Thursday, December 13, 2018

What's New?

Christmas is coming up fast!  As a family, we are enjoying our little efforts to 'Light The World'!

It makes all the difference in the day, when we can engage in even the smallest kindness.  Kindness is such a powerful act of survival.  We don't realize just how much it can shift the day.

This week has been a bit crazy.  I decided to quit cleaning houses.  It was such a hard decision to make.  I have spent a lot of time worrying about what to do.  I had applied at a company in a nearby town, about a month ago to do 3D drawings and animations.  I really didn't think anything would come of it but after a lengthy interview and a test project, I was offered the position and I accepted it.  I tried a hundred different ways to hold on to my clients that I clean for but I knew in my heart, I had to let it go.  It's been a 12 year career, and though it was hard, I worked for very nice people who have been extremely kind and patient with me, especially this past year as my life has been going sideways and I had to cancel a lot, so I could take care of my kids.  I will miss those people each week.

Shelbie has been in rugged shape this week.  She's been fighting a cold for about three weeks but seemed to be improving a great deal, in fact, I would say she had kicked it.  Tuesday night, she was running a fever and broke out in petechiae.  I was worried that her platelets were dropping again so I ran her in to the Urgent Care before they closed for the night.  She has no physical signs of an infection but her white count was triple what it normally is for her, so that was concerning.  They started an antibiotic just to be safe, since clearly, something is brewing. 

From Tuesday night, until Wednesday night, Shelbie slept 18 hours straight!!!  She was up for just a couple of hours, before going back to bed and slept again until this morning at noon.  Today, she's been stumbling around, mixing up her words and feeling nauseous but still, no real signs of infection except for a fever that waxes and wanes but never above 100.  Her blood pressure, on the other hand is out of control.  It's been hanging around the 96/ 64 which is extremely low!  When she has seizures, she ends up sleeping for extended periods of time but I haven't noticed that they affect her blood pressure.  It's hard to say what is happening.  She is really not doing well.  Next week, we are back in Salt Lake for Pulmonology which is probably going to be a waste of time but maybe having another set of eyes on her won't be so bad.

Life is moving fast as usual around here but I'm trying to keep a Christmassy perspective and savor in the beauty of this season.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Best Gifts

I love this time of year.  I love walking through a mall and seeing all the people hustling along with their gift giving list in tow.  I know that one could argue in the worldliness of it all, but I like to think that their hearts are full as they thoughtfully consider the one they love. 

I reflect on my own love of giving gifts.  I really can't wait to watch my kids opening a gift I've spent half the year hiding. 

Photo: LDS.org
On my way home from the mall, with carols playing on the radio, I considered for a moment on the Wise Men, and precious gifts they offered baby Jesus. These weren't just men in the town of Bethlehem who thought to drop a little gift by the new baby down the street.  These were men of important reputation.  These were men from far away places who brought gifts of great significance; gifts that symbolized what they knew about this child, born into a poor and lowly family.  They had yet to witness of the width and breadth of Christ's short life on the earth but they journeyed for months to minister to this family.  Regardless of the circumstances of his birth, he was thought of as royalty.


Gold, Frankincense and  Myrrh were the gifts given.  Not only were they of great worth from a worldly view but spiritually as well.  The gold, symbolizing his precious, everlasting purpose as a Savior of the world.  Frankincense to symbolize his healing mission as he ministered to everyone he met and Myrrh.  Myrrh is my favorite gift to learn about.  It was used, in the day, to embalm the dead but not only that, it was a healing oil.  To me, Christ's death allows us all to experience an eternal healing from the battle scars of mortality.


So, what about the Shepherds?  They didn't come with gifts of worldly worth.  They had nothing to offer and in fact, Shepherds at the time, were thought of as dirty, often shunned people yet they were the first to be privileged to see and hear the Angel announcing the birth of Christ. They went right away.  They obeyed.  They witnessed the miracle of birth; the Savior of the World.
Art: Carl Bloch


And then the Angels...they never left the side of the Mary and Joseph.  They stood by faithfully, they led the way and they accompanied Christ in the most difficult of circumstances as he grew and suffered in his final days of preparing the greatest gift we could receive.

What are we to learn from the Advent of Christ?  Christ is a Savior to all; the wealthy, the poor, the sinner and the saint.  His birth was a gathering of all.  As we minister to those around us and light their world, are we gathering all, as Christ did?  We all have a place in lifting the burdens of others.  We can bring the gifts, the worldly things that matter; a meal, a tank of gas, warm clothes, priceless treasures even.  We can be like the Shepherds and arrive quickly and witness and revere the struggles and trials of those we minister to.  We can be a listening ear, stay near and offer blessings and balms of spiritual healing.  We can be an angel and lead others to those in need, stay close always. 

Whatever gifts we choose for the ones we love and the ones we are led to serve, give them the best gift...the gift of you.  Whatever you offer it matters not, just show up, be a light. When service is done in love, it will always be the Best. Gift. Ever. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Never Worry Alone

There are lots of ideas floating about that involve donating to food banks, being a secret Santa, sending cookies to the neighbors, shoveling snow from the widow's driveway, but very few ideas about the emotional labor we can do for one another; the things that cookies and casseroles won't exactly fix...though those can be a welcomed respite.

We all know someone struggling with one thing or another.  We all see their problems that seem to have no earthly answers but have no clue, the fear they tend to.  What then?  How do we light their world at this time of year that can be so difficult despite the Fa-la-la-ing around us?

For today's idea...Never let someone worry alone.  I heard this idea from a highly esteemed Neurosurgeon. One of the hardest things to do is worry alone.  Those worrisome thoughts roll around in our anxious minds with a weight that can be paralyzing.  The fastest way to fix a load of care begins with a thoughtful ear.   You won't have to look far to find someone who needs to share their burdensome thoughts, someone who has no one else to shoulder the worries of life.

Image: Simon Dewey
 This thought occurred to me a few weeks ago as I sat in church.  We were asked to introduce ourselves to the people sitting beside us.  I sat beside a woman who's husband had recently had a massive stroke.  His once energetic body had become nothing more than a shell.   She herself was not a specimen of health though she was the sole caregiver for her husband now.  She was weary and worn.  I saw so much of myself in her.  As she poured out her worries that were far from an introduction, I felt the intensity of her emotional laboring she did.  I made a point to visit with her afterwards and she was more than willing to share her worries.  When all her tired thoughts had tumbled out, she had a tiny light in her eyes once again.

I know that those few moments didn't change her world, but for those few moments, she didn't have to worry alone.  We exchanged ideas of how to cope in chronic situations.   We shared a light and a love even though our situations have no resemblance to one another.

So, this week, slow down the frantic pace of Christmas prep and stop to share a worry with a sweet soul in need.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Ordinary Power

We've all been asked the question: If we could have any super power, what would we choose?

So, what would you choose? 

Would you be more powerful than a locomotive, faster than the speed of light, able to leap high buildings in a single bound?

Not once have I ever heard anyone say their super power would be just some ordinary thing that we are all capable of.   That would be silly, ordinary power is just so...ordinary.  We all secretly wish to be more than just plain, old, boring, ordinary. We long to find some great passion and purpose to define our days in this life; some legacy we leave to the world.

With the first of December, our church launched their annual, Light the World campaign.  It's a month of sharing our light, daily, with those around us through acts of love and service.  The world will not be saved by great people doing powerful things but by the ordinary, humble, human spirit of light and love we intentionally share. 

One of my favorite songs is Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy.

 

Phillip Bliss wrote this popular song when he heard the story of a ship trying to get into the Cleveland Harbor on a stormy night.  The Lighthouse shone bright and could be seen, but the lower lights had gone out.  The lower lights guide the ship into the safety of the harbor.  Without those lower lights, a ship has little chance of getting safely to the shore.  The tragic ending, is that the ship missed the entrance of the harbor and smashed into the rocks.  Everyone had lost their life that night. 

The Lighthouse is a super bright light that is seen for miles, the lower lights are much dimmer but of equal importance...an ordinary light, you might say. 

Christ is our Lighthouse, but we are the lower lights.  We are the light that cares for others being tossed in the storms of life.  We are the ones, through our acts of love, who rescue and save those around us.  There is power in one...one person, one deed, one act, one love, one little light.

For this month, be ordinary.  Do the things we do best in our little ordinary corner of the world, serve and love those around us.  There is great power in a shared hope, a borrowed faith, an ordinary light that changes the world in powerful and amazing ways.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hope

Where is the time going?  In my effort to simplify my life, it's become a whole lot more difficult. 

Just when I think everything is working out, a wrench appears from nowhere and it all changes again.  I'm learning that hope isn't something you master in a day but every day is a new opportunity to hope. 

I love December.  It feels like an unwinding of a world that has been wrapped up so tightly in worldly matters.  We all seem to take a collective exhale and slow down to, at least in moments, help shed a little love and light upon the those around us we deem to be less fortunate than ourselves.  It's almost like a rebirth of hope that humanity will actually pull through.

This week, my hope was dashed on several occasions.  Health insurance continues to be the thorn in my side it was designed to be.  Work is full of problems but the biggest blow of all came with a call from Huntsman.  We've been waiting to get Shelbie's PET scan done and every other day, I've called to remind them the appointment still hadn't been scheduled.  They finally responded on Friday by saying the head of the Radiology Department, some doctor we have never seen or heard of,  denied the request for Shelbie's scan.  He claims that she had one last year and it is not necessary to do another one.  I immediately contacted our team, via email with a very frustrated, somewhat Mother Bear of an email. 

The back story is, that when we met with our Neurologist in early November, she gave us a 10 page scholarly article on the prognosis of CVID and the progression of the disease.  The article clearly states that once the granuloma tumors have left the confines of the lungs, treatment needs to be more aggressive in the form of chemotherapy.  Shelbie has tumors in her abdomen, and her brain.  I asked in my email how they can educate me on the precarious position Shelbie is in and then they sit around humming and hawing about when and if to start treatment and then...some random doctor who has never been involved in our case gets to pull rank and determine the course of treatment...or lack thereof. 

So, all of this, and some low moments this weekend, left me wondering  what to do with hope.  What do you do when hope seems like a waste of time and no match for the way those around us can screw up the plan?  Hope is this intense belief that everything is working out.  When it appears that this isn't the case, there goes hope.  Life everything else in life, I am learning, as I pause to ponder on such things, that maybe there's more to hope than I thought.  Maybe hope can be nothing more than a 'hope' that everything will make sense. 

I love how a small shift, a pivot in our perspective can take an overwhelming angst and make it manageable. 

I don't know how this is going to end for Shelbie but I hope that as we move along on the path of everything going wrong, we will at least see how it comes together to make sense.  I hope that a deeper understanding prevails, in the end.  At least I hope.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Thing About Faith

I've been trying to take some time to reassess my life, make some new goals, decide what 2019 is going to look like, you know, making the assumption that I have a say in the matter.    There have been some big changes in me as I've sat to ponder on these things, send out some love to the Universe. 

In wading through these big thoughts I stumbled into my faith crisis. 

It's probably not what you're thinking.  I'm not losing my faith.  I'm not questioning all the whys and hows of life but I am questioning the lessons I've been taught about faith. 

From an early age, prayer and faith and are kind of lumped into the same lesson.  At age 6, you lose your favorite toy and  your dutiful, Christ centered mom says, "Well, did you pray about it and ask Heavenly Father to help you find it?"

Huh?  Well, no...

But you try it out with the help of your mom and when you're through, you open your eyes and there is the toy.  Like magic from some distant land of God, it appears.  "That's Faith!"  you're told.  So, it becomes a pattern.  Like all the important things in life, a pattern evolves and with each challenge and trial, we navigate it with our new found tool of faith and prayer.  Time and again, it works. 

As we get older and the problems a little bigger, the process takes time but don't worry...now they teach you about God's time and how he really doesn't track time the way we do so in HIS time, the answer will come.  You stumble along the so called Heavenly time frame and more often than not, the answer arrives in the nick of time, because remember, God is an 11th hour God...not a God on the first watch.

So many rules when it comes to God and Faith...and the rules we thought were unchanging at age 6 just got all switched up into something more complicated and hard.  Faith is hard!

Now I'm in my 5th decade of life and the concept of Faith required of me now,  has little resemblance to my 6 year old faith.  I mean...that makes sense...I've grown, I've seen some things...hard things.  I'm done looking for my lost toys.  Where do you go with your faith when the magic of it all disappears and waiting on the Lord means you never get the answer?  What is the next faith level?

These questions fill my thoughts nearly every hour of every day.  For months now, Heaven has been an absentee friend as I search and pray and ponder and wrestle and plead and cry and weep and wail and gnash my teeth and shake my head and even fall apart in humility.  I pray more, read more scriptures, do more good and still, the answers aren't there.  Is it me?  Is it HIM?

I think I'm realizing it's me.  With every stage of life, a new version of ourselves is required and so it is with faith.  Faith really isn't magic.  It's not a reward because we prayed.  Things don't always work out, people remain sick, it rains on our parade, frogs remain frogs no matter how sweet the kiss.   The faith I am learning to have now is faith in the character of God, his heart, his mind, his kingdom and that is where my trust needs to be.  It's starting to make sense. 

When we are young, faith is an experience; an enjoyment of blessings realized.  Now, I'm learning that faith is a relationship. Whatever God chooses to do, Faith is about remaining with him.  Choosing to stay.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pursuits of Happy

This weekend, Spence has been in Oregon shooting a music video for the punk rock band Roseburg.

Spencer has been sick for the better part of 12 weeks...since he was in Mexico.  He came home sick and has been struggling to stay on his feet ever since but, in true Spencer fashion, he refuses to slow down.  Of course, the logical thing to do is take a road trip to the Oregon Coast. 

He and the band arrived at 2 in the morning.  They slept for 3 hours and made their way down to the beach to film as the sun was rising.  Since Spencer has been a young adult, he has developed this fascination for the sunrise.  He loves the morning fog, the way it teases the morning light.  I think there is something in the way the light creeps in and before you know it, and almost all at once, the world floods with light.

I talk to him every day, not because I can't let him go but because I love to witness his life.  I'm so smitten with my kids and fascinated at the way they pursue their happiness.  Sometimes, I think he is like the sunrise...his life can often be hiding in moments that are the darkest, just before dawn. Nothing makes sense and he fumbles along but then all at once the light wins and his pursuits in happy and purpose, throw the shadows as they stand as big as the light.

I stole this picture from his Instagram Story.  I love this.  I love to see him working, pursuing the passions that light up his life.  It might be my favorite picture of him. It's just him on this photo shoot.  There is no team of photographers, videographers, light or sound guys...it's just him.  This is Spencer in his happy place.

 A picture he took of the Oregon beach, just as the sun nudged its way through the morning fog.

 

What's New?

Christmas is coming up fast!  As a family, we are enjoying our little efforts to 'Light The World'! It makes all the difference in...