Friday, September 27, 2013
Leaning over the bed, my hand on her quilt-covered knee, the tears came but the words wouldn't.
I've never not known what to pray before — not in 30 years of praying.
But I am stumped this time. There is life hanging in the balance and she is moving through the murky fluid of this life toward her heavenly eternity so quickly now. I know I'm letting her down in my speechless stupor, but I can't help it.
Do you pray for healing? Rest? Or that she would just stop breathing? Please, Lord, no more effort? This life has become such effort! Do I tell her goodbye? It doesn't feel right. Do you do that at a death bed?
So I don't say anything and feel inadequate.
I kneel down at the foot of the bed, my hand on Noemi's bony knee and breathe. I breathe in the presence of the Lord. Because, no doubt about it, He is here.
First sight of a newborn straight out of the womb is our closest glimpse of heaven. And I saw on the news this week that the newborn scent is addictive. The brain responds in the same places and the same ways it does when addicted to vices.
Could the longing for heaven be our vice?
Because I swear, when I had no words last night and could only get to my knees while my husband whispered Spanish into his mother's unconscious ears, I did what's taboo — I stared at her, speechless, wanting to memorize the holiness in the room.
Slipping into heaven is the same glimpse of our Maker and Home as sliding into this life.
It's intoxicating, not morbid, and I'm not letting her down. Rather, she is letting me in.
That's what I know to be true in my wide-eyed wonder.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
(1 Corinthians 15:55)
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I looked up and there she was, a vision coming down the sterile hallway in her crisp lab coat. I had averted my troubled gaze from my husband's jaundiced brow to see whose staccato footsteps were echoing off the tile floor. Her walk was confident, and that's how she first ministered to me. That and the empathetic tilt of her head. Her left-breast monogram said RN; Her grim smile said survivor and friend.
She looked all over the hospital for us because we were in X-Ray getting a needle-guided biopsy. "This not knowing is the hardest part," Kay said. She knew this because her husband had just finished treatment for his own lymphoma. Her hug, though there were countless preceeding others, was my first glimpse from our trial to the other side of it.
They had gotten through it; Maybe we could, too.
Last Friday and eleven years later, Mike and I walked into another hospital and took the elevator to the oncology floor. We prayed and held their hands and kissed their babies. We got to be the confident walk and head tilted just so for Brian and Charity, their bridge to the other side of their fear and waiting and wondering.
There it was, all Facebook official: a prayer request from my nephew who was just laid off. My thoughts went immediately to his wife Anabelle, because we've been there too--twice, in fact. I tap out the text message praying I am the living, breathing proof that they, too, can get through this.
Sometimes, real hospitality comes form having been in the hospital.
Sometimes, being in the hospital is easier when you know future hospital(ity) will be its offspring.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Rick sent me this scripture when my brother Jeff died. I shared it with Rick's brother Jeff when Rick died. It was my comfort when Mike's cancer raged unchecked, so I shared it with Charity this weekend. And I pray I am living it for Anabelle and Victor.
The best kind of comfort is born in affliction. It may be the consolation prize from your trial, but it is a prize.
#TellHisStory with Jennifer.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
1. He is the sandwich-maker.
2. He winks at me at the kitchen table.
3. He doesn't mind doing laundry.
4. He waits up late for Adrian.
5. That he rented a VCR on our wedding night so I could watch the wedding. First.
6. That even though I promised I'd never tell anyone that, it's not that humiliating anymore.
7. His from-the-hip wisdom when he talks with our children. It amazes me every time.
8. Watching him go gray.
9. That he didn't die from pancreatitis or cancer, although he really, really scared me on both counts.
10. He is more zealous than any other man I know.
11. He is a gentleman and treats me like a lady. Always.
12. He is funny.
13. The kids maintain that he's not, but they say so while they are laughing at his quips.
14. His knowledge and love of God's word.
15. That we can speak our own language.
16. When he left for Africa last month, we had an entire conversation with no words, only texted pictures.
17. Twenty-four years together and all the things that come to a long-time marriage that can't be rushed or even foreseen. So worth the wait.
18. That he spent his honeymoon at his new bride's grandparents' winter home in Florida.
19. Even after they changed their plans and came home early.
20. That he decided to live a healthy lifestyle 10 years ago, and has never quit.
21. For letting me finish college after we married.
22. Because you wash my car and keep air in my tires.
23. That he has faced adversity and failures with a rare mix of dignity and humility.
24. When I am lost and even though I have a smart phone with GPS, he looks up the map on his own phone or computer and interrupts what he's doing and talks me through it.
25. That he honed his preaching skills in the bathroom mirror with shaving cream on his face.
26. He's a better preacher because his first humble audience was the unshaven man in the mirror.
27. That he no longer needs to practice in the mirror.
28. He's not afraid to cry.
29. He's not afraid to speak the truth when it needs to be said, even when it hurts and is a real challenge.
30. He lives his convictions even when it's inconvenient.
31. He loves me. Very well, in fact.
32. That he's daring and he doesn't forget to grab my hand and take me with him on those adventures.
33. That he picked Duchess because she was the runt of the litter.
34. That's probably how he chose me too. He's a sucker for the underdog.
35. The way he secured our first date, by not being able to actually ask the question.
36. That he let me pick out the engagement ring, and doesn't mind that I later traded it for my grandmother's ring.
37. He is not easily angered, or insecure or testy.
38. He does what it takes to get the job done, no matter what the job.
39. Our many love songs blogged and Facebooked and the long ago duets we sang.
40. Even the one he sent me in the mail one time long before the convenience of internet and youtube.
41. I love him even though he forgets to wear his wedding ring these days.
42. Even though I'm the one who has to pay the bills and keep the checkbook.
43. Especially because he loves Jesus more than me.
44. Especially because he overlooks my faults and short-comings and still wakes up next to me no matter what has come or hasn't.
45. For the gift of Adrian
47. And Reagan
48. And for making me look forward to our empty nest.
Happy Birthday, Mike.
All my life and love,
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
I prayed and doubted in equal parts. They cancel each other out and leave me here, still here, under the weight of difficult circumstances. And God has me right where he wants me.
Not defeated. Not discouraged. Not stagnant, alone, or despondent.
A girl can easily tire of both doubting and praying, because both are a fight and hard work.
* * *
The wrought iron security gate broke away from its hinge and fell on top of me. I might have died there under that weight. It left me unconscious, badly injured, and in medical shock. I don't remember the accident or any of the subsequent events that day including the ambulance siren, emergency surgery, or landing in ICU.
The rest of these stories are at Laced With Grace today. I've got a strategy for when what you need isn't what you want. Maybe you need one of those? Come on over.