Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When the Sun breaks through...

I drove to north Mississippi and back yesterday. It was a first for me since our move but it wasn't for pleasure. I was worried and anxious and didn't notice the scenery at all as I urgently tried to get to loved ones in the critical care unit in Tupelo.

Coming back I had a bit more peace. The drive home less pressing. I had time to admire the scenery along my way. After ten years in the western desert I am still amazed at the density of foliage, at the rich greens that vary in at least a hundred shades in Mississippi. I almost had to pull off the road when I glanced at the thick trees on the side of the road just as the sun broke from behind a cloud and pierced the forest with the most picturesque beam of light.

I pointed and yelled for my kids to see. And then I took a deep breath. A deep sigh. It was exactly what I needed.

Butch Simmons is not technically my relative. His sister was camp director of the summer camp that employed me during my college summers. Miss Trish Simmons has mentored me, prayed for me, and maybe even disciplined me a time or two. In the more than 25 years she has known me, she has rallied prayer warriors for my family from sea to sea! She has prayed for needs in my life before I even knew I had them and she has shared her precious family.

When the triplets were born she was working in Hawaii and built us a beautiful family of prayer warriors there. But when she came back to the states, she lived in Clinton and because we lived in various areas around the country, when we came to Mississippi with our trio we camped out at my mom's house in northeast Mississippi. So Miss Trish found a solution, we would meet at her brother's house in our beloved Starkville. 

This perfect meeting place introduced us to Butch, his wife Susan, their daughter Hannah, her husband didn't take long before we would visit Butch, Susan, Hannah and Wade even if Miss Trish couldn't come. Or if they were anywhere near us for work, the kids and I loaded up and went to them.

Susans's job with Mississippi State athletics meant Butch and Susan traveled for Bowl games -- and of course so do we -- so we always spent those trips together as well.

Maybe it was because my daddy had died just a few years before we met; maybe it was because Butch resembled my dad in stature and spirit; maybe it was because he and Susan and their family  expressed love for my trio and Wade and I as we navigated the early days of diagnosis -- whatever the reason, the Simmons family became family. My children adore them and depend on their prayer cover, their wisdom, and even Mrs. Susan's ability to always have Bully show up when we come to her office! Hannah had her first child a few months before our Little Red was born and they behave like cousins. We have wholly and completely adopted these loved ones.

But this week, our beloved Pa Butch is fighting for his life. What he assured us was a simple hernia surgery has resulted in removal of part of his stomach, part of his esophagus and left him fighting a huge fight in the critical care unit. And necessitated our urgent drive north yesterday.

The CCU has this red phone. I am not a fan of this phone or the way the desk staff has to come over the loudspeaker to call families to the phone. The red phone is used for medical staff to speak to the families. Oh how our hearts jumped every time the Simmons family was paged.

My sweet friend Hannah had confided that she desperately needed a piece of good news. One call that said they had won a victory, a battle, a skirmish even. We had visited Pa Butch right after lunch because they needed to start dialysis and he could not have visitors during that three hours. When the call came over the intercom a dozen of us jumped out of our skin. As Susan, Josh (the dear brother who like us lives far away and our visits have never coincided...) and Hannah huddled at the receiver, dear Hannah raised an arm in what looked like a victory salute. Then just to clarify, she raised it again with a huge thumbs up.

We could breathe again as we waited for details.

She got her victory. Butch had tolerated dialysis well. There were some issues and there is a battle still to be waged but the little hill was conquered and for that we rejoice!

When the sun broke through the forest yesterday, it was a perfect visual reminder: God is always with us in this fight for Butch's life but the thumbs up from Hannah as she listened to the doctor was perfectly timed for everyone to keep storming heaven's gates with our prayers for this wonderful man. Likewise, the sun never left us today. It went behind a cloud but then, oh then, dear ones, it pierced the darkness in the most vivid and beautiful way!!

This has been a hard week -- between Benjamin's hospitalization (he is doing great now!) and Butch, we are weary and exhausted. But thankfully we serve a sovereign God who knows all of our tomorrows and gives us the strength to take each day.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

We certainly appreciate your prayers for this dear dear man!

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Friday, July 24, 2015

Broken fishing poles, shiny dreams and a sick young man.

Sometimes new things lose their luster sooner than we expect; faster than we hope.

I was six years old when my Daddy brought home a little Snoopy fishing pole. He placed it on a shelf and told me we would go fishing that very weekend. I couldn't wait. I stared up at that pole for what felt like hours. I needed to try it. I needed to hold it. I needed to see Snoopy up close.  And so I pulled it right down. And promptly broke my fishing pole right in two.  I still feel the weight of remorse.

Sweet Claire was only five when she picked the little pink bunny as a reward for bravery in her ear tube surgery. And it was only a couple of weeks later that "Rosie" fell out of the car and right in to a mud puddle while we were traveling. I scrubbed that little stuffed animal with hotel shampoo and blew her dry all in an effort to stop the tears streaming down my baby's face.

Tonight I am sitting beside Benjamin's bed in the children's hospital emergency room. It has been a long hard day.

The vomit-christening certainly lessened the luster of our new home. The fear for my hurting boy tainted my excitement for all things new.

And the fact that the first time I walked into my husband's new hospital was as a vomit-splattered-somewhat-frenzied-mama certainly tarnished my enthusiasm for this new place.

I wanted to run through the halls urging the staff to put their best foot forward so that our dreams for this new adventure would remain untarnished. But considering the fact that the first diagnostic test for Benjamin required us rolling right past the morgue, I am fairly sure that point would have been moot.

So yea, busted fishing poles don't work. But frenzied mamas sure do. And this ER staff most definitely has as they explored all the options to uncover the root of my son's pain.

And mud covered stuffed animals are gross. But memories of watching mom scrub your lovey with hotel shampoo are precious. (Rosie is still a cherished member of Claire's collection!)

And maybe just maybe losing luster isn't a bad thing. Maybe it means realizing that life in Mississippi won't be perfect. It won't be without hard stuff. And maybe that makes it less shiny, less perfect.

But maybe, it also just makes it real.

(We could sure use your prayers -- prelim reports look like Benjamin has a pretty big kidney stone.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Letting go...

Honestly. I have had to listen to one group after another tell me how to do this all summer. Apparently, letting go is the theme of the parent track for college orientations everywhere. Or at least here. At three different schools. Because three. I have three incoming college freshmen.

And apparently, according to one orientation's expert speaker, the mom of one little bitty two-year-old, I have to let go of all three of them. I am supposed to be available any time they need me. But I am definitely not to hover. (Hovering is extremely frowned upon by all college orientation leaders.)

I am supposed to plan a controlled good-bye when we move them into their dorms. I am not supposed to get over-emotional.

I am supposed to be an umbrella parent --  are you ready for this? An umbrella parent is here to weather the storms but able to be folded up and put away when it is sunny. I am supposed to be fold-able. And put away-able.

Did I mention this "expert" has a toddler? Did I mention that she opened with a letter from a parent saying "It was far harder than I thought it would be."

Oh yeah, I feel so much better now. Thanks.

I may or may not have day-dreamed about getting her off the stage with force. And a microphone cord.

Claire was eight when she announced over dinner that she would ONLY go to college if I could be her roommate. And even as her dad explained to her how this could not happen, I smiled and assured her that if she still wanted me to room with her at 18 we could have a discussion then.

Ten years seemed like an eternity that night. I was certain she would outgrow such an idea. I somehow failed to realize how hard that out-growing would be...on me. (Now for the record, my sweet girl says she would still love for me to be her roommate. But we both know she is being kind.)

I have had a picture of Mason shooting his bow and arrow in our school room for the last few years. The purpose is that seeing him with his bow drawn back, his arrow ready to fly reminds me visually that my job as Mama is to draw these back near to me, close to my heart, with a fair amount of tension (or teenage angst) and then let go so that my three arrows will soar. Without the tension, the arrow falls flat. Without pulling the bow back near to me, the arrow falls flat. Without my letting go...

I have never not even for a second wanted my arrows to fall flat. I want them to soar. I want them to achieve their goals, their dreams, to reach for the sky and grab hold.

And if that means I become an umbrella, then so be it. I will just have to learn to be the very best put -away-able I can be.


Carol - The Blessings Counter