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 canceled along with so many other activities. As a parent of a special needs young man, the fair cancelation 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 a 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 me for the next few days. We have been working a lot in our home, and have found so many things that 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 during Covid, 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. 


Stand Up Slowly

   In January of 1995, I began working in a bank and I was excited to have my first job as an adult at a local financial institution. Two we...