Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a tribute

Today the world lost a great guy.  His name is Brad and he was 18 years old.  He lived his life with a muscle condition that left him pretty limited in mobility.  When he got a cold or something that would be simply a nuisance to most of us, it was easily life-threatening for Brad.  This morning, after fighting one of these illnesses for the last three weeks, Brad went to be with the Lord.

I didn't know Brad very well--but I admired him.  I watched him smile his way through church on Sundays, and fight his way through life.  A few memories of Brad stand out as I think of him tonight:

*  I fondly remember him standing with his walker, serving as an usher, handing out bulletins on Sundays, in spite of how hard it was for him to do so.

*  I remember enthusiastic games of "pass the pigs" on a high school retreat.  Brad had a knack for rolling the big ones...and was quite proud of it as well.

*  It warmed my heart to see some of our students learn how to help Brad physically so he could participate in youth group meetings.  He gave so much to them by sharing his needs and sharing his friendship.

Brad didn't complain, at least not that I heard.  He couldn't do everything and he was at peace with that it seemed.  I'm sure he had his days, his moments where he wished everything was different--but they didn't sour his outlook on life.  He readily gave a smile to anyone who needed one.

In 2008, I was asked to be the speaker at our High School retreat--and I gladly accepted.  I prepared four talks with the overarching theme of contentment.  I was ready to address how to be content in spite of circumstances (and ready to share the story of losing my son), being content with how God made us, and content with the relationships in our lives.  I prepared on and off for months, and knew God had given me the topic.

Then, I learned that Brad was going to be able to come.  I was so glad he would be there!  And then I imagined teaching what God gave me to teach with him there.  This young man whose body didn't work well, who has lived with frustration and pain that wouldn't likely go away in this life--that is who I am going to urge to be content?

Because of Brad--I was forced to ask myself once again if I really believed what I was about to teach.  Was it Truth?  If it's Truth, then it's true for Brad too.  As I wrestled with it all...God strengthened my faith and convictions.  I thank Brad for that.

And do you know what became evident as the weekend went on?  He might have been one of the most content people in attendance.  He taught us.  He taught me.

As my friend Beth put in her Facebook status, "I would say rest in peace, Brad, but the truth is, I bet he's running around like a crazy person on perfectly healthy legs in a perfectly healthy body, not resting."  I couldn't agree more with her sentiment.  

Well done, Brad.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I asked for a Christmas miracle...

If you read my blog, you might be tired of me talking about my hubby's back issues.  If  you want to read the drama of this week, click here and then here.  So, forgive me for mentioning it again, but this time it is to say something positive!  :0)

The week prior to Christmas, Dave was pretty much flat-out with back-pain.  We were scheduled to fly to FL at 6 am on Christmas day to visit his folks and take in DisneyWorld for three days.  I wasn't sure how he was going to do it...flying, luggage, walking, etc.  And the kids (and I) get so disappointed when he has to sit out of family things.  So, I asked God for a Christmas miracle.  I remember telling God that I understand that if this pain is in His Big-G-Good plan for us right now, that it may not go away.  I understand He has His purposes.  But I asked if there was anyway within His will for Dave to be able to be with us at Disney--so we could have a good family time together--would He please give us that miracle.

I am here to say that we got our miracle!  Dave was not pain-free by any means, but he was able to be up and around.  He got through the flights, and out of three days at the parks--He missed only one evening.  I am so thankful and wanted to give God the glory for that provision for our family.

I should have also prayed for the weather--cause it was FREEZING!  We now own mickey scarves and hats and fleeces and jackets... but we had fun and made a memory.  It was also super-crowded.  We've gone at Christmas time before--but this was more nuts than I ever remember.  Thankfully, we weren't feeling like we had to do everything--cause we never could have!  Special thanks to Nana and PopPop for making our trip was great!

Here are a few pictures from our trip:

Checking out the animal kingdom lodge. 
Pickle and Bubba with Mickey.

Nana and PopPop with the kids--waiting for Epcot's Candle Processional.

Dave and me riding the tram into Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Like my neon Mickey scarf? 
The kids after Bubba braved the Rockin' Roller Coaster for the first time.

Dave and the kids at Magic Kingdom on our last day--see, he's there!

That's our Christmas catch-up.  Linking up with Rachel and my friends over at Home Sanctuary today.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

well...the verdict

Today's puzzle piece was very different than I expected.  I had steeled myself for the news of a tumor.  For surgery.  For a possible answer to Dave's pain--or for even the worst news.  Mostly, I was hopeful this was the beginning of some treatment to solve this mess.  Instead, we got nothin.

Thankfully--the CT scan showed NO mass, and therefore NO cancer!  This is something to rejoice about, and I thank our God for this good news.  However, Dave's dear doctor, the only one who didn't just pass him off, who said they would get to the bottom of out of ideas.  He put Dave on a course of meds that may be a possible maintenance plan, and referred him to a chiropractor he trusts.  Otherwise, he can't help Dave any more.

When Dave gave me the news I should have done a happy dance.  No cancer.  No surgery to face.  But I felt so deflated.  Cause now we feel like we have nowhere to turn.  Are we to just accept this as his life for ever more?  As I told my fellow church staff members the news (we were in a meeting when I got the call) I began crying.  Not the reaction of someone relieved that her husband does not have cancer!  How embarrassing.  But I felt like I was grieving a bit--grieving the loss of the hope I had that this was the answer.  Grieving the hope of another treatment.  Feeling a bit hopeless.

My tears were graciously met with compassion from my coworkers.  After venting to them, and crying off all of my makeup, I felt a bit better.  I looked terrible and I had a splitting headache, but I felt better.  I think by talking it out, I got some perspective.  My hubby is not dying, and even if he has to spend the majority of his days laid up...I still have a relationship with him.  We will need to rethink the way we do life perhaps--but we will be doing it together.

I am grateful.  This is Good--of this I'm confident.  Even if I shed a few tears, my trust is in the Redeemer.

Monday, January 3, 2011

puzzle pieces

On New Year's Eve, the kids, my mother-in-law and I poured a jigsaw puzzle's worth of pieces on the table with hopes of completing it as the evening went on.  We knocked-off the edges right away, and then tried to tackle the middle.  We were quickly overwhelmed.  The puzzle was a picture of Mount Rushmore, and the majority of it was grey, tan, brown.  It was hard to get our bearings, and it wasn't as much fun anymore.  We found ourselves spending a lot of time studying pieces but barely making a dent in the big picture.  We decided to go back to our game playing and put the puzzle back in its box.

It reminded me of an analogy we reflected on in our children's ministry this past month.  The kids were tasked with completing jigsaw puzzles without the lid that showed them the picture.  They made some progress but, as predicted, wished they had the lid.  Our storyteller went on to describe a time in her life when she just couldn't understand the circumstances around her, when she couldn't see what God was doing in her life.  And God gave her that analogy.  He reminded her that He had the "lid" and that He knew exactly what picture He was creating with the pieces of her life...even if she was overwhelmed, or confused, or the pieces she thought should fit didn't fit where she thought they would.

That analogy, combined with a wonderful sermon series on Hope our pastor preached during advent--helped Dave and me to hear God saying to us that even though we don't know all that is going on, or what picture He is fashioning right now...He does know.  He has a plan.  He is making something beautiful...and we are to just wait and see it enfold.  It was one of those cool times when hubby and I both heard God saying the same thing to us.

Dave and me at Disney World--12/29/10
Some of the "pieces" we are dealing with--especially regarding Dave's ongoing back troubles--don't fit with the picture we'd like to create with our life.  We'd like him to be able-bodied.  We would like to be able to do everything we want to do as a family.  We would like to do away with the disappointments, and discouragement of his condition this last year and a half.  The pieces are confusing, and at times it's hard to get our bearings.  I'd like to put a piece of pain relief in the puzzle here, and a miraculous cure in there.

At this very moment, I am typing from a hospital waiting room, where Dave is undergoing a CT scan.  He had a bone scan on the 23rd, and it showed a "mass" in one of his rib-vertebrae joints.   We are hoping that this is the beginning of a solution for him--but have to admit our minds have wandered some to the potential scary we could face.

Yet, we remember that we don't know the picture...and who are we to try and force our choice of puzzle pieces into the places we think they should go?

And while it's tempting to want to quit and put the puzzle back in the box--I know that our God is putting a Big-G-Good picture together.  So we're trusting Him with the pieces we don't understand and embracing the journey.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

starting again...

It's a new year.  It's time to start over.  Make resolutions.  Have a fresh start.  I like the reflection that comes with this time of year...but I'm a little behind in the reflecting department.  We just returned from vacation in Florida late last night, and today, I've been rather comatose.

In my semi-conscious state tonight, I am beginning to think about what I want to strive for this new year.  And I am realizing, I don't really want anything new...just to get back to what I was already striving for.  I want to get back to blogging regularly (how did almost a month go by?).  To cut down on my diet coke consumption.  To eat healthier.  To cook more.  To exercise often.  To have fun family time.  To keep up with housework and laundry.  To show my husband how much I love him.  To be quiet enough to listen to God's voice leading me.

None of these things are new.  I'm not setting new goals.  I'm just starting again...  I'm starting again to make the little daily choices that add up to being who I want to be.  And I'm good with that.  God's mercies are new every morning and I'm starting again...

Happy New Year, bloggies.
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