Monday, October 30, 2017

Part VI - Whaaaat's that you say? Something about Monday night?

This is a continuing story of God's provision. You've got to read this post. It'll amaze you!

Here are Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V.  This post picks up with the days following Dad's death. My husband and I were out-of-town, staying with Dad's wife Peg. A neighbor was keeping our three children while we were gone. Although Dad's condition was serious, nobody expected him to die during this visit. But listen to what happened...it's astounding..

Unexpectedly, Dad passed away Monday night, and on Tuesday, we met with the funeral director and the pastor. As was customary back then, we made plans to wake Dad on Tuesday and Wednesday and arranged the funeral Mass and burial for Thursday morning.

Oddly enough, my ticketed flight was returning home Thursday night. (Keep that thought...that will be useful information later.)

Everything was falling into place, but I hadn't yet spoken to the kids or my neighbor who was keeping them. Joe and I had already realized there was no way we could get them to the funeral. They'd have to fly alone, and we weren't comfortable with that. Things were happening so fast, it was all we could do to keep pace.

So we needed to call them and deliver the news, but I felt like I was on a treadmill.
Monday night we got home from the hospital too late to call. I didn't want to phone before school on Tuesday morning, knowing I'd upset the kids. When I tried to call after school, however, nobody answered. (This was before cellphones.) Once again, Tuesday night, after the wake, it was too late to call. The days were slipping by.

I finally reached them Wednesday after school. I first spoke with our oldest child, Lynn, who was 12 at the time.

When she asked how things were going, the words just blurted out of me. "Grandpa died on Monday."

"Monday?" she cried. "On Monday?"

I didn't expect that. Really, why had it taken me days to get the news to them? I tried to explain.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "It was too late to call Monday night, and Tuesday I tried and nobody answered...I didn't want to call before school...so this was the soonest I could reach you..."

It wasn't until my husband and I were back home, talking with Lynn face-to-face that I understood the reason for her reaction.  

We were talking, and I again started to explain to her why it took days for me to reach them with the news. But Lynn stopped me. "I wasn't upset about that," she said.

Then she explained.

"The reason I was upset was because Monday night while you were gone, it felt like someone walked into my bedroom as I was falling asleep and spoke to me. I don't know who it was, but it wasn't scary. It felt like it was someone who loved me very much, like it was you or Dad, but I knew it couldn't be you or Dad because you were both in New York. But someone came into my room and whispered to me, 'Grandpa's going home on Monday.'"  

Tears filled her eyes.

"I thought that it meant he was going home from the hospital," she said. "I thought he'd be alright."

Chills ran through me.

Grandpa did indeed go home on Monday. And I'm sure he's, at last, alright. 







Friday, October 20, 2017

Whaaaat? You said whaaaat? More surgery? That can't be!!!!


She happened to call at just the right time yesterday...

Fran, my case manager from Blue Cross Blue Shield. I'd just returned home from my follow-up appointment with the surgeon...the one who removed my appendix...and I was freaking out because it's possible I'll need surgery again...soon. 

What I thought was normal tenderness from the appendectomy was actually not normal.

Something's wrong, the surgeon said, effortlessly pinpointing the exact location of my pain. Your gallbladder needs to come out, he said. We'll run some tests...

The news blindsided me.

Surgery? Again? Wasn't the appendix issue enough? The weeklong hospital stay? The  decision to delay surgery for weeks, trying to calm the infection down so they wouldn't have to remove part of the intestines as well? (It worked.) The nausea? The pain? 

How about the surgery? What about the sensation of being suffocated from the general anesthesia? Who can forget the long dark night in the hospital wrestling to find a pain medication that worked? 

Another surgery was not on my bucket list. No, not at all. 

Never mind that I didn't feel too good. I haven't felt good since cancer treatments began two years ago. I can deal with not feeling good. But surgery? Please not.

It was a quiet ride home in the car, Joe and me. 

Shortly after arriving home, that's when the phone rang. It was Fran, my case manager, a nurse from Blue Cross Blue Shield. You get one of those when you have a chronic illness, like my type of cancer.

I'd spoken with Fran often enough to feel like buddies. I bombarded her with several medical questions, and she was knowledgeable and helpful.

Then, I couldn't help it. I went there. I asked questions I dare not direct to anyone but a voice on the other end of the line that I'd never met.

"I'm worried," I said. "What if this is related to the cancer? Could it be?"

"First of all, don't worry," Fran said. "What's worry going to do for you? Worry is useless."

Thank you. I needed that. 

"Lots of people get appendicitis," she said. "Many have gallbladder problems. These problems are treatable." 

"But I've always been so healthy," I said...whined. "I never had health problems until cancer packed its punch two years ago. I can't relate to the string of ensuing health issues. Nothing makes sense. Nothing adds up."

Then I
voiced my deepest fears.

"Why is this happening?" I said. "What's causing all this? Is it the cancer? The chemo treatments? Did the chemo treatments just flick a switch in my system and make everything come apart? What's going on?"  

Finally, Fran spoke. Her words were simple and direct. "I think only One person can answer that." 

I knew exactly what she meant. 

"And I think His name is G...O...D," I said.

Even with that simple acknowledgement, my fears subsided. 

Suddenly I realized what I was doing: I was trying to control something I couldn't control. 

Typically, I
choose not to question God. My faith is in Him, at all times, in all things.  No matter what happens. At least, that's what I've always said.

Suddenly, I realized that, really, I was balking...why me?

It's all a matter of faith. 

I looked at the cross, and thought, why not me?

In that moment, a great inner strength arose.. 

I'm convinced it'll be alright.  

Next up: HIDA scan of the gallbladder
.


No matter what happens, I will constantly praise the Lord.   Psalm 34:1


Click here for a song and have a wonderful day!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Whaaaat??? You said whaaaat? More surgery?! That can't be!!!



She happened to call at just the right time yesterday...

Fran, my case manager from Blue Cross Blue Shield. I'd just returned home from my follow-up appointment with the surgeon...the one who removed my appendix...and I was freaking out because it's possible I'll need surgery again...soon. 

What I thought was normal tenderness from the appendectomy was actually not normal.

Something's wrong, the surgeon said, effortlessly pinpointing the exact location of my pain. Your gallbladder needs to come out, he said. We'll run some tests...

The news blindsided me.

Surgery? Again? Wasn't the appendix issue enough? The weeklong hospital stay? The  decision to delay surgery for weeks, trying to calm the infection down so they wouldn't have to remove part of the intestines as well? (It worked.) The nausea? The pain? 

How about the surgery? What about the sensation of being suffocated from the general anesthesia? Who can forget the long dark night in the hospital wrestling to find a pain medication that worked? 

Another surgery was not on my bucket list. No, not at all. 

Never mind that I didn't feel too good. I haven't felt good since cancer treatments began two years ago. I can deal with not feeling good. But surgery? Please not.

It was a quiet ride home in the car, Joe and me. 

Shortly after arriving home, that's when the phone rang. It was Fran, my case manager, a nurse from Blue Cross Blue Shield. You get one of those when you have a chronic illness, like my type of cancer.

I'd spoken with Fran often enough to feel like buddies. I bombarded her with several medical questions, and she was knowledgeable and helpful.

Then, I couldn't help it. I went there. I asked questions I dare not direct to anyone but a voice on the other end of the line that I'd never met.

"I'm worried," I said. "What if this is related to the cancer? Could it be?"

"First of all, don't worry," Fran said. "What's worry going to do for you? Worry is useless."

Thank you. I needed that. 

"Lots of people get appendicitis," she said. "Many have gallbladder problems. These problems are treatable." 

"But I've always been so healthy," I said...whined. "I never had health problems until cancer packed its punch two years ago. I can't relate to the string of ensuing health issues. Nothing makes sense. Nothing adds up."

Then I
voiced my deepest fears.

"Why is this happening?" I said. "What's causing all this? Is it the cancer? The chemo treatments? Did the chemo treatments just flick a switch in my system and make everything come apart? What's going on?"  

Finally, Fran spoke. Her words were simple and direct. "I think only One person can answer that." 

I knew exactly what she meant. 

"And I think His name is G...O...D," I said.

Even with that simple acknowledgement, my fears subsided. 

Suddenly I realized what I was doing: I was trying to control something I couldn't control. 

Typically, I
choose not to question God. My faith is in Him, at all times, in all things.  No matter what happens. At least, that's what I've always said.

Suddenly, I realized that, really, I was balking...why me?

It's all a matter of faith. 

I looked at the cross, and thought, why not me?

In that moment, a great inner strength arose.. 

I'm convinced it'll be alright.  

Next up: HIDA scan of the gallbladder
.


No matter what happens, I will constantly praise the Lord.   Psalm 34:1


Click here for a song and have a wonderful day!!!





Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Here's a story from one of my recent hospital stays....God is love...and God really is everywhere...


During an recent hospital stay, I found myself watching news about a boisterous mom driving drunk with a helpless toddler in the car.  I cringed, wondering how a child raised in a faithless, careless environment could succeed. How would they find a better life? How would they find God?

Later that night, Jess (not her real name), a thin, dark-haired nurse with a gentle disposition, responded to the incessant beeping of my monitor. Soft light spilled from the hallway into my room, making her gentle presence a mere silhouette. I asked how she got into nursing, and her story kept me spellbound. Unbeknownst to her, it addressed my unspoken concerns.

Jess was born in the islands, but her father brought her and her brothers to the US when she was 10 years old, abandoning her mother and two other children. 

“My grandmother didn’t want him to take me,” Jess said. “She tried to get him to leave me and just take the boys, but he refused.”

Jess’s father was combative and violent to her. He was insulting, unpredictable and cruel. Worlds apart from her mother, Jess often cried herself to sleep.

“As a teen, I got involved in an abusive relationship,” Jess said.  “Then I had a dream. I saw my grandmother. She didn’t talk. She didn’t say a word. She stared at me. It was so real. I knew she was saying, ‘Don’t do this.’”  

The vision shook Jess. She ended the destructive relationship.

At the time, Jess was working at an electronics store. “Some people kept inviting me to go to church with them,” she said. 

Finally, she did…and she kept going.

A gentle smile spread across her face.

“It changed my life,” she said.  “I came to know Jesus Christ.”

Goosebumps ran through me.

Jess's first job at the hospital was delivering meals to patients. She worked her way through nursing school, earning her RN. Now in her thirties, she’s married to a faith-filled man and they have two young children. She aspires to be a NICU nurse someday.

“My brothers are still filled with bitterness and hate for my father,” she said. “But I’m not. I ask them to come to church. I want them to know Jesus. I tell them there is a better way, but they won’t listen.”

I nodded, smiled, and wiped away tears.

Oh, the places God will take us. Oh, the things He wants to show us there. I’m not the same person I was when I entered that hospital. The healing that took place was beyond physical. 

God is so big. God is so awesome. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He showed me how he could reach into the heart of a helpless child, speak to her through a vision, lead her to Himself with the invitation of others, and set her on a path for holiness.

Amazing, isn’t it? Here she was now, the one caring for me.

Surely there’s hope for that toddler in the car.

Keep the fire burning.  Keep praying.  Keep inviting.

God uses us. God saves us. God speaks to us.

His work isn’t done.



Click here for a song...10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Part V - What a difference a day makes...24 little hours continued (with a song at the end)


My husband and I had just crawled into bed, leaving a soft hallway light on.  For a moment, all seemed peaceful and quiet. I pulled the sheets up around my shoulder and smiled at a moonbeam filtering through the window.

Suddenly, the phone rang, piercing the stillness. Joe and I glanced at each other, but waited, assuming my stepmother, already tucked away in her bedroom, would answer it.

The we heard her muffled voice, then silence, then movement as she opened her bedroom door. I heard her little quick footsteps heading down the hallway to us.

She was sobbing.
Before she uttered the words, I knew. "He's gone," she said.  I burst into tears as she tried to relate the caller's information. 

I remember little else, except that Joe helped us regain our composure and helped us get ready to return to the hospital. For us, for now, they were keeping Dad's body there. 

Joe drove us back to the hospital. Back to the room where, just hours earlier, I'd debated whether to leave or not. 

We spoke to the nurses who told us that some time after Joe and I left the hospital, Dad slipped away, quickly, peacefully. They shared some of their last details with us. We stayed in the room with his body, sharing our shock. We talked about him. We talked about today. We talked about tomorrow.

Finally, it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes and headed home to Peg's house, once again. This time, we knew we wouldn't return.

Looking back, I can't help but wonder if Dad wanted to be alone when he slipped away. I'm sure he found comfort in the fact that Joe was there for me, that we were there for Peg.

God was clearly in the details. 

I mean, what made Joe change his plans and come to town a day early? He can't explain it, he just had the feeling he needed to do that.
Had he stuck with our original plans, he would have arrived the day after Dad passed away. Instead, he got to see Dad and be with us.   

Joe's presence changed everything. Because he was there, I went back to the house instead of staying at the hospital again that night. That was God's provision, because that meant Peg wasn't alone when she got that phone call from the hospital. She had us. A day or so earlier, it would have been a different set of circumstances.

But tonight, we were all together. Nobody was alone when they got the news.

At the doctor's suggestion, we returned to the hospital and
hung out in that hospital room with Dad's body, coming to terms with the news, holding Dad's lifeless hands, listening to the nurses share details of his last moments, and doing what we could to delay the inevitable final goodbye. 

I
t was late Monday night by the time we returned home.  It was too late to call my neighbor who was keeping our three kids. That would have to wait until tomorrow.

Unbeknownst to me, things were unfolding exactly as they should.

Remember, it was a Monday night. That little bit of information will be helpful later.


Click here for a song, Blessings by Laura Story. Wait until you hear what happens next. God is always up to something, and making his presence known. We are not alone. Know you are loved!. 

Here are Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
IV

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blessed Mother, are you there?



Years ago, my sister-in-law and I made several trips to Conyers, Georgia, where thousands would gather on a country hillside to pray the rosary while a visionary was reportedly receiving messages from the Blessed Mother. Believable? You decide. Here's my story:


As soon as I let Jenna, then 9, race across the field to join Aunt Gina and Cousin Jenny, Sara, then 5, exploded.



“Why can’t I go with them,” she screamed, grabbing my hand one instant, refusing to follow me the next. But they were already out-of-sight.



We’d traveled seven long hours to reach our destination, a place in the country where a visionary reportedly received messages from the Blessed Mother.



We’d been there before, Gina and me. Sitting on a hillside praying the rosary with 10,000 other pilgrims proved a powerful experience, one we wanted to share with our kids.



So we knew to arrive the night before, spread a blanket, and return early the next morning.



There was a little bookstore to the left, and Gina needed to go there. The area to the right was where the visionary would speak and pray, so I headed in that direction to lay out our blanket for the next day. We’d meet at the car.



It was a pleasant afternoon with a gentle breeze, but the walk across the field with Sara screaming by my side couldn’t have been more horrid. She balked, pulled, pushed, and cried.



I knew she was hungry. I knew she was tired. I knew she’d rather be with her sister and her cousin. I set my face like flint to get the job done.



When we finally reached our destination, I tossed the rumpled blanket onto the grass.  As I did, I overheard the chatter of a small group nearby.



“Do you see it?” one woman shouted.



“Yes, I do!” a man exclaimed.



“Look at that!” another cried.



A hush fell over the group, but I didn’t look up. I’d been here several times when others experienced the ‘miracle of the sun’, but I could never see it. Instead, I feverishly worked to get the blanket arranged.



Suddenly I felt Sara silently tugging at my shorts.



I looked at her.



Her eyes were transfixed on the sun. Her shoulders were relaxed, the tears dried, her little fists unclenched. She seemed to be in another world.



“Do you see it?” I asked.



Speechless, she nodded. I followed her gaze upward, but the glare of the sun turned me away.



I looked back at Sara, still staring aloft.



“What do you see?” I asked.



Without blinking, she responded. “It’s spinning,” then added, “I see colors around the sun.”



A hush settled over us. By the time I finished arranging the blanket, Sara no longer felt drawn to stare at the sun. It was like she re-entered this world, a changed child.



We held hands, skipped and laughed as we headed to the car. When we saw Aunt Gina and the girls, we couldn’t wait to tell them what happened.



The rest of the evening was uneventful. We ate McDonalds, where the kids jumped in the colorful balls, and munched on hamburgers and French fries.



Some question whether the visionary was fabricating the messages or not. It never mattered to me. The prayerful experiences affected my life. But, honestly, I believe a five-year-old couldn’t have manufactured the experience Sara had on that hillside that day.



Blessed Mother, pray for us.







Editor’s note: The miracle of the sun reportedly occurred at Fatima, Portugal on October 13, 1917 when the Blessed Mother, who had appeared to three children, promised to send a sign “so all would believe.” That day, thousands witnessed an opaque sun, surrounded by colors, spinning in the sky.








Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday's Words

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of  many kinds,
because you know
that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. 

James 1:2-4







Monday, October 9, 2017

Part IV...What a difference a day makes...24 little hours...


God sometimes leads us outside of our comfort zones, as in this continuing story...Here are the links for Part I, Part II, and Part III  This is Part IV. 


After I suggested Peg abandon her agenda and just spend the day with Dad at the hospital, that's just what she did. It was now Monday. 

You might recall that when my stepmother, Peg, asked us to come, my husband already had plans to fly out the next morning on a business trip that took him near Dad's destination. Joe planned to come to town Tuesday, when the convention ended.

Near dinnertime Monday, however, Joe phoned me at the hospital. "I'm here," he said.  "I left the convention early. I felt like I needed to come today, not wait for tomorrow."

We were surprised and thrilled! This was before cellphones so there wasn't a lot of communication between us in the chaotic days since I'd arrived at the hospital.

When Joe arrived, Dad rallied. His eyes opened. He looked more alert than he'd been in days. I stepped away to give my husband precious time with Dad. I saw Dad's lips moving, and Joe leaning close to catch what he was trying to say. But all that emerged were faint, unintelligible whispers.   

That evening, when Peg got ready to head home, I had a decision to make. The hospital room was too small for both Joe and me to stay there. I didn't want to leave my Dad. I didn't want to leave Joe. It didn't make sense to send Joe home with Peg while I stayed at the hospital.

I didn't know what to do. I glanced at Dad, then at my husband. 

Finally, one of the nurses offered an opinion.

"Go home," she said. "You've been here for days. Get a good night's sleep."

I still hesitated, but what she said next ended my indecision. "You can come as early as you want in the morning," she said. "Pick your time. 6 am. 7 am. Whenever you want."

That early? Yes, that early. Well, then, I wouldn't really miss anything, would I? 

Joe and I, eager to remain in Dad's presence, stayed awhile after Peg headed home for the evening. Finally, tired and emotionally drained, we said our goodbyes. Dad's response, if any, was minimal. 


I took one long last look at Dad as we left the room. He was asleep. We would return early the next morning. I wouldn't miss anything. I took Joe's hand and, wordlessly, let him lead me through the shiny hospital hallways, into the elevator, and outside into the crisp night air. 



It was late and we hadn't eaten, so Joe and I stopped and ordered a takeout pizza.It was an unusually quiet car ride to Peg's house. 

Part of me still wondered if I'd made the right decision to leave the hospital, but, looking back, that was clearly a part of God's plan. Things are always a part of God's perfect plan.


He holds us close to his heart. Every moment. Every heartbeat. Every person.  


Back at the house, we broke open the pizza with Peg. We were all together. It was good.


It wouldn't be long before the phone would ring and we'd get the phone call that would change everything.

We were all together. It was good.  .


For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11





Monday, October 2, 2017

Part III...I think you just need to be with him today...

I opened the car door, slipped into the passenger seat, and gave my stepmother, Peg, a hug. Before she pulled away from the curb, she announced the day's busy agenda, which included firing dad's oncologist, renting medical equipment to be delivered to the home, and getting Dad released from the hospital. 

When she finished talking, I reached over and touched her arm.

"Peg," I said. "Forget about all that today. I think you just need to be with Dad."

A knot formed in my stomach as I spoke.

Peg was a strong-willed, determined woman. Nobody told her what to do. I cringed, expecting a harsh response.

However, it never came.

Peg simply cocked her head and looked at me.

"You just need to be with him today," I repeated.  

No argument. No criticism. No scowl.

In fact, her frown disappeared.  

We made a new plan. She'd stay at the hospital while I'd take the car and drive home to shower and clean up. My real goal, however, was for her to have one-on-one time with Dad.

It probably wasn't just my goal though.

Looking back, I realize it was the goal of God above, who put those words in my mouth, gave me the courage to speak, and gave Peg the grace to hear.

We'd soon find out why.


You can find Part I of this story here and Part II here.
here



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