Saturday, March 25, 2006

Listen for the Geese

This morning I awoke to hear a flock of geese overhead. I hear them all the time now since the storm. I wonder if they were always here, and I just never noticed, or if they came in after Katrina blew in. I don't really know which is true, but I do know that I am grateful I can hear them now. The girls and I like to listen to them flying over. They call to each other for encouragement as they fly... I have heard an interesting story about geese, but I won't attempt to retell it. This website does a much better job.
Still, knowing the story about how geese fly in formation and how they call to each other always makes me pause for a moment and realize that God is offering me the same help and encouragement if I only listen.

Speaking of great encouragers, my friend, Lib, moved to Atlanta only two months before Katrina hit. Talk about your survivors guilt! She really had a rough time after the storm. She called me all the time just to touch base and be supportive. Still, in some ways, emotionally, I felt worse for her than I did for myself. We were in the midst of cleaning up and doing whatever thing presented itself next. Lib could do nothing but worry about (and pray for) her friends and loved ones and watch horrific stories on the news. I believe she honestly felt a sense of guilt for not being here with us. She is constantly trying to get my husband and I to come up for a little break, just for nurturing and support. And, I promise that one of these weekends, I am going to do just that... How could I pass up Lib AND the IKEA store all in one fabulous place?

Everything about the hurricane has made me accutely aware of God's personal intervention and caring in our lives when we look to Divine Guidance. Lib is the wife of a minister. Her husband, Chuck, moved to Atlanta to minister within a much larger congregation. After the storm, Chuck and several other ministers and friends came down to help support people on the Gulf Coast. They helped with rebuilding efforts, just as other faith-based groups have since the storm. Lib never told me this, but I have heard through others in our small community that Chuck's new church helped financially support the Pascagoula Church that was severely damaged. When I heard this, I knew that God had orchestrated help and protection for the Pascagoula Church in a way that seemed less than desirable to many people when they announced they were moving to Atlanta. We were all thinking about ourselves... About how much we would miss them. Chuck and Lib both touched so many in our community. But, when I put my own feelings aside about missing my dear friend, I can so clearly see that the move was exactly what needed to happen for God to work through them to help us and uplift us in a way that we so desperately needed after Katrina.

The thing that I love most about Lib is her sense of humor and storytelling. Lib loves to garden, and I promise you never knew gardening could be humorous until you have listened to Lib spin a tale about it. She heard from someone that all of the azaleas had been destroyed in the storm. So, the pictures above are for Lib. My yard was more beautiful than ever this year. Seeing my yard in full bloom was another little reminder that God is present, bringing hope and resurrection to all of us.

A little news about the girls... Sarah was hospitalized on March 1st and placed on I.V. antibiotics again. We came home after 3 days in the hospital and finished the I.V. course at home. Danielle was also showing signs of infection, but she was treated with oral antibiotics that have helped restore her good health. And, both girls are doing beautfully since I have thrown them out of the house! Sarah's line had only been out for two days when she began complaining of back pain again. The girls have not been present when the walls are being sanded, but we are sleeping upstairs, so they would come back in after the sanding was finished for the day. The residual dust had to be the irritant that made them sick. Fortunately, mom and J.R. live next door and their house is almost complete. Their walls have been finished for a long time and they even have furniture. So, the girls have taken up residence with them until we finish the walls and clean all the dust out of the house. Neither one of them really like being banned from the house and I don't exactly like having to shuttle things back and forth across the yard, but we do what we have to do. They are handling the displacement relatively well. I'm sure, in many ways, Mimi's house is just as good, or better, than home.

Danielle is going with Mimi and Papa (Mom and J.R.) to Italy on May 29th. That has been another blessing that Hurricane Katrina brought. When Dan was living with her dad in Birmingham, she went to school up there. Her history class began planning a trip to Italy over the summer. We asked if she could participate even though she would not be finishing out the year there. Mr. Stack, her teacher, was thrilled to have her participating. He has even conducted fundraisers on her behalf to help defray the cost of the trip. So, we are so excited about the opportunity for Dan to travel abroad. Dr. Sindel, the CF doc, recommends doing a voluntary I.V. antibiotics tune-up before she leaves. So, our next visit to CF clinic will be in preparation for being out of the country. It is so exciting!

Sarah also mentioned off-handedly that she wanted to go to Jamaica. Well, after pausing to reflect, Dave and I thought, "You know? Vacation in a tropical paradise doesn't sound like a crazy idea right now." So, we are looking into going to one of the U.S. Virgin Islands this summer, too. Summertime is considered "off season" so the cost isn't so prohibitive. Sarah and I have had great fun searching the web for pictures and looking at the absolutely magnificent villas that are available.

We were so blessed this week to have friends from Unity Village and places beyond, visiting with us. We attended church on Wednesday and were served dinner after being led in a wonderful Yoga class. The girls and I enjoyed it immensely. Our church friends also helped some more with the sanding and we are now a little closer to completion. Every bit of help, every bit of love has brought us a little closer to restoring our home. Most of our help has been through faith-based organizations. Perhaps there is a message in that as well. According to our faith, it is done unto us. The wonderful thing about this faith in action is that it hasn't come with denominations or dogmatic pronouncements, it has come with simple love. Brothers and sisters helping and loving one another... We are truly blessed to be in the midst of such a miracle.

I have certainly prattled on enough. For this week, I hope that you hear the geese honking and watch the azaleas bloom. I hope that you experience, as I have, the spirit of Christ in action in your life. ~Namaste~

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rubber Bands

Rubber bands are generally very flexible. Last week, I watched a 5th grade student at school testing the limits of rubber band flexibility. He was supposed to be paying attention the lesson, but was far more engrossed in the laws of physics. I felt he was about to learn a very valuable lesson, and I should really not interfere. Sometimes, experience is a far superior teacher than simple verbal correction. He began by stretching it out between his fingers. He continued to test its limits by twisting it and pulling it further and further apart. The band seemed to stretch beyond a reasonable capacity. Then this fine young scientist placed one end of the rubber band between his teeth and hooked the other on his index finger. Of course, the end result was that the band broke and snapped him squarely in the lower lip. He rubbed his lip, tucked the offending stretchy object in his pants pocket and went back to attending to the math lesson.

I had a similar experience last week. Sunday's lesson at church was about Lent. We discussed not just giving up chocolate, or overeating, or smoking, but giving up something truly harmful to our spiritual growth and development. I committed to giving up negative speech for forty days to prepare for the Easter celebration and rebirth of a new Christ consciousness. Feeling very lofty and inspired, I left church to return home, work on the house and prepare to embark on this wonderful journey. That evening, Sarah began experiencing pain in her back on the right lower side. She also began running a fever. I gave her some Tylenol, reassured her that it was going to be fine, and led her in a meditation to help her relax and fall asleep. Mind you, at this point, I was still lofty and spiritual.

Monday morning rolled around and Sarah arose with a fever of 102 degrees and complaints of more back pain. She took her regular does of Motrin and we went to school. My principal is very understanding about Sarah's condition and understands that she isn't contagious to the other children. I was thinking of Jesus' command of: "Take up your bed and walk". We usually just keep on keepin' on until it is obvious that more serious intervention is necessary. Still, I called Dr. Sindel's office as soon as they opened to see if they could squeeze her into CF clinic that day. I spoke to Nurse Karen and she said that they couldn't see her, but I should take her to the emergency room. This was precisely NOT what I wanted to hear. Sarah and I stayed at school until 2:00 p.m. when she came to me crying of back pain. We left and went home. I gave her some more Tylenol and she did her treatments, which helped ease the pain somewhat. The decision was made to make it through the night, but her fever came back every time the Tylenol wore off. Fear and worry began to creep in.

Fat Tuesday came and I certainly did not relish the idea of going to Mobile to the hospital during all the Mardi Gras craziness. (Mardi Gras is a topic for a blog all its own. Perhaps I will write it one day. Better yet, Sarah and Dan's grandmother, Maxine, should write it. Hearing her talk about it, having moved down here from Maine is hysterical.) All day, we gave Sarah Tylenol and prayed that she would make a turn around. She did all of her regular meds, and since she was already on TOBI, I just prayed that somehow, God's healing power would kick in for her providing a much needed miracle. We meditated again to help her sleep. Periodically all day, she complained of back pain. That night, she awoke in the middle of the night and threw up (mostly mucus). She was running fever and crying with pain in her back and chest. Resigned, I knew what the next step had to be.

Thus, Wednesday morning, I took her to the emergency room in Mobile. They admitted her and called her doctor, who wisely chastised me for having waited the extra time. We entered the hospital on Ash Wednesday. Sarah's mid-line was placed on Thursday and after her fever subsided, she was discharged on Friday. She is now on a 14 day course of I.V. meds at home. We go for a follow-up appointment tomorrow.

So, here I sit with all of this and my committment to speak positively. Hospitalization doesn't feel "positive" to me. My child having pneumonia and having to have a catheter placed in her arm for the administration of I.V meds doesn't feel positive to me. I want that Biblical type of healing that Jesus performed. The woman touched the hem of Jesus' robe and he said, "Go on with your bad self. You are made whole." (I'm paraphrasing, of course, since I am not much of a scripture quoter.) And, then, the time with Lazarus... I mean, he was actually dead. His family was crying. Jesus went in, healed him and out of the tomb he walked. I have always been interested in what Lazarus went on to do after he was brought back. I wonder if anyone knows... Still, that too, is a topic for another blog. At any rate, you get my point. I want a burning bush, hand on head, annointing with the oil, honest-to-goodness miracle!

So far, our healing doesn't seem to work like that. The healing involves positive, wonderful acts of God working through people that don't seem positive at the time. "Thank you, God, for that mid-line catheter which allows medicine that your children developed to flow through my child's veins restoring her health." These are the words that I need to say. "Thank you, God, for the vest therapy machine and nebulizer treatments that my children to take daily to maintain their health." "Thank you, God, for the oral medications that my children take daily to maintain their health." I'm working on learning to say these words instead of, "Oh no... Not the hospital again." "Oh, I am so tired of having to fight with the girls to get their treatments and take their meds." Who knows? Maybe if I change my words to reflect the positive, our whole experience will change.

For now, though, I am working with these ideas. I am playing with diligent practice of speaking positively, just like the 5th grader and his rubber band. I can stretch and grow and try to be ready for God's spiritual lessons for me. But, sometimes, I need to remember the limits of the rubber band, lest I get popped. God's healing power works for my children and my family. However, I have learned that it doesn't look like the biblical type of healing. I keep wanting it to. I keep trying to stretch my spiritual rubber band in that direction instead of simply going with God's guidance of the reality of the precious NOW.

The picture is Sarah and her Grammy, Maxine, who doesn't get Mardi Gras. Costumed people throwing beads off the back of pick-up trucks just doesn't resonate with her!