Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Processing it all.

Every year I write a Christmas letter. Maybe I should consider penning one for Easter. So much has happened since I put up the ornaments and took down the tree. It has not been a great 3 months in many ways. But still, I see God's hand upon my family in an amazing way. And I am thankful. My body is reacting to the stress and I am glad to take a few days to process things. I have learned/am learning about priorites. The things that I have are just things. I don't need them. Getting my hair cut the other day my beautician asked what I wanted to do. "Just cut it. Any way you want as long as I can pull it back." These things just don't matter.
One year ago Easter I was in Haiti for my first time. I loved it. My daughters Gretchen and Gwenn were with me. I saw such incredible poverty but loved Jacmel and it's people. Those people are suffering. Gwenn and her family and the other missionaries and the children of the orphanage have lost so much. That's important. Not my haircut.
We could have lost my daughter Gretchen this past week. Watching her hooked up to a breathing machine and knowing I could loose her. That's important. As we cared for her newborn and her other 3 children I thought of how much I depended on her. I found myself with questions during the week and thought "I'll call Gretchen, she will know..Oh.I can't."
I always knew but now know more that family is so very imortant. And family isn't always what what the word describs in the dictionary. So many have risen to the occasion first after the earthquake and again with Gretchen's illness.
So while my body and my mind ache and sleep calls to me even though I napped long today, I am thankful. Hoping that there will be no more major events for my 2010 Christmas card and praying for sustained health for Gretchen and for the 'stuff' it will take to recreate Haiti.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Needing to sleep off this hangover...

Nine days ago my life went into a tailspin. Being called to action I went into stress mode, meaning "no time to cry, too much to do" and that is how it has gone for these nine long days. Oh, I did cry , a tear here a sob there but..mostly I had to hold it. I feel now like I am waking up after a long drunk..not that I would know what that feels like but I can imagine. I am so tired. And so thankful.
When Jon called to say he was taking Gretchen to the hospital I was very concerned. When I heard they would medivac her to Norfolk..well, I was scared. Gretchen is one tough girl. Don't often get to see her cry. Watching her pant for breath and realizing that this was really serious was compounded by a doctor who said (in front of her) "Well, it could be we give her diuretics and she will be fine in a few days, or worst case we are looking at a heart transplant. This before she left The Outer Banks hospital and before the first test was run. Remind me later about the letter the hospital will be receiving about this doctor.
Watching the helicopter take off and strapping my 8 day old baby in the car seat for the trip to Norfolk with Jon are all surreal memories at this time. I had run back home to retrieve the one bag of stored breast milk and wondered what we would do to fed baby Johanna after that ran out.
I can't remember arriving at Norfolk Sentura..yes I do..kinda..
I stayed with the baby in the waiting room and hauled her in the car seat with a big diaper bag and my purse around looking for a baby changing station. Then looking for a way to heat up her bottle. (She had never had one before..) Jon stayed with Gretchen and it was determined it was not her heart. (ok..no transplant ..good..) Not a blood clot..good. But she continued to get worse. I lugged the baby and all the baby gack up to the 6th floor where I was told we could get a room. I could get a room, the baby could not. So I continued to lug the baby and gack around and tried to get some formula for her. Sorry, no free samples without a doctor's orders. Somewhere in here my pastor shows up. And Jim. Cause no matter what, Jim always shows up. For every serious, scary, sad or happy event Jim is there. Pastor somehow gets us set up in the ICU waiting room which is much better than the ER waiting room.And there we wait. Jon manages to get formula where I could not and they give him diapers as well.Steve picks up the baby and me and we head back home leaving my daughter in the hands of her husband, the doctors and Harold-my angel whom I have asked to stay with her. I am aware that this is a part of a very real spiritual attack that my family has been under. I know who fights our battle for us but none the less I am frightened.
Now like when you drink to much alchol the details get fuzzy and even now I wonder what have I done for the last nine days? Did I really watch my daughter cling to life then see a machine breath for her when she could not? Did I spend the last nine nights with the middle of the night feedings and rocking a tiny baby who didn't think it best to sleep? Did I soften the truth for my grandchildren so that they would be less afraid? Did I stay up late talking with my other daughter about her life in Haiti during and after the earthquake. Did I watch my youngest daughter step in so completely and loving to nurture her sister's baby?
Now, as I sit in my chair, in my home, in the quiet of this night it is so hard to believe that as quickly this trial arrived and now it is leaving. Gretchen now home with her baby and children. Weak but still strong willed and with an even stronger faith. My room is still spinning and I think I will need to put one foot on the floor to make it stop. And during this emotional binge I have had so many people willing to drive when I could not. Praying when I was too weak for too busy. Encouraging. Loving my daugther and my family. Pulling us through to the other side. So now..now I will sleep it off. Hoping never again to go back to this last nine days but to move forward better for what I have known. The hangover is real. But I am encouraged that it will be short lived.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gretchen's Dreams

She was just over two years old. I was a brand new Christian. This is how God used two year old Gretchen to change my life. This is how 32 years later He used her dreams to touch the hearts of her own children.
Gretchen was a talker. I think from birth. I remember when they placed her in my arms she did not cry but opened her eyes wide to look, really look into mine. Much the same way her 12 day old Johanna does with me now. I remember thinking "This is a very smart baby." I was right. No joke. One of the smartest I know. But I digress.
When Gretchen was just over two years old she started to have these nightmares. She normally slept thought the night in her toddler bed in her room some 20 ft. down the hall from where her daddy and I slept. One night I heard a blood curdling scream coming from her room. Not a whimper or a cry but an honest to goodness scream. I rushed to her bedside and tried to calm her down. As she did she unraveled her nightmare to me. She was in the large box elder tree in our backyard in a cube (?). There was a large black dog that was trying to jump up and get her. He was a bad dog with big teeth. I finally was able to get her back to sleep.
The following night was a repeat of the first. Same dog. Same dream. Then another repeat on night 3. On night four I tucked Gretchen into bed and mustering up my new found faith in Jesus I prayed "Jesus please don't let Gretchen have a 'cube dream' tonight." The night was peaceful. No nightmares. I thought "This Jesus thing works!"
It was about 3 AM on night 5 and I felt a tiny hand touch my shoulder. My pretty little blond toddler (what?? you thought that red hair was real??) leaned over and whispered to me "Mommy, I had a cube dream." My initial reaction was "oh no." It did not occur to me that there had been no scream this time until Gretchen said "No mommy, it's OK. Tonight Jesus was in the 'cube' with me. He took me down from the tree and let me pet the dog." My view of Jesus grew radically that night and I would have to say that it became a foundation of my faith. I learned that sometimes Jesus can remove the thing that is haunting you and sometimes he will allow you to confront your nightmare with Him at your side. "True love casts out fear." (btw..did you know that Jesus looks like Mr. Rogers? how cool is that??)
When Gretchen fell critically ill last Sat. it became my charge and my honor to oversee the care of her newborn baby Johanna and Katie 8, Micah 6 and Abbie 5.
Abbie has been the quickest to express grief over her parents absence. Crying several times during the day "I miss my mommy." Katie has taken over the mother's helper role often holding baby Johanna and feeding her a bottle. Micah has been stony with his emotions.
Tonight as I tucked Gretchen's children into bed I spend extra time with them just to connect.Abbie was once again began to cry "I miss my mommy!" But this time she added "I'm scared something bad is going to happen to her." At this point I looked over to see Micah's shoulders rising and falling as he wept silently under his blankets. I called him over and held him close. And then I remembered his mother's 'cube' dream some 32 years ago. I was able to share this story with them.Not denying their fear, but acknowledge that we have fears but we also have someone who will come into the 'cube' with us and help us first to face the fear and finally to conquer it.
I know the children will continue to miss Gretchen and even to be afraid at times. But I thank God for my 2 year old's nightmares that could speak trust and comfort to her own loved children.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"When my world is shaken, Heaven stands."

The lyrics that follow are from my new favorite songwriter/musician JJ Heller. First with my family experience their literal world shaken and now as my daughter lies in a bed in an ICU ward away from her newborn baby and her other three children we;; the world is shaking.
I know without a doubt there is an enemy of our soul who seeks to shake us to the point where we can not stand. The cool thing is that when we are weak, Heaven still stands. I will not for one minute give in to the lies of discouragement and seeds of doubt that he tries to plant.The fact is that really crappy things sometimes happen. There is another beautiful song by this same artist that i have problem with. (even though i like it very much.) This other song is a lullaby that says "I will keep you safe." I love the iead but the problem I have is that God has not promised to keep s safe. He promised to be with us.Jesus was not safe.Paul was not safe.Peter was not safe. So when I see my daughter's world in Haiti literally shaken I can request that God would keep my family safe but I can't have complete confidence that that will be the case.And when my other daughter lies in a hospital bed I can request that she will be safe. While I know for certain that God hears my prayer. If I claim to be a true Christ follower I must accept from His had that which He chooses for my good and for his purpose. Will I always understand His way? Never.But I know he is faithful and I know that Heaven stands.So as these challenges arise with a daily hunger I can say "Heaven stands."
Your Hands

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Love is Always

She must have been in kindergarden or first grade when we first met. I remember how strange in a good way it was that when I decided to babysit in my home that God brought all of these children into my home who were 'children of divorce'. Having know what that was like myself I felt like this was more of a ministry than a job and I grew very attached to my little charges. Amanda was one of the really special ones. She became my middle daughter's best friend. They did everything together and when they grew weary they would cuddle up, pop a thumb in their mouth, twiddle their hair and rest. Not even one bit of remorse or embarrassment to be their age and still holding on to this childish habit.
Amanda and Gwenn were FUNNY! Really Funny. Over the top and full of life,loud and well..just funny. Amanda would see the UPS man and say "Hide! It's the brown haired cottage kid!" To this day whenever I see a "brown haired cottage kid" I think of Amanda. For years Gwenn and Amanda were inseparable. Then the unthinkable happened! Amanda stayed back in school and Gwenn went on to another grade. I stopped babysitting for Amanda and as space will often do the girls drifted apart. We moved from NJ to NC and had no contact for many years.Then one day I received a note from Amanda. She had found me in a phone book. She wrote to tell me how special the times were at my house. And to tell me she had cancer.
Today Amanda died. I poured through all of my photo albums and laughed and cried.I watched the video I have of her singing (a little off key) a song in our Christmas play. I looked at a Christmas card that I received and the words she signed with jumped off the photo. It said "Love is Always" Amanda. These words had gone unnoticed the year I received the card. These words, the very words I always use in closing my letters and cards.Words that I got from my mother in law when she signed a letter. Not "Love As Always" as so many people sign but "Love IS Always". It was like a message that I needed to hear. I loved Amanda as a child. I love her as an adult. It does not matter that time and space has separated us for many years because "Love is Always". Always goes beyond the death of this beautiful 32 yr. old mother. It goes beyond today and past tomorrow. Love is Always. It is . Always.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm Back!

I downloaded a free counter gadget a few months ago on my blogspot. It never worked but I didn't bother to remove it so it removed me. My blog was high jacked and just tonight I finally figured out how to remove the corupted counter. I hope this problem did not travel to any of my readers!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Haiti is not a Hell hole

Yesterday when I was working at the Post Office a customer come up and inquired about my grandchildren who had been here from Haiti. I told the woman that they had gone back last week. She didn't' think that was such a good idea but I told her "They live in Haiti, they need to be with their parents." To which she replied "Your daughter needs to get out of that hell hole of a country!" I was deeply insulted. I really wanted to get angry but knew that would not resolve anything and I would have wasted that anger on something not even the least bit important. I need to use my anger at the poverty an distruction in Haiti to motivate me to do the works that my God is giving me to bring whatever light I can bring into the darkness of the destruction of Jacmel.
So I set about doing the little that I can do and I thank God that he has called me into a relationship with the beautiful and friendly country of Haiti. Maybe someday that woman will know the truth.I doubt it. I thank God I do.