Wednesday, November 10, 2021

There Is Hope




 On October 29th, shortly after 9 p.m., I had a freak accident in my home. Slipping on water as I entered the bathroom, my leg folded underneath and behind me as I crashed to the floor. I instantly knew my leg was broken, as they were never intended to bend in that direction. I started screaming immediately not only from pain, but also fear set in. I couldn't believe what had happened in a blink of an eye. I summoned the courage to roll and get my bent leg out from underneath me. My family came running towards my screams and entered the bathroom just as I was lifting my leg and placing it on the floor.  

All that followed was horrible. An entire night in the ER because a bed wasn't available.  4 mega doses of narcotics and the pain was so intense, I questioned if anything had been administered. Poor communication among nurses, doctors and x-ray techs. No one really knew what had been communicated to me.  Information was communicated incorrectly. And I was still writhing in pain for nearly 8 hours. I wanted to go home and attempt to sleep in my own bed.

With an immobilization brace that stretches the entire length of my left leg, I have been instructed to not bear weight even if I can, to always use my crutches, conserve my strength and focus on swelling reduction and healing. All of this without pain meds due to GI issues and the fact that they rarely help me.

Last Wednesday, I saw the Orthopedic Specialist and was thrilled to find out that my tibia plateau fracture is broken with a indentation next to it rather than broken with shattered bone. Shattered bone would mean surgery with two long pins and a plate that would stay in my leg forever. Indentation of the bone means no weight, immobile, tons of rest and hopefully slowly transitioning to a hinged brace by 6-8 weeks and hopefully off crutches by 12 weeks with a hinged brace and then I would begin physical therapy. Yes, arthritis will set in. Yes, I will need a knee replacement in the future. But not now.  When I questioned the Orthopedic Specialist about how many patients spend these next 6-8 weeks and don't improve significantly and then he ends up having to do surgery anyway. He explained it has never happened and he wouldn't make the recommendation to avoid surgery now if it wouldn't benefit me in the long run. And he heard me when I said I need to get myself back to a point where I can take two walks a day with my dog swim whenever I want. 

So what do I do now until I see the specialist again on the 17th of November? Exactly what he said. Nothing. I move from couch to bed to chair and back again.  I am not a patient patient. I hate sitting and laying all day when I see so many things that need to be taken care of. Being completely helpless is completely humbling. 

I unfortunately have also developed a severe allergic reaction to something and my body is covered in hives. It makes me miserable and am dealing with itchy, burning skin and and many bloody sores. I look like a pin cushion and have tried every over the counter and prescription med under the sun. Two more meds were called in today to the pharmacy from a TeleMed Doctor. It is painful, disheartening and frustrating as the broken leg was already more than I can handle. 

But what have I discovered in the throes of misery? Kindness, beautiful servant hearts and that my local community is ready to serve others at a moment's notice. Jessica started a meal train and countless friends have signed up to bring meals into the month of December. Dawn brought me a desperately needed wheelchair.  Sharon and Emily have come to my home midday for the last 6 weekdays to care for me. Cassie has come every day for the last 6 weekdays to let my dog outside at 10 a.m. Michele jumped out of her car to walk with Josh and I on my first walk this past Sunday in the wheelchair. Alice asked me about my favorite foods from Trader Joes. And Jennifer picked up grocery essentials. Each of these dear people helped me and I am eternally grateful.

Was this all by chance? No. Never. It was orchestrated by a God who cares about the details. He cares about dogs needing to go outside. He cares about loneliness setting in and sending friends at the right time. He cares about nourishment and blessing a family when everything seems to be too much. And He cares about physical safety and provides help to walk on stairs and move pillows and adjust painful brace straps. God cares about each and every detail, because he loves and cares for us. He enables people to bless someone during their time of need.

While I am so grateful, I hope to also encourage you as the reader. If you are ever given the opportunity to help someone in need, do it. Without hesitation. Make that meal, hold someone's hand and pray with them, help with children and car rides. Be the one that selflessly fills in the gaps. 

I have a long road ahead of me, but I am so happy to know that help is there. My needs are great. I can not shower or dress on my own and I can't reach all of my wounds which need medication and bandages applied. But I also know that these needs will not always be present. And I look forward to a day when the pain is less, I am more mobile and everyday life becomes a bit less challenging. I am hopeful as I know how faithful God has been and will always be.

  • Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Some Assembly Required

 


The Minnesota State Fair is in full swing. Our family is excited to attend this Thursday. Covid-19 made life come to a complete standstill. One of the events that was cancelled last year was the fair. Most people would understand that it was essential that the fair was cancelled along with so many other activities.  As a parent of a special needs young man, the fair cancellation was one of the hardest things for me to explain to our son.  Every summer, our son looks forward to four main activities. A destination vacation with our friends, a trip to the cabin, a long weekend at Madden's and day well spent at The Minnesota State Fair. Zach has been tuning in to the local news daily and watching intently as the Great Minnesota Get Back Together took shape.

Zach yelled to me early last week from the living room. I came hustling up from the laundry room in the basement and found Zach standing face to face in front of the T.V. smiling ear to ear. He pushed play on the Tivo remote and there was a story about the assembly of the Ferris wheel at fair.  Zach exclaimed, "Wait a minute! Where did it go? Where is the Ferris wheel?"

"Zach, some of the rides aren't at the fair all year long. When they close down when the fair is done, they take some of the rides down. The Ferris wheel needs to put together so that you can ride it next week." I attempted to explain to him.

"Some assembly is required." Zach responded. 

I was shell shocked. How did he know what that meant? I was so confused. I asked him to hand me the remote and I pushed rewind for about a minute back in the story. Sure enough, one of the news anchors stated, "Some assembly is required on most rides at The Minnesota State Fair..."

My amazing son was able to grasp a concept that he may have not heard before and then articulate it appropriately to describe what we were seeing on the T.V. His beautiful mind is an amazing thing to witness. Zach may not understand everything, he may not be able to talk about everything, but he takes pride in the new things he learns each and every day. 

The statement- Some Assembly Required- stayed with for the next few days. We have been working a lot in our home, and have found so many things require assembly. Shelves, curtain rods, furniture. The list is endless. Things are purchased, assembled and replaced. 

I thought of all that we encounter in life that comes in pieces. Usually people. Broken, busted edges, wounded from life, from prior relationships, depleted and even diminished people who struggle even with the concept of unrealized dreams. Not sure where to go, what to do first, or even how to take the first step forward, many of the people are discovered by others when they are in such a state. And sometimes, that broken person is actually us.  

It isn't our job to fix anyone. We aren't the ones that can do it. To pick up the pieces they have toted along with them.  We can love them, we can encourage them and we can be the light when darkness seems to take over. But we can't fix. Sometimes leading by example and modeling what taking the next step looks like is essential. Even showing why when life presses in, doing the next best thing is of the utmost importance. But not fix. 

But what do we do when we are the broken one? The one that hurts, and grieves and mourns, the one that feels aimless and just needs something, anything to change? Often, time heals. Piece by piece is restored and placed back appropriately. A factory reset per se. The assembly required is essential and necessary. 

Life has been challenging for me this summer, and these past few weeks seem to have provided food for fodder. I know what it feels like to be dismantled, but I also know what it feels like to built up. Restored and stronger than I was to begin with.  I sit with wise counsel, I am encouraged and prayed for, I am loved and able to hear and apply truth. 

The assembly required in me has made me hopeful. It has enabled me to take a step forward into these fall months not only ready, but excited for what is next.  

When I see the Ferris wheel at The Minnesota State Fair this Thursday, I think I will appreciate it more than I ever have. Yes, I find a story to share in just about everything. But now I understand how important it is to accept that some assembly is required. The outcome is worth it. Every time. 





Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Happy Birthday, Mom




Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. She passed away at the young age of 67. Liver Cancer was the diagnosis and it claimed her in just a few short months. I say the diagnosis and not her diagnosis for a reason. A diagnosis is defined as “The process of identifying a disease, condition, or injury from its signs and symptoms”. My mom didn’t have any signs or symptoms of the Stage 4 Cholangiocarcinoma (Cancer of the Liver Bile Ducts). There weren’t symptoms to help diagnose. It was a fluke discovery when something was picked up on a blood test. Additional tests were run to figure out what was so confusing on the blood tests. She was given a diagnosis that was unheard of. At least we thought so. Stage 4, radiation and chemo wouldn’t help as it may cause more harm than good, surgery was impossible and the goal would be to make her as comfortable as possible focusing on Palliative Care in her final months. Months. They gave her only months. This diagnosis was confusing and hard to accept for my sister and I. Our mom smiled and held our hands and said she was always ready to meet Jesus. 


When you look at someone who possessed as much pep and joy as my mom did, Cancer didn’t fit into that picture of who she was. There was no room. She had someone who needed help, a phone call with words of encouragement that needed to be made, a plant for a friend that needed to be watered. She had bread that needed to be baked as a gift and pretzels and chocolates that needed to be made and packed for the next wedding reception that she would attend. Cancer simply needed to take a number and get in line. Because our mom didn't ask for it, didn’t need it, and had places to go and people to see.


I reminded her that to be absent from the body meant she would be in the presence of her King. She smiled and patted my hand and drifted back to sleep. Our mom loved deeply right up until her final moments here on this earth. She prayed for others, held other people’s hands and made sure that everyone knew they were loved and she was thankful for them. She was ready to be in the presence of her Savior. 


Today, I miss my mom, but the joy that sweeps over me when I know she isn’t in any pain, and she is where she was ready to be. I will always miss her. That will never change. But today, I have shed only a few tears remembering her. I walked a back alley in Minneapolis this afternoon on the way to a client’s home and thought how if she were to be walking with me, she would have noted how pretty the grass was growing in each crack. She would have pointed out the overgrown trees and how she loved the wood-paneled Datsun sitting in a driveway. She would have talked about all the things she saw and what she was thinking about. She surely would have spoken about Jesus. Because how could she ever contain and not talk about the Love that she has for the lover of her soul?


Happy Birthday, Mom. You are missed, you are treasured and I take joy today in remembering you.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

When the Smoke Fades




I know it is just a bit of break, but today in Minnesota, we could see the sun. The blue sky and the clouds look prettier than ever before. I know that it won't last, but the beauty was welcomed today.

Minnesota is experiencing thick smoke and severe air quality alerts daily due to the epic amount of fires near the Canadian border. For days, we have left our car windows closed and prayed we could get enough fresh air in our homes. We cough the second we go outside and know that our clothing can not be worn again without washing it first because of the strong smokey smell. 

Sometime after midnight tonight, another wave of extreme smoke will arrive and drive us indoors until late Tuesday, possibly Wednesday. We made the most of today know that Wednesday of this week will be the soonest extended outdoor activity is deemed as safe for those with asthma and allergy issues. 

This evening after dinner and a few rounds of cards, Zach, Josh, Murray and I headed out for a walk. I didn't think I would be able to go the full circle since I have been nursing a bad ankle and knee. But I found that stretching my limbs out was exactly what I needed to feel better. 

And it wasn't just my knee and ankle that felt better, my heart seemed mended a bit more also. To see my son walk Murray with Josh's direction and encouragement is something I could watch all day. Josh is so patient and kind and uses constant affirmation and reminders to help Zach as he is learning how to keep Murray walking and responsive the whole way. I allowed myself to fall back and watch my three boys enjoying an evening walk on a beautiful 80 degree day. 

When the smoke fades a bit, I see it all so clearly. Some days are challenging, some a bit easier like today. And the days that are challenging, I will remember this evening and savor it. I will remember that not all days are good days, but there is always something good that can be found in each day. 

Today, the goodness is treasured. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Miserable Cows and Disgruntled Pelicans

    


    


My children have decided to make it as difficult for me as possible each and every day. Well, not really.  But they complain about everything. And I mean everything. They start in just as their eyes open when sunlight enters their bedrooms, and sometimes they do not cease complaining until sleep overtakes them each night. At this point in the summer, I firmly believe that they may master a way of complaining while they actually sleep if possible. The sun, the heat, the bugs, chores, being told no, chores again, the heat, mom having to go to work, not being able to entertain themselves, the list goes on and on. You would think that with a summer curriculum and suggested reading, a swimming pool, bikes and scooters, chores and media time, that their days would be so compressed and full, that they would simply run out time and the ability to complain. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

    Most of their complaints can be easily solved.  Get out of the sun, remember deodorant, bring a water bottle.  Or - go in the house, grab the bug spray, go for a swim.  Here is a popsicle, I am making your favorite dinner, here are your clean clothes. I feel like these are the things that easily solve my every day woes.  I am overheated and need to get out of the sun. I make a habit of wearing deodorant daily as to remain as comfortable as possible in the heat. I always pack a water bottle, if not two. When I am too warm, I go back inside to the air conditioning. When the bugs are retched, I locate the bug spray. When the heat threatens to overtake me or I need to relax, the pool will always call my name.  When I need a little sugar boost in the late afternoon sun, a popsicle puts a smile on my face. An excellent dinner that fills my stomach and clean clothes for the next day so I can do it all again.  These are the easy problems to solve in the heat of the summer. Why can't my children problem solve and remedy their own woes? Why must they perpetually complain and then also make it my issue? 

    It took me awhile to figure out why this bothers me so much. My children voice all of their complaints. Everything from an underwear problem to a grudge held far too long. I, as an adult, as a mom and wife, have a tendency to figure out a way to solve my own problems. And sometimes, I just bottle them up. I push them down, ignore them, stew over them, and even reach for them when I want to make sure that  other people know even if I feel mildly inconvenienced. 

    My mother always quoted from Philippians 2:14- "Do everything without complaining or grumbling." I frequently find myself reciting this verse to my children in the throes of a complaint laden day. Yes, they know it is from the bible, but the eye rolling still commences. 

    I also have asked them to stop being miserable cows and disgruntled pelicans. They already believe me to be on the ridiculous side, these comments cement that idea in their minds. 

    When I feel complaints arising within, I often remind myself of my mother's beloved verse. But it isn't my favorite. It reminds me that there is no place for my complaining and grumbling. That I need to figure out what the root issue is, deal with it, or solve the problem at hand. Stewing and throwing around scenarios in my brain over and over again only drag me down. The heft and the weight of the complaint or grievance only affect me. I can't hold on to what hurts me, what ails me, or what plagues my memory. I can't use my upset as an excuse to treat other people poorly and lash out at them. Even when my complaints and grumblings of the heart are because of things so much bigger than heat and sun and hunger, I still owe my children, my husband, and even myself more than choosing to continue to complain.  

    It is daily for me. Daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. But the joy that I ultimately feel when make the choice to not complain, is indescribable. This choice is what changes my day and even the trajectory of my life. When there is upset and hurt and my heart seems to be a mess of broken pieces and busted edges, God is always the one that hears my prayers. He bends low to hear when I can not voice the prayers that so desperately need to be spoken.  

    It really isn't as confusing as I think it is - the why my children complain. They complain because they have yet to realize that usually what they need or desire has already been provided for them. The how, the what, the information to solve their own problems. But that takes time and maturity. And until then, I will continue to remind them of what they need to do so that the minor issues of life do not seem so big each and every time they feel assailed.  And sometimes, I will just hand them a second popsicle, pull them in close and love them until things don't seem so out of control and complaint worthy.  

    No wonder my kids struggle each and every day. They are my children and they are human. Trying to solve it all on their own. I will remind them that prayer should always be the first choice. Because complaining is futile. 





Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Tired Muscles and Tanned Faces

Finally, the kids have both finished school for the summer.

Zach has graduated from High School, and is excited for

summer school to start in a few weeks and Lily is relishing

the summer ahead of fun including Valley Fair, JAM Camp

and spending time with her friends. I always look forward to

summer, not only because of the warm weather and the ability

to swim every day, but because everything slows down a bit.

No longer concerned about getting up at the crack of dawn

each day to get the kids off to school and get ready for work,

I am able to rest a bit each morning, actually savor a cup of

hot coffee and put together a day that everyone will enjoy. I

am able to decrease my summer hours spent with clients

and focus more on having fun.

  

  We recently finished a bunch of home repairs and updates

including painting 1/2 of our walls, garage doors, garage trim

and shutters. We will be patient until next month and then possibly

replace the carpet on our main floor and then paint 3 of the 4

bedrooms. Later this summer, our backyard fence will be installed 

and modifications made to enable a suite creation for Zach for his

long term at home living needs. Still quite a bit to be done, but we

are thrilled to have a peaceful month or so with nothing to focus on

in our home. (We have lived here almost 19 years and these updates

are needed!)


  Both of our kids work on a summer curriculum that is only meant

to keep their minds working during the summer months. Not hours

a day, and they are both usually done in about an hour to an hour

an half. Zach's focus is usually everyday math skills and vocabulary

and Lily's is reading comprehension and math. Sure they complain

sometimes about doing work in the summer, but then there are the

days where a new concept is grasped or a conversation about a

heavy and important subject matter takes place because of the

reading that was accomplished that day. When I see my daughter's

eyes light up after having an edifying conversation and realizing she

did understand a text and is ready to write about it and put into her

own words. Those are the times I know it is worth it.

  

  But how do we spend most of our days? We walk and swim and

enjoy popsicles on the deck. We explore new trails, find new thrift

shops and tackle home projects that are long overdue. We travel to

meet friends and family and relax lakeside until the mosquitoes

drive us indoors. We enjoy s'mores from the bonfire, tending to

vegetable and flower gardens, and playing fetch with our

beloved dog, Murray. We drive ridiculous distances to try new

restaurants and pack up the golf clubs to head to the driving

range. But mostly, we enjoy being home. The pool and the deck

have become an extension of our home and we are grateful to

be able to take advantage of them.


  The part of summer that I enjoy most is spending time with friends

and family. During Covid-19, I felt as if there was a permeating sense

of loss. Loss of close friendships, the ability to see and spend time with

family and friends and go to all the places and do all the things that we

usually do during the summer months. I missed seeing people's faces

and hugging them heart to heart. This summer has already shown me

that there is so much hope on the horizon. Plans to spend time with

treasured friends. And sometimes, those plans really don't include

anything at all. Just the idea that time has been set aside to enjoy

each other's company and catch up face-to-face, thrills my heart.

Sharing a meal of delicious foods and beverages and laughing

together is something that I will never take for granted again. And

to see my children enjoying the company of their peers and acting

like children, fills this mom's heart. 


  Yes, we will all travel a bit this summer. But most of the time, you

can find us here at home or spending time with friends in the local

community. Doing the things we love. The things we have missed

doing. The things that we enjoy as a family. I pray that each of you

reading this, finds something to do this summer that you maybe

haven't done in awhile. A trek up a mountain that was once too

steep to climb. The exploration of an abandoned but never forgotten

property. Early morning fishing with grandchildren and being able to

teach each young child how to bait a hook. Rediscovering your love

of poolside reading. May we all sleep well with tired muscles and

tanned faces at the end of each summer day.



Graduation 2021


When a senior graduates from high school, conversations and congratulations occur about the awards they have won, the teams they have played on, and the scholarships that have been granted for higher education. Excited by a bright future, parents, family and friends congratulate and celebrate all that is to come. Friends circle the wagons and enjoy their last days together before a summer of jobs and planning and eventually moving on to adulthood occurs.  

But what about the students that have just barely crossed the finish line? And the students that have struggled and toiled and felt it might not happen? The students that won't be getting a job or moving on to college or additional higher education? Those graduates also deserve all of the encouragement, kindness and well wishes. 

Our 18 year old son Zach has Autism. He is graduating this week from the Autism In Motion program at his high school in Minnesota. Zach can speak, have his needs met and adores school. However, he will never drive a car, hold a typical job, go to college or marry. Zach is funny and silly, has an infectious smile, loves heart to heart hugs, his dog Murray and his family and friends.  He also loves the idea of graduating. 

Zach will continue this fall in the STAR Program for the next three years. The program focuses on job skills, on the job training, personal care, kitchen skills, social skills, communication skills, money math skills and community interactions. Zach is so excited to know that two of his graduating classmates will be seen everyday. He is sad to leave his teachers and helpers and younger friends at his school, but states, "I am getting so old", and finds graduating pretty amazing.

Zach will continue living with us as for long as possible. We are in the process of modifying our home to create a large suite for him where he can spread out and continue to grow and explore new hobbies. He is a fantastic artist and needs additional room for art supplies and paper storage and artistic creation displays. This summer, he is looking forward to playing with his dog, traveling to meet friends at Lake of the Ozarks and going to Madden's Resort to play some golf in August. He is excited to swim and go to the driving range and spend a weekend at Grandma's cabin. His summer is well planned and much anticipated. 

As his parents, we won't be preparing to pack him up and say goodbye as summer comes to a close, but we will be in full on summer fun mode. Seeking out new trails and beaches, discovering new coffee shops, running after ice cream trucks, and finding ways to stay cool in the sun as the pool beckons us numerous times each day. We will take all the small things that produce much joy and savor each moment.

Surround those kids that have IEP's. Love on the graduates who will start working full-time to help support their families. And always be at the ready to provide an encouraging word for the one that will tackle adulthood full on starting the day after they graduate. 

Congratulations to the High School Graduating Class of 2021! You have done well, and I as a parent, a friend and an advocate are so very proud of all that you have accomplished.  Well done. Well done. Well done. 




 

There Is Hope

 On October 29th, shortly after 9 p.m., I had a freak accident in my home. Slipping on water as I entered the bathroom, my leg folded undern...