There is always more on my heart than words can say, but I find journaling my thoughts or prayers a great exercise & makes a record to view of memories & our history - I invite you to join me if you can relate to authentic life.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday Night Light (a light reflection at the end of the day :)

I remember thinking my brothers' antics were the funniest thing. Between the 5 of them, there was entertainment everyday. One Sunday dinner, for instance, Tim asked someone to pass him the bread. On the opposite end of the table, Steve picked up a piece of bread and passed it to him - like a frisbee.
I laughed, in part, because Steve did it so casually, as if it were completely normal to send food through the air, and partly because Tim caught the 'pass' without missing a beat & proceeded to eat it. 
There is no way I could have got by with that, but the boys were older (at least out of high school) and didn't really get in 'trouble' anymore, so all my mom said was, "I raised you to have better manners than that!", or something to that affect.   I remember Steve's grin at my mom's exasperated sigh. Those unplanned antics are the memories that have been coming back to me a lot lately........

When I was young, I told my mom often that I wanted a bunch of boys, just like she had. What could be more fun? (My life long plan was to have at least 4 boys and twin girls - God had other plans, though. Funny how I thought I would have so much more control of my life :).
When I would tell my mom about the houseful of boys I was going to have, she would smile, but it wasn't quite as enthusiastic as you would expect. Probably because it was usually when I was laughing at the boys when she thought they were being impolite. She would fondly reply, "Oh yes, it's fun!", but she would also shake her head a little, with a sigh and look I didn't recognize yet, and say something about being so busy with 'all those naughty little boys', or how she didn't understand how they didn't remember what they were taught.  I now recognize that look!

I am as thrilled as can be to have 3 boys (and it's close to my plan of 4!), plus a bunch of 'adopted' boys, but,  boys are exhausting! Do mothers of girls say the same thing? My daughter is very easy to work with, but maybe that's because she is not in a pack that has the majority of the house...

Being a mom has changed me and I no longer see actions, like tossing bread, nearly as fun as I used to! Now, it's my sons!  I am the one who's responsible for training them. When they were younger, I could smile at things like that, because they still had time for all of the things I taught them to show through. But, now they are teens, and time is running out! If they haven't learned from me by now, I don't know what it will take!
I have to say, I tend to feel more concern than enjoyment when my teen boys can't make a simple car ride to church without doing some sort of bodily harm to each other!
Or, make it through a church service without creating some type of torture,  making it so that the one being afflicted has to deal with the pain without reacting.
My boys think being loud is a must, and licking ketchup off their plates should be normal.
The more sarcastic they can be with each other and friends, is better, they believe, even when it's hardly sarcasm anymore, but just downright mean.
They find it necessary to run through the house and they wrestle no matter if the one they are picking on is already occupied by doing dishes or homework. 
They put food in the microwave with no plate or napkin, even though they always have the job of cleaning the microwave as a consequence.
Scaring me and telling inappropriate jokes never get old to them.
They jump to hit every ceiling and doorway in the house, and if it smudges, they don't see a problem. It just proves to their other brothers that they could reach it.
They are too tough for warm clothes.
They think they know more than me.
They tell me I worry too much about the little things, like, showers, brushing teeth and cleaning. How could anyone worry too much about that?

That list could be longer - it is by no means extensive! Where did all my teaching, training, and praying go???!!  I honestly taught them manners, kindness, cleanliness, and respect. I promise!   *big sigh*

I'm so glad I got to see my mom wonder if her boys would ever remember all they were taught, now that I am on the other side of it.  When I remember that, it helps me to enjoy my boys being boys with a little less mother concern, because it turns out my mom didn't need to worry - her boys had learned from her training, listened to her words of wisdom and proved that they were responsible men with manners when it became necessary.
If my boys turn out like their uncles, they will be just fine :)   I guess it just means that they are not going to show it a minute before they have to.  :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seeing Joel....

Joel and I - Thanksgiving 2010
Walking into Joel’s hospital room was another reminder of how much I really dislike hospitals (except for the maternity wards, that is). It was dark in there, and a curtain was pulled to help keep germs out. We had to put on a gown, gloves and mask before we entered all the way.  The sounds of his machines were the only noises in there and all I could think of was how awful an environment that must be for him and Wendy to live in for days on end. When I am at work in my beautiful environment, or working around my house and spending time with my family, Joel and Wendy are sitting up in that room, waiting for healing.
I was surprised to see that Joel had a full beard! He has worn a goatee occasionally, but never a beard. The chemo had actually  made it so that he grew a beard easily. It was nice – he looks good in it. All the swelling was finally gone from his face and neck, also, which had been there since January. I breathed a sigh of relief because he looked a little healthier than I anticipated.
 Joel’s health has gone markedly downhill, even in the last week. He no longer has the strength to walk on his own, and is weak and exhausted from simple procedures. His shoulders and spine have a lot of pain from the cancer, so the medical personnel adjusting his position in bed, or to hear his lungs, etc. is very painful for him. His chest x-ray shows that his pneumonia is improving, but his white blood cell count is still not going down.  There hasn’t been a determination on what is causing his heart rate to beat so rapidly, so he is on heart medication, which is at least controlling it. The only possibility for chemo is when he is strong enough after the pneumonia is gone, and it can only be through clinical trials. If he cannot walk through the doors, they will not even do those. He gets very hot and claustrophobic in his small room, but if the fan is on him for too long, his traech dries out easily.
Joel has beautiful eyes with super long eyelashes and they were very expressive as usual, which helped with communicating with him.  He motioned with his hands and moved his feet a little, too. Other than that, his only move was to reach up for Mark’s hand, but then the look on his face from the torment it caused his shoulder made me want to cry. You could tell he didn't expect it and he looked like a little boy when the pain hit him.  He was looking up at Mark and the surprise, anguish, and vulnerability in that look was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever seen. I can't even describe it adquately. Mark quickly helped Joel get his arm down to give him relief and let go of his hand.  Joel tried to recover his expression fast, but you could tell it was hard. That look is haunting me.
It was great to just hold Joel’s hand, he kept rubbing my fingers. When we were visiting in his room, he did try to talk a little. He’s actually harder to understand and does less talking now than after his surgery on his tongue. Wendy said that he barely talks anymore, so she was glad to see his efforts today.  He only said a couple of short things, though, like ‘I love you’ .  He kept falling asleep – he just couldn’t stay awake. He is on morphine, so that is probably a part of it, but Wendy says it is happening more so than had been previously. While we were there, a Home Care lady came in and let him and Wendy know that they would be delivering a hospital bed and a walker with a seat on it, to his house tomorrow, since that is when they are looking at discharge. He will have a visiting nurse still, plus, Wendy will still be devoting all her time for care for him, and they hope to have a therapist in for physical therapy before long. I cannot imagine how he can endure most exercises, but they will be careful with him, I'm sure.
When we left, I had to blow him a kiss because of the masks. He gave Mark and me each the 'I love you' hand sign.
Our family is all gathering up here for Thanksgiving, so everyone can be close to Joel. I hope and pray it can be a time where he can enjoy everyone, even if it is for moments at a time, like with us today. It means so much to him to have family close.  It means so much to our family to be together.
Joel needs prayer for strength and healing.  His family needs strength and comfort. Wendy will be talking with the kids tonight to make sure they are aware of what all this means. She wants to make sure they are aware of the possibilities, just in case. How do you have that kind of talk with your kids? I know God will give her grace and strength, but my heart hurts for her. I ache for my nieces and nephew. It breaks for Joel and how he is suffering, as well as his worry over his family. He has asked his son to take care of Wendy and the girls, in the event that he is no longer here. My nephew has already done a stand up job of getting the girls to school, taking care of  various needs they or the house has, and running Joel's trash business. He has put his Master's education on hold to take care of the family.The girls make Wendy a sack lunch daily, the kids bring it to the hospital in the morning, then come see Joel and Wendy after school, and then go home to take care of homework, supper and needs, there. I am so proud of all of them.
These heart wrenching times really show the beauty in Joel’s family. Joel’s strength of will to live and to get better, as well as to keep witnessing for Christ, are some examples. The way his kids have handled this whole year of changes, is another. And, the way his wife serves him with unwavering love, patience and strength, is yet another. She doesn’t think she is strong, but she is amazing. Christ shows through her, that is for certain. Wendy's mom died of cancer, when she and Joel had been married for just 3 weeks, so for Joel to have cancer, too, brings back hard memories.   
I'm glad God has them in HIS hands. He can do what we cannot, and that brings a lot of comfort to our family, who would love to wipe out all of their problems and suffering, if we only could.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Answering the Phone is Bad for You

I've determined that answering the phone is bad for you.
Okay, so, maybe it isn't bad for everyone, but it is for me.   My phone ringing can actually cause me anxiety. Not always, but often enough.

I hate hearing words I don't want to hear so much that I think I've actually decided, subconsciously, that I could avoid all kinds of things if I didn't answer my phone! I usually do answer my phone, of course, because that's the necessary thing to do - but I don't want to much of the time. If you know me well, you know I almost never check my voicemail. I hate it. I am realizing today, though, that there's probably an actual reason behind that. I've vaguely wondered why I avoided messages or felt nervous by calls, but I haven't given it much thought. I get many more normal phone calls than not, so I guess I haven't given the phone calls I hate the credit they deserve. It must be like negative comments - one negative carries as much power as 10 positive.

Today, when my phone rang and my heart started pounding, I fully realized the connection between messages/phone calls and my aversion. Calls have too often been life changing, unwelcome messages.
I'm going to have to work on my anxiety, but, seriously, can you blame me for wanting to ignore things that have brought such bad news, too many times? And, sure enough, today's phone call wasn't great. The ambulance had to come pick up Joel because of some problems with his heart, which at this point we believe was caused by some medicine. I'll find out more from Wendy later.

Today's call made me think of another Sunday afternoon when we received a call informing us that our very incredible, precious nephew had been in an accident and killed. His brother was in the same accident and hurt very badly. I will never forget the heartbreak in my sister-n-laws voice, or how a normal day turned horrific so fast. And there have been other calls, as well.

So, yep, I guess it makes sense that I'm phone-shy. I just find it so interesting that there are things that go on within us that we don't always recognize. I don't think I will ever cease to be amazed at the connection between mind and body. It is incredible how intricately God made us.
It's good that I am becoming aware of what affects me, and it will give me a chance to get over that hurdle. But, with Joel being sick right now, it's going to be harder. I would much prefer to take this aversion of    phone calls as far as I can -- no news is good news, I always say!  :).   Unfortunately, hiding isn't the answer to things I fear, even though it sounds tempting, so I can't give into the desire for denial. :/

I could take this time to remind everyone that if they called me more often, I wouldn't worry when their name shows up on my screen, but I won't. :)     The other day, I actually had my knees almost buckle when I was carrying my lunch plate at work, because my niece, who hasn't called me for so long, was ringing in! It's not that I've called her either( I've been bad about that), but I felt such huge relief when she just wanted to ask me about homeschooling, haha! :)  
I really, really do hope that we get some exciting phone calls in the future of healing and blessings ---   so maybe everytime I feel anxious I should just take that time to pray for Joel's healing and my dad's health.

When I find out more about what happened with Joel today, I will pass it on. And, for those of us that receive phone calls, whom I know have the same apprehension, don't fear!   God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. II Tim. 2:7


P.S. Text messages don't cause the same anxiety. Weird.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Prayer Warriors - Defining Moment Series

The Defining Moments blogs are about the true definition of our family. The modern day Job events may define to a point, but that's not all there is!

I can't remember how many times I've wanted or needed my dad for some reason when I was growing up, & I would find him on his knees in prayer in his bedroom or office at the church. Sometimes he would be at the altar or pew in the auditorium, or kneeling against his favorite chair in our living room. (He never turned me away if I needed him, he would just patiently welcome me, & then continue praying after he helped me. :)
Taking time to pray was a very specific act of my dad & mom both. They prayed at my bedside when I was sick, or when my dog was killed, or my brothers left for college,  among countless other times. Placing their loved ones into God's hands was, & still is, a constant act for them.

I will never forget the many times my dad prayed for me when I was sick, with his hand on my hand, or maybe my head. He would come over to my house & do the same for my kids when he lived close enough.
I will never forget my dad gathering all the family around in the bedroom at my brother Tim's house & we poured our hearts out to God to ease my brother Steve's suffering & heal him.
Every trip we took started with prayer.
I remember being along on visitations with my parents & they always prayed with the ones they were visiting.
I remember how often they prayed with their pastor friends.
I remember countless times they praised God for who He was.
I remember well how they thanked Him for each of their grandbabies.
They continue to pray without ceasing.

I am increasingly grateful for my parents example & legacy. I love the memories they gave me & I love how they sought out God & showed our family how God was the center of everything in our lives.
I see that the seeds they've sown is carrying on. My brothers & sisters-n-law have prayed with us & for us often. It doesn't matter if it's over the phone or through an email, they take the time to pray. Nieces & nephews offer their prayer often. Alan initiates prayer together every night. Nate has prayed at every opportunity since he was small, no matter how many people were around or whether he knew them or not. I will always treasure my little boy praying multiple times daily for his Uncle Mark to get better, & any other concerns at the time.

So, today I am grateful for prayer being part of our story. When we pray about Joel's cancer, my dad's dementia, my husband's job, etc.. I want to remember that we are not just undergoing trials - we are becoming prayer warriors.