Little Adventurer

The biggest adventure most two year old’s get is a trip to the zoo.  But most two year old’s don’t have a missing uncle and a grandmother who does search and rescue work.

So my two year old had a big adventure this week, getting to tag along on a short search.  He of course had no idea what they were truly doing, no idea what they were looking for, and thought it simply was a fun walk with women who laughed at his antics (which are many).  

Beyond adventure, what he got was the start of a legacy being handed down.  A legacy of serving others, with nothing in return for yourself.  Serving others, even when no one is looking.  I’m thankful that he gets to witness that in action, and has from his earliest days.

I pray that we show him more than tell him how important serving is, so he can pass that legacy on as well.  It’s what is right, it’s what we’re called to do.  How cool, that he gets to witness it in action from such an early age.

1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Another Year, Another Prayer

The passing of time is bittersweet, with the joy of watching my children grow, but realizing that each day they’re closer to being all grown.  With each passing year I strengthen relationships that have weathered storms, but also realize that more years have passed without connecting with old cherished friends.  We welcome new life, but also realize that the days are dwindling for others we love.

That bittersweet realization came especially true last week as I visited my ailing grandmother, likely seeing her for the last time.  Our family had some time to explore the area, playing in parks I played in as a young child, and seeing family that I love and rarely see.  Visiting those roots, and the passing of another year also makes me think of Austin with bittersweet memories.  His photos are in that home, from him as a baby to the most recent ones we have, and I was reminded that there are people who remember and love him.  That part was sweet, as the only people who seem to remember him are family, and some days feel as the rest of the world doesn’t know he lived.  But another year has passed with no word, no answers, no closer it seems.

This was our fifth Christmas without him, and in some ways it is easier and in some ways harder than the first.  I was thinking on the families going through their first, and likely not sure how they’ll ever get through another if they must.  I remember being them, meeting a family who had been searching for 7 years, and thinking that we couldn’t do that.  But we’re close, and if the years continue on, so will we. But I also know that family we met found answers, as I hope we will. 

But through all of those thoughts, both of loss and of how much we have, I tried to think of how to start the new year.  Last year I decided to begin writing, decided to put my heart on ‘paper’ and share with anyone who would read it.  That was a huge leap for me, as I prefer to share my thoughts, but not really my feelings.  And it has been good, better than I imagined actually.

I heard Rick Warren speak yesterday (via video).  He is the author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ which is the best selling book of all time worldwide, other than the bible.  Wow.  To have that kind of influence and to be used by God in such a way!  He said that the purpose of influence is to speak for those who have no influence.  I was reminded yet again that while my influence is small, I can use it to speak for those who have no influence- those who are hurting, those without hope, or those with it who need someone to help.

While I listened, and wondered how I could do that more, he went on to say that this year we should look at what we have and throw it down to God.  Much like Moses gave his shepard staff to God, and God used it to lead His people across the Red Sea, we can look at what we have in our hands and though we may have no idea how God can or will use it, if we give it to Him, He will. 

So this year, I’d like to share my story with more, throwing down the small gift I have to offer.  I pray that this year, God uses my heart and story even more than last year, and that I have the courage to look for opportunities to share it.  My fears in asking for opportunities to share is something that I can’t overcome alone, but can with Him.  So there it is, my prayer for the New Year.

I pray that this year, we all use the influence we have to speak for those who have no influence.  That whatever usually gets in our way, from fear to complacency, be pushed aside.  That we look at what we already have in our hand and throw it down for God to use.  You and I will likely never have the influence of Rick Warren, but we can be used here and now.

Happy New Year!

Saying Goodbye

We aren’t very good at saying goodbye, or even knowing when it’s time to.  Our family is facing that right now with my Grandmother, and at this very moment critical decisions are being made.  Just a few nights ago she had two strokes, and the night after a seizure.  She is responsive and has made it very clear, both through a living will years ago, and comments in the past few days, that she wants to be allowed to die naturally.

But right now she can breathe on her own, pump blood on her own, but is having difficulty swallowing.  Due to that, the doctors wanted to place a feeding tube to give nutrition and medication, and though she didn’t want to, agreed to it with the promise that it wouldn’t stay long.  After just a few hours, she pulled it out on her own and doesn’t want it back in.  But her children, my mom and her siblings, are having a hard time agreeing to that.  After all, she could regain all needed functions with therapy, or at least have a good shot at it.

But she is exhausted and ready.  Her wishes must be honored.  I can’t help but think that if she could see past the exhaustion and depression that comes with a seizure, she’d want to live more life.  Austin was exhausted, but we didn’t get to take part in the decision for him.  We didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.  We wouldn’t have said goodbye though, we would have stopped him.  I hope my mom and my aunts and uncles and other family gathered around her can find a way to say goodbye when the choice has been made.

Goodbye’s are awful, but I’ve learned that they’re better than never getting a goodbye.

If There Were No Valleys

I’d like to write a post about how much better today was than yesterday, some lesson about how a new day brought a new perspective.  In a way that was true, as Michael actually went 12 hours in a deep sleep with no shower or vomiting (shower= even better than meds when he’s sick).  We thought he was turning the corner on this episode.  I even got a few hours sleep, even if it was in a chair.  But that’s a lot better than the night before.

Instead, a new day brought news of my grandmother suffering two strokes in the night.  And my mom, who has been watching the boys while I focus on Michael, needed to go be with her.  But to add to the struggle, her car needed work that she can’t really afford, leaving means taking yet another unpaid day (or more) off work, and of course there was the matter of figuring out how to get my boys taken care of.  I reached out to friends to help solve the matter of the boys, and as I knew they would, faithful friends took that burden away.  There was still the puzzle to figure out of who would take them when, and what they needed, and where they needed to be, but there’s no question of them being taken care of and loved on.  My mom’s car/financial situation didn’t magically resolve itself, and as I write the work still isn’t done and she hasn’t been able to leave yet.  But God will provide, I do believe that.  

Reaching out and asking for help isn’t in my comfort zone.  It’s a phobia to tell the truth.  But I know that I can’t do it alone, and I miss out on so much when I don’t get pushed out of what’s easy.  With our search for Austin and our battle with Michael’s illness, I spend more time asking for help than I’d ever choose to.

But I can tell you this… if I didn’t face these valleys I’d never know the full gratitude of love and friendship.  I would miss the chance to be encouraged by a text, phone call or email that just checks in.  I’d miss a cup of coffee being delivered that wasn’t even asked for but much needed, that warmed more than just my hands.  My kids would miss the chance to know that they can count on others too, that this life is meant to be lived together.  They might grow up thinking church is a place we go, instead of the people who live it.

I’m not crazy, if given the chance I’d skip the valleys.  But since we’re here, might as well look around and enjoy the view.  I couldn’t ask for more.