Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wisemen Still Seek Him

Our Christmas giving has taken an entirely new twist this year, due to hubby's inability to stand for long. Not being a dyed-in-the-wool shopper myself, I didn't make an extraordinary effort to get out on my own. Therefore, we gave each of our children and grandchildren cash this year as their gift from us. We got together with them all last night to exchange gifts (they got us a GPS, and hubby is like a little kid with a new toy), and spend some quality time together. Tomorrow night, Christmas Eve, we're having my mom and our daughter over for dinner (J & J have special times with their own family on Christmas Eve), then Mom, daughter and we are attending church for a beautiful communion/candlelight service -- daughter is going to her favorite Lutheran church, and the other three of us will be going to Calvary Life. Christmas Day, we plan to go to J & J's for lunch and to see the gifts that the children have received. What blessed times and wonderful memory making events. I'm saddened by all those who are running around aimlessly looking for gifts to please their loved ones, when the only real peace and joy come from the Peacemaker. I'm so thankful I know Him, especially in this time of my life. The wise man isn't the one with wealth or fame, but a wise man is the one who has invested his life in serving Christ and serving others. Wisemen still seek Him.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Little Things

At this stage in life, I'm learning that some of the most precious things are the little daily things that we take for granted. So, in light of niece's "Thankful Thursdays", I'm offering my two cents' worth.

1. I'm thankful I can walk without aid. Hubby is now past that point.
2. I'm thankful I can run (albeit it, slowly and carefully), jump (in moderation), and dance (if I choose). Hubby often mentions how he misses running now that he can't do it.
3. I'm thankful I can speak above a hoarse whisper, sing and even yell if I have a need to. Hubby's paralyzed vocal chord keeps him from doing any of the above.
4. I'm thankful that I can see clearly out of both eyes, although I do wear a contact lens. Hubby now has a damaged cornea and has very blurry vision out of his left eye.
5. I'm thankful that I've spent 42 years with the best man that could have ever come into my life. He truly fulfills me.
6. I'm thankful for laughter. We've learned that, even on difficult days, there are little nuggets of glee.

My list could honestly go on and on, but I think you get the drift. I wrote down a little quip a while back that says, "Take your focus off what you're going through and put it on what you're headed to!" I think that's good advice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It Keeps Getting Better and Better

A sweet niece blogged so beautifully recently about wishing she could stop the clock, because her two children were at such wonderful stages of their lives at this very moment. She wanted to hold on tightly to where they were. I totally understand, but I'm looking at life several more years down the road than she.

Every stage of life has some very special things to offer. When you look back, there isn't an age or time that has more gold to glean than the other. I loved being a newlywed. Life was an adventure, and I had a new partner to share it with. We dreamed together, laughed together, and even cried together. But I love babies. So, when our two little ones came, I had totally found my niche. I loved being a mom, albeit a very young and stupid one sometimes. Then my babies were toddlers, tweens, teens and beyond. There were, of course, problems to be dealt with, tears to wipe, and achievements to cheer - but every single year brought wonderful packages to put in my memory box. Then came the grandchildren. Wow! Nothing like it.

We're aging. We walk more slowly, not as much bounce in our step. We creak a little when we bend, and hubby is requiring more of my time than I feel like I have time to give. But I still wouldn't trade where I am right now, right here for anything. There have been so many lessons to learn. I pray I've learned them well. There has been so much wisdom to pass on (I can hardly type the word without personal doubts). I pray I haven't dropped the baton. One thing is for certain. I've loved the time shared with friends and family more than I could ever tell. Don't stop the clock. The best is yet to come!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

Last night and today were the annual Christmas craft days with the grandkids. We had Stephen last night and the girls today (the girls had a sleepover last night to attend, and he had a party to attend this afternoon). Usually, they all come together, but Stephen always likes his exclusive time with us.

Dondra had, as usual, come up with some cute crafts for the kids to do for their parents, and it was a fun time. I worked with Stephen on the songs that he's going to do at Aunt Carolyn's for the Christmas performance. As I listened to him working on "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" my mind wandered back to a little boy and girl that used to live in our house. Jeff would pick up his guitar almost as soon as he walked in the door, and we couldn't keep Dondra off the piano. As a result, they're both very gifted musicians. I see the same talent in Stephen. He catches on so quickly and seems to have a natural knack for it. He loves the time I spend with him learning new songs, or the time Pa spends with him in the garage teaching him how to bend sheet metal. In general, he just loves the time he spends with us doing special things together.

It's always been important to us, since our grandkids moved to this area, to make memories with them. We've tried to make each visit with them special in some way. And often they'll recall to us things that they especially enjoyed from years back. It's working. We're making memories for them to carry for the rest of their lives. But it's a two-way street. While we're making memories for them, they're also filling a whole treasure chest full of memories for Pa and me. Sometimes we pool them all together -- our own two precious children, and the five grandchildren. All the stories seem to entwine with the passing of years. Instead of being two separate lifetimes, it's all a big storybook filled with laughter, joy, sorrow and, most of all, family. I hope Don and I leave a wonderful heritage full of memories for all of them that my mom and dad left for me. It's, indeed, a wonderful life.

Monday, December 8, 2008

You Gotta Laugh!

If I've learned anything at all this past year while dealing with hubby's illness, it's this: sometimes you've just gotta laugh! The progression of Don's disease has caused him to be extremely weak in his legs. Sometimes he can barely bear the weight of his own body, and certainly no added weight. This morning, I was in the bathroom fixing my hair, and Don was taking a shower. He finished and was drying off a bit in the tub before stepping out. I heard a loud kerplunk, and looked up to see he had slipped and fallen. When he landed, though, he landed cross-wise instead of length-wise, and was folded in half with one leg up over the side of the tub and his little tushie fully exposed. Once I had confirmed that he wasn't hurt, I started trying to help him out, but he was rather wedged in. We both started laughing. He commented, "Wouldn't it be awful to have to call 911 to come help when you're stuck like this with your hiney all up in the air?" The laughter rolled. It's true. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All Things Work Together

Today was the second day of Don's treatment. Outside of having to stick him three times to get the IV in, he did well. He decided to have them leave the stent (or shunt, or whatever it's called) in so he wouldn't have to be re-stuck tomorrow. The stent is very uncomfortable, though, because they wrapped it pretty tight and evidently pulled it to the side or something. Anyway, he's doing fine but thinks he'll have them go ahead and take it out again tomorrow.

Our Pastor called the two of us up for special prayer Sunday morning. He said he felt like that day was a turning point for us (or words similar to that). When we got home from church, I had an e-mail from my former boss, a Catholic man. The title line read "Concerned." The e-mail said, simply, "I've had a concerned feeling for you lately. Is everything okay?" I opened the book we're studying in our Sunday School class, and the next chapter is "The High Value of Trials." We turned on Joel Osteen, and his topic was something like, "Getting the Best Out of Adversity." I looked at Don, and both our jaws dropped. What was God trying to tell us? Are we about to be finished with this trial we've been going through, or is there another trial around the corner that He's preparing us for. On top of all that, both days that Don has gone in for treatment, one of the volunteers has spent almost the entire time out in the waiting room talking to me. She was raised Catholic, but gave her life to the Lord in 2005 (and actually attends the church we attended in East Alton for nearly 20 years). She's still like a baby in her faith and has had a lot of really hard times in her life. I feel like God has been right there with me each day as I speak to her about God's plan for her specifically.

I'm amazed at how we're always in the right place at the right time if we're walking in the will of God. Things have been difficult this week - especially difficult. But, time after time, God has given us His assurance that He knows where we are, and we're not walking this path alone. What a precious thought.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Day - Another Hurdle

We received word today that they'll start Don's IVIG (intravaneous immuno-globulin) infusions tomorrow. He'll go in each morning this week as an outpatient at Alton Memorial Hospital, about 15 miles from us. The procedure should only take two or three hours, but it will be Tuesday - Friday of this week, then Monday of next week. I have no idea how many of these sessions he'll have to have; it may well depend upon the success or failure of the first series. Anyway, we're "girding our loins" for another battle.

I've been fragile emotionally the last few days, and I hate that. I'm attempting to think good thoughts and not get too caught up in the other problems life presents. I need my energy just to keep it together for Don right now. He's been so strong through this whole ordeal that he makes me ashamed for ever feeling down. Thank God for a sweet, positive husband!