Thursday, February 23, 2017

Intersection

Ken observes as his wife sits motionless in the kitchen. He knows her patterns and habits, perhaps better than she knows herself, and senses her somber mood.  Ken patiently leaves her to be, mindful that soon he will be called upon.   A warm and adoring embrace will give Chris the human touch of compassion she needs, but that will come only when she is ready.
 
The kitchen has always been her sanctuary, the cornerstone of their home.  Critical and trivial moments all have been shared around the reassuring middle island.  Chris sits on the leather stool at the counter needing a few moments of silence to just be still.  Waiting rooms & doctors, labs and blood tests, drugs and needles have set Chris on a course of despair.  A downward spiral has begun, with the depths of despair seemingly never ceasing.

Chris lifts her arm high as her fingers tightly curl, forming an angry fist. With eyes closed, she speaks out loud a simple prayer, Why? I thought you had more for me to do?  She knows God is listening. She never doubts His presence in her life or His authority over her existence. But today, Chris is broken and beaten. 

Ken’s strong shoulders come to rescue and carry his wife through this storm.  Her prayer and question cutting through him.  He whispers encouragement; God isn’t finished with you yet! And through cleansing tears, they regain some strength. Both long to gain human understanding as to the meaning of suffering; both understanding that they will never have an answer.


******

A letter arrived a few days later, informing Chris of approval to begin a medical treatment in her home. Casting her net out – she chose a few members of her inner circle to keep her company. Chris explained to all that her week would involve 5-days of IV infusions.  The promise of this new medicine did little to ease her anxiety. 

Comfort and love poured in from those she had sought out. The nurse displayed kindness and Chris shared meals and meaningful conversation with friends. A warm tray of lasagna had been delivered, and in the mornings there was nothing quite like the contemplation and reflection that accompanied her sweet tea. Her bliss being interrupted by the concerned check in calls from friends and family alike. Chris’s kitchen counter became the place where science, technology, and faith sharing intersected.  The combination seemed to heal the weariness of her soul. 

Thursday morning brought Kara for a scheduled visit. Prior to arriving Kara asked God for words to offer Chris. Make me a vessel of your Peace.  And as only God could do, it appeared on Kara’s daily devotional message.  She could hardly contain her joy – for she knew it would be meaningful for Chris.   In the final moments of that visit, Kara spoke words that released the curl of an angry fist and replaced it with arms lifted high and open hands ready to receive God’s answer to her cry.

Remind her… she is loved. 
Remind her… how much you respect her.
Remind her… that she is a woman who has so much to offer.
 Remind her… she is valuable and she is enough.





Where science & faith come together



Friday, February 10, 2017

Liquid Gold

Last night I was determined to cook something from a recipe in an old magazine lying on my kitchen counter.  “30 meals in less than 30 minutes” boosted what little confidence I had in my culinary skills.  I tend to stay within the 8 or 9 meals I have mastered the art of preparing.  Outside the realm of these, I dare say my family has openly wept at the threat of me cooking from a recipe.

Years ago, I would blame the electric stove for the many cooking mishaps.  Then I moved onto the culprit being the pots and pans for so many of my failed attempts.  Maybe too much salt, not enough pepper? Well, the electric was replaced with gas and the cookware upgraded to the finest…. leaving little else but myself to blame for being a terrible chief.  Ken’s favorite one-liner, “It’s not the bow and arrow, but the Indian.”  Cooking has never been my strong point!

Beginning to review the ingredients needed, I take stock of a few items missing from my inventory.  What is a good substitute for honey?  Hmm, no Marsala wine.  Shallots, Tarragon, Chile Peppers, c’mon really?  Too much planning that I close the magazine and take a ½ hour nap, exhausted from merely concocting the meal.

With little time left to prep the gourmet banquet of my dreams, I decide that tonight we eat from the pantry!   Making my way through cans, mixes, noodles and sauces; emerges a tiny blue and yellow cardboard box.  I literally have to dust it off before spilling forth the contents of Liquid Gold (as the advertisement suggests).  Tonight we dine compliments of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese! 

I am not too proud admitting my love for this cheesy mess.  Guess my taste buds have never aged past that of a 10 year old. But it is cheap, easy and handy!  I’m just following doctor’s orders at a time when I can do little else.  Sometimes in the grand scheme of life – with all our planning, organizing and good intentions – a little compromise is good for the soul!

Living with a "chronic" illness has made me quite the Master of Compromise! My inner narrative used to say; compromising is a defeatist approach or accepting a lower standard.  That inner voice had to be silenced and replaced with another.  Concessions have to be made on a daily basis and go hand in hand with giving me a positive outlook on a very negative reality.  
                                         Amazon replaces the mall, 
                             Peapod delivers a tradeoff for grocery shopping, 
                              an energy boost coming from a scheduled nap, 
                          grabbing a ride instead of the independence of driving, 
                                 simple floor stretching exchanged for the gym, 
                                           early to bed & late to rise…. 

Devised strategies acceptable for making my life more manageable.


Tonight, the give and take of compromise tells me,  Hey not a bad deal, Chris!  That little box of processed, high sugar, high salt, zero nutritional value goodness will equip us for the bigger battles we have to face!

The unveiling of tonight’s dinner has Ken excitedly saying (in the voice of a 10-year-old), Is that Kraft Mac & Cheese?  Pure magic - Liquid Gold in a Bowl!   









Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Winter Grey


I am all but willing to hibernate in the gloom of these winter months, but deep within I yearn for brightness.  I savor the brilliance bestowed on the earth by the sun’s rays. The thought alone of sunshine catapults me from my dreary disposition.   

I peer out the window and observe the tender blanketing of snow forming.   Such beauty in the falling white flakes, beckoning me to join in its movement. 

But, I remain.
                                                             ~~~~~~~~~

Images are projected onto the large computer screen.  Grey and white fuzzy shapes are brought into focus.  Before my eyes materializes the inner workings of my spine and brain.

Hundreds of magnetic resolution images capture damaged parts deep within.  She points to three large areas casting a shadow and mumbles, Here is the part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber which is damaged, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.   The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.

I am well aware of the shadows name, which has been lurking inside of me for 8 years.  But now, for the first time I am looking directly at those grey areas, which cause my every weakness.

I stare in disbelief as she comments on the size, Yes, they are quite large but at least there are only three.  At least gives me little comfort.  

She changes from scan to scan causing the illusion of graceful movements running across the computer screen.  The healthy parts of me beckoning the damaged areas of my spine to join in the dancing.  

Unable to look away, I am crushed and silenced by the weight of the grey shadow before me.

But, I remain.