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Friday, July 28, 2006

Moskovnya Vyechera


Moskovnya Vyechera — Moscow Nights
(photo by: Rebecca Higgins)

I just wanted to share something that makes me smile. Hope you find a smile in your day, too!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Who are you...

...and what have you done with my baby sister?!

More "birth pondering"....

Last week changed how I view my sister. I've always appreciated her, loved her, enjoyed her company—I even liked her when she was in middle school! But she was born when I was in my mid-teens, so she's always been "my little sister"...even "my baby sister."

Now? Well, now I find that the week we spent together left me impressed and filled with admiration.

I watched her watch the news. With her husband’s duties placing him in a “hot spot,” she stays informed about the areas of conflict around the world. All the while, she quietly displays peace. trust, and a hopeful outlook. It’s clear that God is in control.

I stayed with her all through labor and delivery. In the most intense moments, the strongest contractions, I watched her personify Proverbs 31:26 :
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.”
Even in labor, she THOUGHT before she spoke!

I’ve watched her live with extended family for several months. Now, I see her planning to have a home ready to greet her husband when he returns from his assignment. I admire her juggling act—”well baby” checkups, legal documents, diaper changes, and Sesame Street. I see her patiently, lovingly doing the single parenting of a military wife—for a toddler and a newborn!

This is no mere “baby sister!” This is a strong, confident, competent woman!

I guess she didn't really make some recent, dramatic change. It's just that my image of her has been kinda stuck. In reality, she grew up a long time ago. Last week, my perception of her did, too. Now, she's not just the sister and friend she's always been — she’s my peer (possibly even my superior)!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Hand of God

Yesterday, a friend was writing on her blog about teaching her puppies how to submit. You do this by making the puppy lie down on his back with your hand on his belly. You hold him there until he relaxes and stops struggling. Teaching him to submit like this makes him a happier, healthier, more useful dog.

Hmmm....

I was just noticing that today my diagnosis of Parkinson’s is making me feel slightly claustrophobic. It’s as if today I can feel my world slowly, almost imperceptibly, closing in on me. I’ve already got people trying to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing, regardless of what my doctor says!

We tend to talk about “the hand of God” as if it were always a pleasant experience.
“God really has His hand on that young man.”
“You can certainly see God’s hand on her ministry.”

I’m not sure Job would agree.
"Even today my complaint is bitter; His hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.” -- Job 23:2
In the lives of believers, isn’t God’s hand just as certainly on the young man with cancer, or the woman whose attempts at ministry are blocked at every turn? Can’t we see God’s sovereign hand in the things we consider bad news, as well as things we enjoy?

So here I am, trying to learn to be still under the hand of God. Reminding myself that wondering how long this is gonna take, thinking about what I’ll do when I can get up--that isn’t submission. I just need to be still and trust, even when the walls seem to be closing in.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah (stop and ponder that)

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

8 Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations He has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
He burns the shields with fire.
10 "BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

Thanks, I needed that!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pondering....


Well, I’m back home....

Just as I expected, childbirth leaves me with a lot to process. Of course, I’ve experienced giving birth before--four times! Somehow, though, there’s something different about witnessing a life beginning. I’ve discovered a whole new set of facets to ponder.

For starters, I think I begin to understand what it is about his wife giving birth that so often reduces a husband to tears. Someone who you’d give your life for is crying for help and there’s nothing--NOTHING--you can do to help her! Oh, sure, you can rub her back, coach her breathing, murmur encouragement. But as far as anything to rescue her, to make it stop--there’s nothing you can REALLY do!

Then suddenly, there are two people you’d die for in the room with you, and they’re BOTH crying, and you’re crying...and it’s WONDERFUL!

I’m still pondering....

Friday, July 21, 2006

She's Arrived!


I'm an aunt (again)! Emily Grace was born on the evening of July 18. I've had four babies of my own, but there is NOTHING like being there to witness a birth! Wow! What a mixture of emotions! It's all a very clear memory and yet a blur at the same time! Again, WOW!

God is good...a safe, relatively easy labor (Anyone who's experienced childbirth knows that "easy" is a relative term!) My energy level and tremors were both reasonable. Of course, now that all my adrenalin has worn off.... (I took a nap this afternoon.)

Emily with Heather, the doula


Gotta go--I'll probably write more later. Right now, birth is one of those things that needs to be processed.

Thanks for your prayers!

"But [she] treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." - Luke 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Happy Birthday...Tomorrow?

Well, we (Caleb and I) got here about 4pm yesterday. Tired, tired, tired! But I had a good sleep last night, as well as nice naps yesterday and today, so I'm feeling more energized.

Just a few things to do, then I'll feel ready to go...like I'm the one who has to be ready!

We had a safe, uneventful trip here, so that's one prayer request answered. Here's a reminder of the others.

1. Safe, easy birth
2. Good (energetic and non-shaky) days for me
3. No medicine complications as I up the dosage again Monday

I was thinking about each of my four kids' births. Now those were WIDELY varied experiences! As I was thinking about how those times have uniquely prepared me to "be there" for my sister, it reminded me of some verses that helps to explain why God allows tough times in our lives....

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
1 Corinthians 1:3-4

Well, gotta go--still stuff to do!

Thanks for your prayers...especially tomorrow!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Road Trip!

Well, I'm off!

Monday morning, bright and early, I assume my role as "birthing buddy" for my baby sister! Her husband is stationed out of the country, so I'm "filling in." It just struck me today that part of my role will be as the family historian. (Somebody's gotta remember all the details!)

So, tomorrow morning I head out! Am I excited? Ummmm...YEAH!

I'll post when I can. Who knows, this may be the motivation I need to learn to post photos on here!

First birds, now volcanos....

My sister sent me a note today, referring to the movie "Joe vs the Volcano." It's a favorite of both of us, and she was referring to a couple quotes that could apply to my situation.

I got thinking about the movie and remembered one of my favorite lines. It takes place after Joe has survived a typhoon, a shipwreck, and a day adrift at sea in the unrelenting sun. As the moon rises, Joe prays. He's very weakened, still adrift, and has no clue what the next day will hold. His prayer? "O God, whose name I do not know, thank you for my life!"

The only thing cooler than that is the prayer I have the privilege of praying:

"O God, whose name I DO know, thank you for my life!"

"Theme of the Week"

Well, apparently the theme of the week is "Birds."

This morning, Caleb was looking out the window when a bird slammed into the glass! It sort of "staggered back" in the air, gathered its wits, and flew away. When he told me, he hadn't heard my hummingbird story yet. Hmmmm....

After I thought about it for a while, I realized the bird that hit the window has a lesson for me. I was flying along, busy with life, enjoying my surroundings. All of a sudden, I ran into something I hadn't seen coming and I couldn't fly around. I was stunned, and staggered back, unsure of what to do. Now the time has come to gather my wits and start flying again...in a new direction. And that's the Lesson of the Bird and the Window.

The Lesson of the Hummingbird? My dad says it's that I'm easily mistaken for a flower!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Too Cool!

I just had a hummingbird fly up and look at me through my (second floor) office window! I had to share! Face-to-face, less than three feet apart, separated by only a pane of glass! How cool is that?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another Bite of Elephant

Looking back, I think I was afraid of starting an “official Parkinson’s medicine.” Part of the fear was a fear of side effects. I’m a voracious reader, so I always read the side effects on the pharmacy literature. YIKES! (But, have you seen the side effects lists for Advil or Benadryl?!)

I think my greater fear, though, was a fear of being “locked in.” The medicine they wanted to put me on is one of those that you can’t just quit. It takes weeks to ease into a full dose, and weeks to wean back off. If something were to change (divine healing or discovery of misdiagnosis) you can’t just quit the medicine. I believe I was afraid of limiting God by “accepting” the diagnosis of Parkinson’s and starting treatment.

I’m learning, though, that accepting is not the same thing as giving up. God is sovereign--I can’t limit Him by accepting the circumstances He allows in my life. I can, however, limit the ways He can use me by denying what’s going on with me. If I deny the problems I’m facing, how can my experience be a witness to God’s grace at work in me?

I have Parkinson’s -- Parkinson’s doesn’t have ME!! GOD has me! Regardless of my circumstance, He still holds me in the palm of His hand. To some people, the difference in phrasing may seem like mere semantics, but hey--I’m a semantics kinda girl!

I’m learning that I’m still me--just with the addition of Parkinson’s. I still feel things strongly. I still cry when I’m sad...and when I’m happy...and when I “get blessed!” I still have the same weird sense of humor--sometimes to the annoyance of my family!

I sometimes struggle now with fear when I try to picture my future. Barring a miraculous healing or a medical breakthrough, I doubt that my future will match Deuteronomy 34:7. But you know, for years I’ve walked around saying that a crisis doesn’t make us more dependent on God--it just makes us more aware of how dependent we’ve been on Him all along! Once again, God’s given me the chance to “put my money where my mouth is!”

So I've started the medicine -- Mirapex. It seems to be helping a little already.

"Another bite of elephant? Why, yes, thank you...." (munch, munch, munch....)

All the Way My Savior Leads Me
(by Fanny Crosby - a blind hymn writer)

All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Eating an Elephant

Several people figured out that in my last post, I was referring to the old, corny joke....

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time!

--------------

Here's a variation....

Q: How do you deal with "unfixable" bad news?

A: One bite at a time!

------------------

Three months ago, I got that kind of “unfixable” news. On April 6, 2006 (that date is branded in my memory), I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. My first comment was, “This isn’t how I was planning on living the rest of my life!”

My grandpa who “died young” was 87 when he died. My two grandmas were 90 and 95. My other grandpa was 100! All of them were relatively healthy and energetic until the last few years. I had great-grandparents who lived into their 80s and 90s. My parents are in their seventies and still going strong (helping keep up with my toddler niece). My image of my “senior years” was based on Deuteronomy 34:7, “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” I figured that with my genetic heritage and the advances in medicine, reaching 120 would be a breeze!

From the beginning of this Parkinson’s journey, I’ve been determined that whatever happened, my goal was the glory of God--whether I live 50 years with Parkinson’s or I wake up healed tomorrow morning. Although that hasn’t changed, I’ve recently realized that something else has.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I wasn’t acknowledging the diagnosis or the condition as “mine”. I used words like “they’ve diagnosed me with Parkinson’s,” “the Parkinson’s,” “the symptoms.” Without realizing it, I was very careful not to say things like “I have Parkinson’s,” “my Parkinson’s,” my symptoms.”

I found myself pondering the possibility of a misdiagnosis. Never mind that I was diagnosed at Mayo Clinic, by some of the best in the field. Forget the friends in the medical field who agreed that the diagnosis made sense. Ignore the fact that the diagnosis made me feel as if I finally had all the puzzle pieces in place. I clung to the slim chance that I’d been misdiagnosed.

(...to be continued...)