Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A day that lives in infamy

There are many dates that live in infamy. Pearl Harbor, September 11th and others are dates that stand out in the memories of those who were alive at the time. Dates of horror. Dates of tragedy. Dates when everything changed.

For me a date that lives in infamy is May 23, 2001. 16 years ago today.

On that day my mom went in for a heart catheterization.  She had had a few mild heart attacks the weekend before and they needed to address the issues. My mom had had lupus and had been on prednisone for over 25 years and I don't know that the heart surgeon had noticed that when looking at her history or maybe he knew but decided to still risk the procedure despite her brittle blood vessels. The stint went through her blood vessel and they lost her for 10 minutes and worked on her for 30 minutes to bring her back. Not long afterwards she had a stroke and she spent the next several weeks in and out of ICUs before being stable enough to be transferred to a nursing home where she spent the rest of her life.

I came across some pictures the other day, pictures of that season, that season I don't like to remember.

I love remembering my mom like this:

It's hard to see pictures like this, when she first got transferred to the senior living facility in August.
 One thing I love about this picture though is seeing my dad read to my mom. I don't know that he ever read aloud to her before this season unless it was something he found interesting from the newspaper and I don't know if they had regular time in the Bible together before then but I know that time in God's Word was important to mom before May 23, her Bible had the Daily Bread in it opened to May 23th so I know that she read it before going to the hospital that fateful morning. Dad made it a priority to read God's Word to her since she could no longer read it for herself. It was so neat to watch my dad care for my mom and read to her from God's Word every day. He was an amazing, faithful caregiver. That's something I didn't really appreciate or realize at the time, young as I was.
We were hoping that mom would be able to someday to come home. We put our lives and plans on hold and moved from TN to NY to help out my dad, knowing that he wouldn't be able to do it on his own. The picture above is from a chance we got to bring mom home for an outing. It appears our cat made itself at home in her lap and she looks to be enjoying listening to Russ as we talked to him while he was off at college. [Do you remember being able to talk on 3 different phones in the same conversation??] She had lots of speech therapy and I know that at one point my aunt got her to say "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" but after May 23 she could never really communicate with words. I now wonder how that made her feel, as a teacher and public speaker.
After a while dad bought a wheelchair van and she got a bit better so he was able to take her on outings more often. This picture is from Thanksgiving when we got to take her to our family gathering at my grandparents' house.

My mom loved being a grandma and, though I prefer the pictures of her from the times she snuck down to TN to snuggle that Caleb...
 Or the time we made it to NY for Thanksgiving and to show off our boy...

 Most of the time she spent with Caleb was while she was in a hospital bed on Sunday afternoons after church when we would go and spend the afternoon with her for all those months that she was in the nursing home. I used to hate these pictures because I don't want to remember mom that way but as I came across them I realize that I am so glad I have these pictures of my parents enjoying Caleb during a visit.


They loved to watch him toddling around her room, playing with the hospital curtains and "helping" to push her wheelchair. Once a month dad's cousin and her husband and a few of their friends would come with a guitar and sing some songs to mom, and mom and dad really enjoyed watching Caleb dance to the music. How I wish I would have gone and visited her more...

 The summer of 2002 we were able to bring her to my grandparent's backyard a few times for picnics and, even though she couldn't eat (she could never pass a swallow test), she enjoyed watching people, especially Caleb splashing in the pool.
We even got to have a joint birthday party together since our birthdays are only 5 days apart.
I may or may not have snuck her a taste of that whipped cream.

I wish I could find a copy of the picture from October when we had Hannah's baby dedication at church. Glenn's mom and grandma had come out for a wedding so Caleb had 5 grandmas at church that day and he just kept turning around and saying, "Grandma? Grandma? Grandma? Grandma? Grandma?" There's a picture of mom "holding" baby Hannah that I may stick in here someday if I find it.

I used to hate these pictures because they were so painful but, looking at them today, I am so thankful that I have them and I'm putting them here because I want a record of this season. Yes, it was an incredibly painful season of my life for so many reasons and I have so many regrets from that season and it still hurts to see mom all curled up like that remembering her limitations and I miss my parents terribly but God has taught me so much both during that season and since, as a result of it.

Though I sure miss and long for wisdom from this lady that visited us for Easter not too long before...
I'm glad I had the chance to live nearby and have time with this version of her for about 19 months.

I'm also thankful that God was merciful and took her home in His perfect timing so she no longer has that old, broken, deteriorating body. What I wouldn't give to have a conversation with her, to glean some of her wisdom, but, instead, I get something better - I get to go directly to the One who was the source of all of her wisdom, the Savior that she loved so much.

Yes, May 23 is a day that lives in infamy for me but He is good and does good and I can trust that He knows best, even in giving us infamous days, because He uses them for His glory and our good and I am grateful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Soon this will all be but a happy memory.

"Soon this will all be but a happy memory."

These were my parting words as I left small group on Monday night. I then got choked up and left. Caleb asked me if it was legal to drive and cry. I told him I hope so because I've done it many times.

Our time in Fort Worth is coming to a close. It's hard to believe 4 years of residency are almost over. I know most of my residency wife friends are so glad it is almost over and that their husbands will soon have a more normal, hopefully better schedule.

Change-hater over here isn't as excited. I've gotten used to the "not normal" of residency. If you don't like one month it's ok. It's only a month. Unless you have back to back MCH rotations and even then it's not that bad, at least for me with almost grown humans to interact with at home. [Re-reading that, I wonder, actually, maybe I do like change as long as it doesn't involve saying goodbye and purging and packing.]

Of course, change-hater over here is also signing herself up for a life of almost constant change. A life of packing and purging every 1-3 years. A life of near constant hellos and goodbyes. It is a part of this journey we're on, until we get to go Home.

"Soon this will all be but a happy memory."

I cried as I said those words but later they made me smile. I am so grateful for the memories that I have had the privilege of having in this stage of my life. How much richer my life is because of the happy memories.

I was worried about coming to JPS because the impression that I had gotten was that it was not family friendly and the schedule would be unbearable to those at home. That has not been the case for me. God allowed Glenn to match with some incredible people some of whom we've had the privilege of living life and meeting with on a weekly basis for Bible study, encouragement and accountability. I am so grateful for these friends and the others I have been able to get to know through JPS. The schedule hasn't been that bad either. Again, it may help that I have pretty independent, almost grown humans living with me not small needy ones. Surprise, surprise, God knew what He was doing. Happy memories.

Another group of happy memories I'm mourning is the loss of our school family. At the end of PGY2 I was about to pull my hair out and quit homeschooling but God told me not to give up and pointed me towards Arlington Liber Academy, a school that meets once a week that has helped me grow as a mom and teacher and helped my kids grow as students and humans. The lessons we have learned there and the friends and mentors we have had have been priceless to us. Again, surprise, surprise, God knew what He was doing. Happy memories.

In choosing a house to live in for residency our priority was a less than five minute commute to the hospital. A friend had recommended that I look for a place near a church to get involved in. That was not a priority for me but that is exactly what God gave us. We live across the street from our church which has been SO convenient and, though it is far from perfect (probably because it is made up of humans and our family would have ruined it if it was perfect), it has been a great place for us to serve and build relationships. Many adults from there have loved, spoken truth to, prayed for, and invested in our family and for that I am very grateful. Surprise, surprise. Again, God knew what He was doing. More happy memories.

"Soon this will all be but a happy memory."

Yes, yes, it will. I now say that with a smile. I am so thankful for the memories. How grateful I am for our 4 years here. Thanks, God.

Should the Lord tarry, I am sure that there are many times in the future when I will "get" to say,
"Soon this will all be but a happy memory." I'm looking forward to and excited about the chance to keep making happy and not so happy memories and trusting the Lord that He will carry us through both.


Sunday, April 02, 2017

So Long, Tool - Part 1

Friday we said goodbye to Winnie, (no longer) our 2002 Ford Windstar. We welcomed her into our family in February of 2009, soon after our Burb died which was soon after Glenn got accepted to medical school. She's been a part of our family over 8 years. At least one of our kids don't remember life before her.

We've said goodbye to her before, almost 4 years ago just before residency started when her rear axle snapped on our way to NY for graduation. That time we resurrected her by putting a junkyard axle on her and on she rolled.

We said goodbye to her again last year when insurance considered her "totalled" after a hail storm. We then decided to keep her again and just roll with her dimpled and broken exterior and cracked windshield since she her only responsibility was to drive the less than 2 mile trip to the hospital and back every day and it would be a lot easier than going back to having one car. (We'd decided before hand not to drive her on the interstate since her frame was more rust than frame.)

Glenn always tells us the time you need to be most careful on the roads down here is when it is just starting to rain after it hasn't rained in a long time and oil has accumulated on the streets. That is what finally did her in last week. The mechanic who called Glenn about her after having her towed made us laugh. She doesn't look that bad on the outside but I'm not sure he'd ever seen a rustier, more unsafe frame. Even after costly repairs to the control arm and other things he told us her rusted out frame would deem her unsafe to drive. We knew that and were planning on getting rid of her in a couple of months when her inspection expired. She just broke up with us before we could break up with her.

I teared up as we left her with the guy who came to tow her away at the garage and we thanked God for providing her, for helping her last far longer than the 5 years I hoped she would last, for the many memories we made in her on road trips (especially MS4), and for keeping us safe in her despite her rusty frame even when she committed suicide into a curb.

Since we're back to one car again we get to juggle once again the "Do you need the van for anything? Do you need to go anywhere or should I just drive myself?" conversations that we've haven't had to have in a long time. Getting up early to run him to work reminds of regularly taking him to the schospital because we only had one car and parking was too expensive during medical school. This month Glenn is on Sports Med at an offsite clinic which means he has to travel farther than normal for work which will complicate things, especially when the kids and I have commitments at the same time. Thankfully, some of his colleagues are willing to help us out by taking him in or bringing him home a few times. I'm actually glad that he doesn't get to drive Winnie there because I-20 is a place of frequent accidents and a highway accident in her could have been deadly. God knows.

So, so long, Winnie. Thanks for the memories.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Gaining through losing

Every time I've read Philippians over the last few weeks as we've been studying it at church this passage has stuck out to me. He invites us to count everything as a loss, to let everything else go, to count all I have treasured as trash so that I can know Him more and, in so doing, become more like Him. 

"Surpassing value." I'm not suffering the loss of all things for no reason. I'm invited to do so because gaining Him is worth so much more than anything I could ever give up.

So today, as our pastor read 2:7-14, I raised my hand in surrender with tears running down my cheeks because I do want to know Him. I do want to be dressed in His righteousness that comes through faith, not based on anything I've done. I do want to know the power of His resurrection. I do, though the idea of it sometimes scares me, want to know the fellowship of His suffering because I know He is a faithful Companion in suffering and walking through suffering draws me closer to Him. I do want to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. I do want to press on toward the goal for the prize of His upward call. 

"Why would you want to spend your life on anything less?"

Why indeed. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"For His lovingkindness is everlasting."

We are walking through all kinds of emotions lately. Through all that we've been through our Father has been so faithful and we know in our heads that He doesn't change but as we look ahead to what He has next for us sometimes I get overwhelmed with the fear of the unknown and the fear of the known and all that must be accomplished in the next 135 days plus and/or minus 2 months. How grateful I am for whoever it was back at TTU that recommended reading through the book of Psalms backwards for the 150 days leading up to our wedding as we read through them again to the end of residency. The Psalms always help to put things in perspective. 

Yesterday we read Psalm 136. I read it again this morning with Glenn with him reading the first part of each verse and me quoting the constant end of each verse, "For His lovingkindness is everlasting." Oh how I love that Psalm. Whenever I read it I want to add so many more verses. Some that came to mind were:

"He provided a generous scholarship to Glenn to go to TTU, For His lovingkindness is everlasting." 
Then farther back:
"He allowed Sandy to come to know Him at camp when she was in high school and Roger when he was 8, For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
And farther back:
"Edwin and Jean to meet in band playing trombone, For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
And much farther back:
"A baby was born, the Son of Man, whose death paid the price for my sins, For His lovingkindness is everlasting."

Oh, and so many thousands of more verses. 

"For His lovingkindness is everlasting."

He works everything for His glory, His lovingkindness is everlasting, and I am so grateful. 

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Countdown Has Begun...

On a whim last Saturday I decided to check how many days we had left until 6/30/17, Glenn's last day of residency. It just happened to be 181 days and that made me smile because I had an idea.

In the days before our wedding and the days before the match we we did a 150 day countdown reading backwards through the book of Psalms. It was fun to do back in the summer of 1999 and gave us a way to connect knowing that we were both reading the same thing each day that last summer we spent apart. It was comforting to read backwards through the Psalms in the unknown of looking ahead to the match in the winter of 2013 as we needed the reminder to keep trusting Him as we were awaiting the news of where we would spend the next 3-4 years of our lives in training.

This year, starting with 181 days before we finish this season of our lives we have started doing a countdown again. This time we get to read backwards through the book of Proverbs as well. I trust that as we read we will be encouraged and challenged and focused as we look forward to and prepare for what He has next for us.

It's been a while. Words are slow to come from my fingers. I looked back to see what I had said about Psalm countdowns in the past and I was so encouraged to read three blog posts from the months before the match that I needed to read today and they have reminded me that I really need to write more. Maybe I will.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Surrender

START

Humperdinck: Surrender!
Westley: You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept.
Humperdinck: I give you full marks for bravery. Don’t make yourself a fool.
Westley: Ah, but how will you capture us? We know the secrets of the fire swamp. We can live there quite happily for some time, so whenever you feel like dying, feel free to visit.
Humperdinck: I tell you once again, surrender!
Westley: It will not happen.
Humperdinck: For the last time, surrender!
Westley: Death first!!
Buttercup: Will you promise not to hurt him?Humperdinck: What was that?
Westley: What was that?
Buttercup: If we surrender and I return with you, will you promise not to hurt this man 
Humperdinck: May I live a thousand years and never hunt again.... I swear it will be done.*

I, too, am asked to surrender.

At times I too want to make deals, like Buttercup, with the One asking me to surrender, "If I do surrender, will you promise that no harm will come to us? Will I always have my husband? Will my children always walk with You?" and so on...

The One asking me to surrender makes no such promise not to allow harm to come to us but instead He gives better promises like "In this world you will have trouble but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world" and "when you pass through the waters, I will be with you" and "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

And so I surrender. Not because I have confidence in myself, that I "know the secrets of the fire swamp," though I have been in the school of learning to be "content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want," but because I know the One who asks me to surrender. He is nothing like Prince Humperdink who has no intentions of keeping his promises. The One who asks me to surrender keeps His promises. I know that when I surrender all to Him whatever He allows to happen to us He will use for our good and His glory because He knows best.

He does not promise safety or ease but He does promise His presence, which is better by far. I know I can trust Him.

And so... I surrender.

* Quote from The Princess Bride by William Goldman.