or slow-downs at all!
We pulled into the Hartford Hospital garage, found a handicap parking space in no time at all!
I thought it was going to take some time to coax the chair out of that backseat, but it came out with ease!
After another smooth car transfer and a brief ride in the elevator we stopped at the information desk to find out just how far the doctor's office was from there. Oh, just take this other elevator and get off on the sixth floor. On we went and when the door opened up and we were facing the place we needed to be!
Of course, there were forms to fill out. The questions that we were asked to answer were very entertaining. Here's an example: "Has your injury affected your social life?" "No, not at all, we are carrying on as usual!!
Before we could even get through all the forms (we might have taken a few minutes longer than needed, as we were having a bit of fun with them!), we were called into the examination room. And amazingly, the doctor walked in right afterward!
After studying the records and a brief exam Ray was sent across the hall for x-rays. These were quickly developed and we were ushered back to the exam room where the doctor explained that he doubts that Ray ever had a fracture of his C7, so lets "can this collar!" Ray told him that he liked him a lot! The doctor did assure us that the collar had been necessary due to the contusion at that spot; yet even though it isn't totally cleared up, it is safe to go without it now.
On the way out I asked if there was a co-pay and was told that we were all set!
Back to and into the car, including the chair that was extremely cooperative!
Upon our return to Glendale I got out my scissors and trimmed the bush that had been growing under my love's cervical collar. I followed this up with the electric razor.
And there sat my man!!! He's back!!!!!!!
Yesterday we had a meeting with the team that cares for Ray. They anticipate Ray coming home in about two weeks!! His dizziness has subsided quite a bit, which means that they have been able to be more aggressive with his therapy.
One hinderance to his homecoming will be whether his left leg improves enough for him to be able to do stairs at all. His left hip-flexer is still weak, so prayer is needed for it to regain its strength soon!
Once he comes home, Ray will have some at-home therapy, along with home health care. Afterward the out-patient PT will commence. He is slated to do this at Gaylord. There are places closer to home, but they are the best around, so I am glad he can go there.
Count any blessings yet?
Here's another one: Ray's union rep has been stopping by and will help run interference with the insurance for us!!!
Now here is one from Papa that was just for me. I had meant to mention it a few weeks ago, but I guess it was kept for this post.
I love wild flowers and find Queen Anne's Lace absolutely delightful. A number of times over the years I have attempted to transplant a plant or two to no avail.
Guess what is growing outside my front door? Yes! Those lovely lacey flowers!!
I know it is a love note from Papa to me; a reminder of how special I am to Him and that He takes note of every detail of who I am and what I enjoy. Every day I am reminded afresh of His tender love. He is so gracious!! He, Himself, tops the list of blessings!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A plaque that hangs on one of our walls reads, "Life is fragile, handle with prayer."
Everywhere I turn I am reminded of just how fragile it is.
My husband seems fragile to me; frail really, which is a word that I usually reserve for the elderly. His body was strong not too long ago. It was strong as it was flung off his motorcycle and into the side of the car that suddenly was in his path. Now it is so frail that he fell yesterday. He was attempting to stand without calling for help. It didn't work.
Today found me in New York spending some time with my very fragile niece. My heart aches for her.
Everything about her seems so fragile. Her arms would look fine if they belonged to a child; her face seems so tiny to me; even her hair is a reminder of the battle she's been waging with a terrible enemy. Her tears are weak, broken by a small catch or sob that seems to barely escape through her lips.
She spent this past fifteen months or so fighting valiantly and thinking she had won. The enemy was silent and clandestine in its work only reappearing after it had secured new footholds in multiple places in this precious woman's body.
Sara is weary, weak, confused and in mourning. She doesn't know where she will find the strength to face this new battle. She doesn't understand why or how this happened. She did everything she was suppose to do.
She mourns her future, a future that is so tenuous and frail; she doesn't envision having the children she had hoped to welcome into her world; and what about her career as a teacher that she has loved?
So many questions, so much pain, so much sorrow, so much confusion.
If we do not come to the place where we recognize our own frailty and powerlessness, we are deceived and will lose more than a battle.
When we get to the place where we admit how frail we are and life is; how weak we are; how needy we are, well, that is the place where we can find what we need.
Strength in weakness, healing in the midst of pain and grief. All of this and more is found in God alone. Does this mean that physical healing always comes? That relationships are always made whole? No, but to be sure the relationship that does develop is one that makes all the pain and sorrow worth it! The spiritual healing that is available to us holds eternal value.
I am powerless to heal my loved ones and powerless to strengthen them. But as I admit this fact, His strength comes pouring into and through me to them.
I was reading E R McManus' book "Wide Awake" as I made my way home via the ferryboat. A question formed in my heart. How alive am I willing to be? To be really alive is to open myself up to all life has and that includes pain and sorrow.
Is it worth it? Yes, but I believe it only works with Christ. In Him I find hope and a promised future. He promises to personally wipe away all my tears when I see Him face-to-face!
Life isn't easy, but it is worthwhile, especially when we live it with the Creator of all life.
These are some of the things my niece and I talked about today.
Writer Anne Lamont commented in her book, "Bird by Bird", that "We are given a shot at dancing with or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing (or dancing) can change the hearts and spirits of the people (including ourselves) who are together on that ship." (my words in parentheses)
This takes living in the now. Taking life as it comes and not allowing ourselves to be cheated out of life in the present because of what will be or might be around the next corner.
I choose to dance and maybe add a song or two along the way. Care to join me?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In the past forty-eight hours I have noticed myself using two words frequently. What are they? "Too much." Yes, too much. Everything has seemed too much.
What do I do when life gets to be "too much?"
I talk to Papa.
That sounds so pious, doesn't it?
Well, I do talk to Him and give Him all of it. At least I think I give it all to Him!
Then what do I do? I see if I can push myself over the edge; I start projects, of course.
Today I started painting Ray's and my bedroom. This is something I was intending to do this summer and I do want to have it done before he comes home....
But did I have to start it today?? On a day when I am sad and weary? On a day when it is humid?
To top it off I need to mention that I hate to paint! Too many details to take care of before you even pick up a brush.
Papa lets me get myself into a corner and then we have a good laugh. Okay, He laughed! I was looking to revive my sense of humor wasn't I?
After painting for hours it became very obvious that the "one coat" paint is going to take a second coat. Knowing what my schedule looks like for this coming week and that the room can not remain in its current state for too long, it occurred to me that I had better get some help.
It took years for me to ever come to the place where I would ask for help. I would just become a crazed woman; very pleasant to be around!
The help is available this week! Thank You Papa!
Such craziness and right after I had made a note to myself to relax and embrace the moment more than I have been doing of late, which is probably what happened to my sense of humor!
Yesterday I attended a memorial service that was a celebration of that ray of sunshine I had mentioned a number of days ago. It was a joy to sit there and learn more about her. At one point a song was played that spoke of this being the time and the dance. At the word dance it had my attention! The song told of someone who chose to dance and live life to the fullest. They chose to embrace the mystery and be all they could be.
My usual mindset is to seize the moment and dance; dance for and with my God. This past week I not only stopped laughing, but stopped dancing too. How sad.
Well, before you can correct a problem you have to recognize it. With Papa's help I will be dancing before I know it and I wouldn't be surprised if a giggle starts to rise up too until it is a full-blown laugh!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Things get misplaced from time to time; some of which are not greatly missed, but some leave a big, glaring gap, as they are essential. I have realized that one of the latter is missing in my life and I am on a hunt. If you see it, let me know as soon as possible?! Oh, you need to know what it is?
My sense of humor. I left it somewhere and I need it back!
By nature I am of the more serious type and have been known to be a little bit more introspective than is healthy for a person to be. Papa, in His grace, has been teaching me over the years to lighten up and as I have matured with age I have become a more willing student.
Lately, it appears that I have been playing hooky.
Life has been and is really heavy these days. To be honest it feels like bad news likes to arrrive on my doorstep regularly. Never have I experienced so much heartache so constantly. It is like I am in a sea of it and just as I come up for air - a wave of more comes bearing down on me.
Yesterday was no exception. My dear husband was in pain when Matt and I came to visit. The left arm was experiencing waves of serious pain. Out of a ten Ray said it was a seven.
The nurses and I think it is probably "phantom pain." I am calling his doctor today to discuss this.
Ray is still experiencing dizziness and a drop in his blood pressure when standing.
He has a doctor's appointment this coming Thursday morning with the orthopedic spine surgeon. I am going to hire a chair van, as I am not confident enough that I can transport him myself. Hopefully, that will be the day that his neck brace comes off!!
My day ended with devastating news. Our precious niece, who was recovering from breast cancer after a year of one challenge after another had a cat scan yesterday. They discovered cancerous tumors in her brain, lungs and liver. Sara will turn thirty-three next week.
When I received this news I could not contain myself. I am not overly dramatic and usually am quiet in my grief, etc., but I wailed.
So is it even legitimate to want that sense of humor back? Yes! Otherwise, I will drown.
Along with humor I must cling to Truth.
What is the purpose of this life? Of any life?
To know God and to develop an intimate relationship with Him. This is the preparation ground for eternity.
To know Him makes all the difference in living this life of adventure.
This morning I read something by David Jeremiah. He said that "It is not the absence of suffering, but the response to suffering that makes Christians unique. We are not exempt from trials in life, but we can be exempt from failure in those trials."
In the gospel of John we read "Apart from Him, I can do nothing!" BUT with Him I can not only make it through, but in victory!
A verse that has spoken to me many times over the years is found in Job twenty-three, verse ten.
"But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
He is with me on this journey and allows all of the trials to help me become all He intends.
May my life shine for Jesus!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Relationships are the stuff of life. What is life without them?
Just like everything else, relationships change. They have their ups.... and they have their downs. After all it is a wild ride, isn't it?
I prefer the ups, don't you? Then I feel more "in control." An illusion, I know. The downs reinforce the fact that I am definitely not "in control!"
These relationships are affected by all that happens around them. Without Papa, at times, one feels tossed about like an anchorless ship! With Papa, it still isn't easy to face some of the changes that come. Just like a child who trusts her daddy, but still is scared, I hide behind Him and dare to just give a peek at what is facing me.

I wonder what Ray's and my relationship will look like once he is home and a bit more self-sufficient? As I've said before, our current relationship often reminds me of how his dad and I interacted while we cared for him.
I do feel strongly the role of caretaker. It is an odd fit. Over the years I have been known to say that I am not a nurse on purpose, so this in not a natural role for me, but it is one I willingly accept.
Yesterday the staff doctor came in to see Ray. I felt like he was working for the insurance company. He asked my husband how many stairs there were to negotiate into our home. Then he asked if Ray felt he could climb them. Ray assured him that he could. "Good," was the doctor's reply.
Hello-o-o!! Mr. Doctor have you read the therapists' notes?? I tried to make a few comments, but the man was not interested in hearing from me. Must have been one of my invisible days!
This conversation got me thinking about how soon Ray may be coming home and what it will be like to have him here. It will no longer be visiting for a couple of hours and letting everyone else do the majority of caregiving. It made me feel very tired.
Okay. One day at a time!
Other relationships have been altered through this adventure. My sons have taken on different roles. They have stepped up to the plate and taken more responsibility; willingly helping me shoulder the added load, where possible.
The two that are living with me are on the front lines. They both work full-time and have other concerns, as well. I try not to lean too hard on either one. They are dealing with all that has been happening, also. However, conflict is inevitable, I guess.
One son and I have hit a little pothole in this road we're on. It came to a head this morning. My answer? I cried for a good part of the rest of this morning.
Good solution, yuh? Actually, yes. I was overdue.
Papa had a few Words for me.

"Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness.
Oh soul, wait for the LORD, He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His Holy Name."
That's from Psalm thirty three.

He is watching over me, over us. He is my hope, my help and my shield!
My heart does rejoice right in the midst of all these crazy changes, because I know that His Name tells me Who He is. He is everything I need!
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!" That's what I read in Philippians four, verse thirteen. He gave me this today too.
So when I get tired, weary, I can be sure that there is still strength available to me, because I am His!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ray was a bit confused today. He thought Gerald Ford was still president! We met December of 1976, so I wonder if he was thinking that I looked a lot older than he remembered!!
The other day I saw his weight in his chart. He has lost at least twenty-five or thirty pounds. When I told him how much he weighed he commented that he had gained weight. Well, yes, if it indeed is during Ford's administration!
They had to cut OT short today as Ray became very dizzy while standing. He hasn't had that problem in a few weeks!
During my visit with him a young woman came in and told me that she was going to pick him up. I thought, "This I want to see!" After she made a few more comments I deduced that she was the speech therapist and she was going to add him to his client list. Words certainly can mislead when taken out of context!
Tim came home after visiting with his dad and told me that he had a few very uncomfortable moments with Ray. For whatever reason they were discussing Ray's mom's age. Tim asked his dad if there was a big age difference between his dad and mom, as when grandpa died he was eighty-seven. Ray asked, "My father's dead? That can't be!" Tim reminded him that grandpa had died a couple of years ago after having lived with us and then Uncle Jeff and Aunt Audrey. What was Ray's response? "Oh, no wonder he hasn't called me!"
My poor honey! He was wondering why he hadn't heard from his dad! I wish he had said something.
Tim shared that Ray thought his left arm was his father's; the one he left behind.
He was experiencing a bit of pain in his arm today. He tells me that it doesn't hurt in the physical arm, but the pain is in the arm that is in a different position. I wonder if this is what is called "phantom pain?"
I asked him if I could get him anything. He replied, "A new arm."
In the past few days I have seen Ray trying to do something with his right hand that normally takes two hands. I wanted to offer to help, but realized that he needs to figure it out for himself. Whether it is opening a small container of milk or manuvering his wheelchair, I am holding back unless he asks for help.
Sometimes Ray gets a faraway look in his eyes and then a fearful look passes his face. I am claiming second Timothy one, verse seven for him (and me!).
"God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
We have been freed from fear and it has been replaced with power, love and a sound mind! Our Papa never takes something, no matter what it is and leaves a void, but He replaces it with Himself, as He is the source of all that is good!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The internet was out last night, so when I awoke after half an hour's sleep and felt compelled to get my thoughts down I had to settle for my journal for the moment. There were many of them to document. Here's what I wrote.
The specialist, who did the EMG on Ray's arm, called me Saturday afternoon. She said I was on her mind, so she had to call. Thank You, Papa!
She and her team hold no hope for recovery of that left arm. Out of all the areas that were tested only one showed any nerve life and that was at one five-hundredth of what it should have been. The doctor said if anything, that one response might grow slightly, but it will not make any significant difference.
I am not sharing this with my husband just yet. He needs to be as positive as possible and continue to put his best effort forth doing his part in his recovery. There will be time. Anyway, Papa is still on His Throne, so who knows?!
This news weighed heavy on me throughout the day, along with all the sad situations that surround me. Yes, I know I just said He is still on the Throne, but I AM ALSO STILL HUMAN!
My precious niece is struggling on her journey through breast cancer and its aftermath, along with difficulties in her marriage.
A ray of sunshine; a sweet woman is going to see her Savior face to face and her good husband is having to let her go.
Another dear friend is facing surgery with the hope and prayer that there will be no continuing problems.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Meanwhile, please lift these dear ones up to the Throne of Grace! He knows their names.
As I laid in bed reflecting on the pain that life can bring, I realized that I have never before been so intimately acquainted with so much grief all at once.
Life can be very sobering.
What was I feeling? It isn't always easy to identify what emotions are churning away within us. I was feeling as if I were pressed against a wall; pinned there.
The accuser was there with his harsh, chilling light glaring down on me. He sought to interrogate me.
"So your God allows all this pain and heartache, does He? He allows loss; loss of life, loss of limb, loss of security and peace? This is your Papa? Can you still trust Him? Do you still put your faith in Him?"
Oh yes! To whom else would I go? He alone holds the words of eternal life! He alone gives real peace, even when the world's form of peace is gone! Joy in the midst of loss and pain is available through and from Him!
He has a purpose in allowing all of this, each and every bit!
Papa took me to two passages of scripture.
Romans five, verses one through five. The result of perseverance? Proven character, which leads to hope. Ah, yes that word again, so much more than simply a word! An anchor in a storm - the storms of life! It is a hope that does not disappoint!!
Because He has poured out His love within our hearts!
When you have experienced His love, you can be sure it is safe to trust Him, no matter what comes!
Do I like it? Of course not! Who does?
We all hope to go off into the sunset hand in hand. That is natural. Deep down we expect a perfect life because that is what we were designed to experience.
And we would...But for the fall. The fall, where man and nature in rebellion caused their relationship with God to be broken.
He has made the way to experience relationship with Him, because (to quote a lovely lady) He wants us back! Yet, the world is still broken and we are here "working out our salvation."
The "sure hope" is, in part, that this is not all there is! Praise His Holy Name!!
Now for the second passage, which has taken on new meaning for me.
Second Corinthians four, verses seven through eleven.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A precious friend of mine has said that everyone needs to go through life with a mother and a secretary by their side. I have always heartily agreed, especially since I am not the greatest detail person! And life is full of details!
Never before has the need for such help been so greatly felt! Besides all the household details that we all deal with and all the related decisions, all that comes with the situation we find ourselves in is a fulltime endeavor on its own!
When Ray was at Gaylord there was a case coordinator extraordinaire, Natalie. She handled or brought to my attention any details that I missed or simply wasn't aware.
We are all very aware already that we, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, aren't in Kansas anymore! So I am not expecting such close involvement on the part of anyone from Glendale.
Ray has a number of doctor appointments scheduled over the next two months and I will need to figure out transportation. I also need to speak with a few of his regular doctors, who I would like to have take over his case now that he is closer to them.
The specialist that has the results of Ray's EMG has still not called, so I need to pursue this next week. The OT at Glendale was going to begin treatment of Ray's arm, but I do not want anything to be done until we learn what the problem is. There was discussion of electric-stem treatment, but I think it unwise to pursue this until we are sure it is the right way to go. I am concerned that the result of hasty treatment could be unnecessary damage or pain. Ray's arm experiences enough dicomfort without adding to it!
Then there is the insurance company, who wants him home in two weeks! Let's not forget the bills they rejected; such as the one from Waterbury Hospital. The four hour stay amounted to-Are you ready?-over thirty-one thousand dollars!!
Phone calls. I am not a phone person. Give me a face! Oh, and we know that it will be a challenge to actually speak with a human being, don't we?!
Depending upon how these calls go I might need to contact the State liason that handles problems with insurance companies. There is also a contact at Ray's union. So there is help out there. It's just doing the footwork.
My honey needs to do his light therapy every day and then there is the eye exercise that his former OT recommended he also do. I am looking for help with these, as I do not want to spend all my time with him in the role of therapist!
On a positive note I want to send thank you's to the long and growing list of those who helped make the ziti supper a huge success!
I see how this coming week is shaping up! Where's that secretary??
As far as the mother, well there is a dear woman who I call my adopted mom. I think I will have to find time for a cup of tea with Betty!
When Dorothy landed in the strange land she received ruby slippers, which could have taken her home right away had she known their power to do so. Every day I receive gifts from Papa that remind me that I have my home in Him. I can be at home while in this strange land.
Today the gifts were found in Psalm one hundred and forty-six.
"How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God." (verse five) He is my help and my hope through all the details of life.
My response to this promise? "I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being!" (verse two)
I think this calls for a dance in these lovely slippers Papa gave me!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

My heart is so heavy; the sorrow is too much too bear. This morning I received news from a number of places and all of it is sad. People grieving, people struggling, relationships breaking apart. Too much, too much!!
For those who don't know to look to Papa the burdens are more than crushing. I know; I've been there.
With Him they are very intense, yet you get carried through them and do come out the other side. You don't know how; you just know Who.
Each morning I read from His love letter along with a few devotional thoughts of others, who are on this grand adventure. He speaks to my heart through one or all each day. Today His gift to me is Psalm sixty eight, verse nineteen. He intends for us to share all our gifts, so here receive this from His Heart and mine!
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation."
Did you pay attention to the word 'daily'? It could also read 'moment by moment.'
The previous eighteen verses remindsed me Who this One is that bears my burdens.
He is God. In Hebrew it is the word Elohim. Isn't that a wonderful word?! I love the Hebrew names for my God. They are so rich and descriptive!
He is Lord and Master; Adonai!
He is The LORD Who is the faithful promise keeper!
And He is Almighty!! El Shaddai!!
Though my heart aches, my hope is in You, my God, my Papa!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This morning my first thoughts were about insurance. Yikes! Not the way I want to start my day. Usually saying good morning to Papa is what comes to my mind before anything else.
My shoulders ached and my head was spinning. I got out of bed and spent the next hour going from thing to thing.
I made my tea and sat down to spend time with my Papa and next thing I knew I was up tending to "just one thing." You know the ball in an active pinball machine? That was me! Zinging here and there.
Oh, I'll just check my email quickly! Well, Papa had a message waiting for His girl in the first email that I opened.
"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man." Psalm 118:8
He knows. He understands. And He is with me; even as I bounce all over the place!
Okay, my Precious Friend, my Rock, my Fortress, my Advocate, my Comfort, my Strength. Thank you for reminding me that You alone are in charge; You have it all in hand!
I just received a call from the case coordinator at Gaylord. The insurance company relented and is now paying for the transport to Glendale!!! Whoa, my Papa takes such good care of us! How gracious He is!! Why do I allow myself to lose sight of the fact that we are in the care of the Almighty God. He is LORD of lords and King of kings and nothing is impossible for Him!!
Papa, guard my thoughts and fill them continually with Truth. You are Truth!