Archive for the ‘family’ Category

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Bitterness seeping in

December 21, 2009

I have a confession to make. My cousin recently found out he has a rare form of cancer (he is 25) and he does not have health insurance. Instead of doing something else my family decided to give money toward helping pay for his treatment. And I am very bitter and irritated by this. I don’t really know why, we were going to give money to try and buy a cow or goat or something for a family in a 3rd world country before we found out about his cancer. I don’t really feel that strongly about doing that, although I think that’s part of why I’m irritated and bitter.

I think part of my irritation and bitterness is because my cousin hasn’t been doing anything for the past however many years. He has been living at home working about 20 hours a week not trying to do anything more. But that shouldn’t matter. I think another part of my irritation has to do with being told this is what we are doing instead of being asked if I would like to do it. I think I am also irritated because they won’t tell us any thing about what’s going on really. I think I am annoyed that we are dropping helping a family that could have a life changing gift if we would give our money to buy them a cow or goat or whatever to help in a way we would do without it being a Christmas gift if it wasn’t Christmas. But mostly I think that Satan is using this little crack and trying to make it bigger, I think that I am allowing him a foothold and I refuse to give in and miss out on what Christmas is all about.

So I could use your prayers, for my cousin and for a change in attitude for me. Because I don’t want to be bitter about giving to him. I don’t want to let this get in the way of celebrating Christ’s birth.

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A New Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

When I was a little girl my grandparents would take me and my cousin out every year to a play at the college. We always looked forward to going to the play because we got to go out to dinner before the play someplace downtown, usually the 8th Street Grill. As we got a little older we would joke about how we needed to make sure we planned to go to dinner at least 3 hours before the play because it would take that long to eat and get to the play because so many people would stop and want to talk to my grandparents. When they introduced us as their grandchildren the inevitable response would be “you girls are so lucky to have these two wonderful people as grandparents” or something along those lines.

He was an excellent coach- the kind of person who cared about his players as people, and often looked for “non-traditional” types to fill his teams. I think the reason he made such a great coach was because he was a wonderful teacher. He was patient and he would explain and teach until you figured it out. One summer I spent one morning a week with my cousing learning how to play basketball. The next year I played on the 7th grade basketball team, and the year after that I tried out and didn’t make the team. I’m pretty sure it’s because I didn’t go to practice with my grandpa.

It was my grandpa who taught me how to play tennis, my grandpa who taught me to canoe, my grandpa who showed me the importance of family, my grandpa who showed me what it means to serve others. Some of these lessons have stuck with me better than others.

My cousin and I are completely different people. The only thing that connects us is our familial bond. My grandparents recognized this, but also encouraged us to spend time together. They took us to their summer cottage for a weekend every year, they’d take us to plays at the college each year, they flew us down to AZ to spend our spring break with them, they gave us a lot of opportunities to spend time with one another, and although we have nothing in common really, we have these shared memories. We have a bond that was formed only because of them. And although we are not close today, we are only connected in any way because of what they did before.

I have so many wonderful memories, memories that revolve around spending time with grandpa doing so many different things. We never sat around bored when he was there. And now he’s gone. And Thanksgiving looks totally different.

As a family we are not really all that close. We get together twice a year- Thanksgiving and Christmas. When kids were younger we’d get together on the 4th of July as well, but not anymore. It’s amazing what loss does to a family. Suddenly we are not a family that sees each other once a year basically. Suddenly we are a family. We are laughing together, we are crying together, we are finding that we are connected because of this extraordinary man.

There hasn’t been a lot of sadness yet. Right now we are all so glad he is in a better place now because he wasn’t able to be himself anymore. But tomorrow we are gathering to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, a day when grandpa cuts the turkey with his electric knife and sets out place cards with job assignments stuck into gummy orange slices. A day when grandpa offers his wise knowledge about what the Lions should be doing to win the game. A day we have never had without him.

It will be a good day, it will be a day filled with laughter and memories and tears. But it will be different. Today I am thankful for the legacy grandpa has left behind- a legacy that reaches around the world, but most of all the takes this jumbled bunch of people and brings us together. I am thankful for the man who taught my father what it means to be a strong Christian father, thankful for the man who taught me that family means finding the things that bind us together instead of letting our differences separate us. And I am thankful that God decided it was time to take grandpa home. Because as sad as it is for all of us, knowing that he can play tennis, lawn bowling, basketball, and all those other things he loved to do and couldn’t anymore is better than having him sitting in the room with us.

What are you thankful for this year?

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Angel or Star?

November 29, 2008

As a kid I used to think people who put stars on top of their Christmas tree were bad Christians or else didn’t believe in Jesus. At the time this seemed completely logical-  a star is a geometric shape, an angel is a messenger of God. But sometime in high school (yes, I know, late) I realized that a star is just as much a part of the Christmas story as the angels. When Jesus was born a group of angels went and heralded the news to the shepherds, but the star heralded the news to the wise men. My mom loves angels. Angels are her decoration of choice throughout the year, so she will always put an angel on her tree. But it doesn’t make me a bad Christian if I choose to use a star. Of course, I may end up with an angel on top of my tree as well. What do you top your tree with? Why?

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Random Thoughts

October 20, 2008
Getting the garter

Getting the garter

*I love the smell of home- wood burning in the fire, cinnamon burning on top, and the faint remnants of a recent baking project or dinner. Yes, my parent’s house really smells like this, and no matter what happens, these smells will always be the smells of home.

*When you have been through a traumatic engagement with someone, seeing them get married to an amazing man is one of the most amazing things EVER.

*Seeing the bride give the groom the “you better have remembered the ring” look is priceless, I just wish my camera could have caught it…when the best man takes FOREVER to get it out, it’s even better.

*Family is family- no matter how much time passes when you come back together it’s like you were never apart. Having quality time celebrating the growth of family with family is so much better than friends at a wedding- sorry guys.

*My parent’s church is the church I grew up in and going back is always amazing. At one point I wanted to be the youth director there, now I am so thankful I am not- the church is trying too hard to reach out and is falling apart inside. It’s a great example of how balance between the outward and inward focus is necessary for a healthy church. And it’s very difficult for me to see the place that has been such a large part of my life crumbling. I hope things work out.

*I have an ear infection- and ear infections stink! Especially since this means I probably need to find a doctor to go to in order to get the ear drops to take care of it…but we’ll see, I’m trying my own thing first.

That’s all for now.

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Wedding Blues

October 15, 2008

My cousin is getting married this weekend. I’m very excited for her, she deserves it and she’s marrying a great guy.  But the impending nuptials bring up an ugly and rarely seen side of myself. It’s weird for me- she is the first person I have grown up with to get married. I have had many college friends get married, but no one that I have experienced so much with. And this leaves me jealous- I want to be getting married, I want to be starting a family, I want that person who you can share life with, and my person seems to be far in the distance still. This emotion, this feeling is rare for me. Some time in college I became very content being single, and have remained that way. I’m not a person who feels a pressing need for marriage or finding that right person. But the desire for this at some point has never gone away. So this week I am struggling with this. During S.S. a few weeks ago one of the questions asked was “what one future event would you like to know now?”, and right now, I would really like the assurance and knowledge of who that person is and when I will meet him. But then again, knowing may just make me more frustrated.

Frustrating, annoying, stupid feelings. I just wish they would go away.

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Miracles

July 10, 2008

It was Christmas break and me and my siblings were all home from college. My brother complained of a headache for an entire week and my sister and I resorted to ignoring his complaints because we didn’t really believe him. But at the end of the week an MRI revealed a rather large clump on his brain stem. Determining that careful monitoring was the best course for the time being we all returned to college, including my brother. Not three weeks later I get a call saying my parents are heading up to pick him up because he has been vomitting non-stop and can’t actually sit up or do anything. The hospital released him after checking him out claiming it was just the flu. So they take him home and to the hospital there where the doctors all say the same thing…no way we aren’t operating on that, it’s too risky, even though it’s obvious he is rapidly getting worse. Finally they find a doctor willing to operate, 4 hours away. I get the call telling me all this and feel completely helpless to do anything, being more than a day’s drive away. I frantically start trying to figure out what I can do. I talk to my professors, I have a huge paper due in two days and an exam in another class to take. Of course they are totally understanding and now my next hurdle, how do I get to the hospital? I search for plane tickets with little hope, I have looked before and they are always outrageously priced because it’s flying to two small cities. I find a round trip ticket for the unbelievalby low price of $150 leaving the next day. I head out and get to the hospital after my brother has already gone into surgery. The reality of this operation weighs heavily on all of us…there is a 90% chance that he will have significant brain damage including being in a vegetative state for the rest of his life or dying. That’s pretty high odds, and I didn’t get to see him before hand, so here I am feeling incredibly guilty about having been so rude and disrespectful toward this just a couple weeks ago. As we sit waiting in the family waiting room for a full day- the surgery takes more than 12 hours, I watch as families get good news and bad news leaving joyful or in tears wondering which it will be for us. In many ways this is still so surreal. Having gone into surgery before 6 that morning it is nearly that time before the doctor comes to see us…the surgery went well, but the clump on the brain stem was in a much more difficult place and larger than they had thought at first so it was more invasive than they had thought before. To know what sort of effect it had on his brain function we have to wait for him to wake up. That could be hours or even days depending. We go to see him lying there sleeping his head shaved bald and wrapped in a bandage with tubes everywhere. He’s alive, that’s a miracle in itself. That night we head to my parent’s room. There waiting for us is a room stuffed with stuff..cards, gifts, and notes. We spend the night reading the cards and notes and looking at the gifts. These things came mostly from the people my mom works with. Most of them don’t go to church and wouldn’t say they are Christians, but the notes are filled with words of love and hope and offers of prayer. And money. Insurance covers the medical bills, but the cost of staying for more than a week 4 hours away and traveling expenses and food and being unable to work for several weeks is a significant financial strain for my parents. The money given is a huge blessing, along with the blankets, fruit baskets, pictures, “survival packs”, and more. This is another beautiful miracle and by the end of the night emotionally drained from the day everyone is in tears. The next morning we head to the hospital and immediately are given another miracle…he’s awake. And as far as anyone can tell he has no significant damage, and nothing that physical therapy can’t replace. The doctors can’t believe it, the nurses can’t believe it, but we can believe it. That’s the power of prayer. That’s the awesome loving power of our God. And as he recovers and goes through therapy people are amazed, people meet God through his story. And that is another miracle. This is why when people say that miracles don’t happen anymore I have to stand there and correct them, because I have experienced a true miracle. I have experienced that which cannot be explained by science, that which can’t be explained by human rationale. It’s an amazing thing.  Why share this now? Because today is his birthday and the fact that he is back to his normal self is a blessing (although some days my sister and I would not agree with this). The credit can only go to the amazing creator of this world-Yahweh, my God.