Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31 – “It’s Coming”


"What sort of tomfoolery is this?" pondered the visiting pair quizzically.  Certain that my facial expressions were revealing too much of the questioning inside my mind, the husband looked to the Queen for some sort of reassurance.  Perhaps she knew what he obviously did not.  But alas, her face betrayed the same oblivious feelings.  She returned my gaze and questioned with her eyes.  But he had no answer.  So they listened.


"Instead tonight we have gathered for a different purpose.  Tonight we indeed honor.  But not the Prince.  No.  Instead we honor his mother and father.  To them we dedicate our joy and to them we present tokens of love in the form of figures for them to dangle from their own tree of celebration upon their return to their own estate.  We know the ones they had were taken by the raging waters.  My good Queen, to you!"


Got some great news last night.  Hutch went down to City Hall and picked up our official, ready to be framed and hung on the wall, long time in coming, one-sixteenth solution completed, Occupancy Permit.  Now we're ready to go full steam ahead with the Grand Opening Weekend scheduled for September 17-19. 


If all works out, that Friday will be a ribbon cutting ceremony with local officials.  The time will be determined by when they can come.  Then that Saturday we will have a big open house with everyone who has ever worked on the building or had any touch with Seaside whatsoever invited to come.  (So if that's you, consider this an official invite.  In fact, even if you've never seen the building or been to Galveston before, consider this an official invite).  That Sunday we will have a big dedication and recognition ceremony as part of the morning worship experience, followed by burgers and hot dogs cooked on the school's new outdoor grill.  It promises to be a big deal as far as preparation goes.  Great team in place already, though.  It's exciting, and it's coming.


I spent the night and part of today in Bay City with Chris.  She is still very tired, but it looks more and more like it won't be much longer.  Her Mom is now confined to the bed and a Hospice person is coming out daily to help with bathing and turning her.  Her Dad may be getting closer to accepting what's happening, too, though he refused to allow the hospice chaplain in the house today.  Maybe that's why she has hung on so long – to give him time to work through his grief.  It's sad, but it's coming.


James 5:7-8 says, "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near."


Father, come on.  Amen.

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30 – “Waiting”


The crowd was called together to gather around the garland bedecked tree brought inside the house in honor of the festive season.  Beautifully carved figures of stars and children and snowflakes and gems dangled whimsically from heavily laden branches.  The happy music came to a halt and the good host waited for attention to turn toward him.  His words captured the crowd, and everyone seemed to lean a bit farther forward. 


"You have all been invited here tonight to celebrate an occasion.  But what some of your do not know is what that occasion actually is."  The Queen and her husband joined the others in straining to listen carefully, so as not to miss a syllable.  Perhaps they had managed to surprise the young Prince with an unexpected frivolity.  That would be exciting to watch, for he was always susceptible to such joys.  The speaker continued, "We all know that this fine young Prince who has lived among us has most recently completed many years of study.  And most of us know that this very event this night is … not about him at all!"


Today has been a day of waiting for me.  It started out simple enough.  I was determined to get the yards watered, so I went right out when I picked up the newspaper and started out number one area.  And then I waited for the sprinkler to finish its 15 minutes of spewing water on the lawn so I could move it to another spot.  That's where problem number one came up.  I forgot to set the timer.  I'm not really sure how much water that section of ground got.  I remembered on all the others though.  Move the sprinkler.  Turn it on.  Set the timer.  Wait.  Eight times.  Wait times eight.


While I was waiting on th sprinkler, I started work on next week's teaching.  I knew where I was going woth it right away.  The research went well.  But some days I have to wait for just the right words to come to communicate.  I got the basic plan down after several hours.  Now I'll wait and do some work on it every day the rest of the week. 


I had to wait for the customer service department at the Chronicle to answer the phone.  That wait is so much easier when you don't have to actually hold the phone.  I was determined to straighten out a problem that happened when Mom agreed to something when I wasn't here.  It changed our whole setup.  After hammering it out with them, we now have the subscription extended to July of next year.


I was able to get Mom a hearing aid appointment.  But it's not until the end of next week.  Now I get to wait for that, which means I gear up to repeat everything for another week.


I also had to wait for the icemaker repair guy.  He was supposed to be here between 8 and 12 a.m.  Wait.  Not that it was broken, exactly, but it seemed to have forgotten how to stop.  When we opened the door, ice would fall out everywhere.  He finally got here.  Sent it through a cleaning cycle and we'll know by Wednesday morning if the sensor is bad.


When he left I still had to get Mom to water therapy, go to the bank, Academy and WalMart, get gas in the car, and pick Mom up.  After all of which I could do what I was really waiting all morning to do … go see Chris.


Psalms 27:14 says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."


Father, I'm not so good at this waiting thing.  Help me, please.  Amen.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

August 29 – “Little things”


As the celebration of the birth of the One who is Greater Even that Queens approached, the Queen and her closest confidant (that would be me), journeyed again to the Field of Mann.   Their son the Prince was completing his studies at the second level university.  A ceremony would occur.  And the Queen would not miss that.  Anyone honoring her children certainly made the trek worthwhile. 


A festival was planned to further honor the Prince, and of course the Queen was invited to attend.  Visiting strange castles in a strange land was never a course of action the Queen would choose, but some old friends were going to be there as well.  The prospect of honoring a son and seeing old friends proved too much to pass up.


The gathering went well.  There were in fact many old friends from journeys gone by.  From much earlier stages of the royal quest.   Food and celebration abounded.  Acquaintances renewed.  Introductions made.  The Queen as usual handled the event with a social skill that bordered upon excellence.  She always knew just the right word to say, just the right time to smile.  And always she watched her son, beaming with the pride only a mother can truly feel.


And perhaps it was that distraction that enabled what happened next. 


3:30 is not a recommended time to wake up the morning.  Any morning.  But for me, especially not a Sunday morning.  But so it was.  And I could not get back to sleep.  I tried all the usual remedies.  I sang to myself (didn't want to wake up the dogs and have them howling in pain).  I got up and wrote down all the things I could possibly forget to do later that day.  I prayed a lot for Chris and for her Dad and Mom.  But I was awake.  It was time to start the day.


I guess I got a lot done in those hours before we left for church.  I made some signs and copied some handouts.  I never did read the paper though.  The Galveston paper wasn't there yet when I went out front, so I just skimmed the funnies from the Chronicle.


Church went fine.  It was our first time to meet in the new building, so there were all kinds of last minute things to get done.  But I had my early morning list, so it went well.  The crowd was quite small, but everyone seemed pleased with the setup, and we are definitely looking forward to what God will do next.


After church we went to Kel and Christina's for lunch.  Her Dad had brought over some barbeque and they wanted to share.  Sure was good.  Even made the Astros loss go down a little smoother.


Texted with Chris numerous times.  She is going through little aggravation after little aggravation on top of her big quest to care for her Mom.  She never leaves the house except to go to WalMart or to the pharmacy every now and then.  But little things seem bigger than they are when you have no perspective.  No one of them is a big issue, actually.  It's just that they all add up to one more stressor.  There are times she says she is very close to a breaking point.  I think this kind of thing might be Satan trying to stop her from being the Holy Spirit with skin on over there.  If he can get her to break, then her Dad won't have anyone to look to spiritually.  She's an awfully strong woman.  He's an awfully strong God.  I like that combination


1 Peter 5:8-9 says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."


Father, watch over Chris tonight.  Please remove the little problems that blossom into full blown stressors.  Amen.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 28 – “Moving up”


And then came … the smiles.


Brief, tired grins at first.  So worn from day after day of wading through possessions and memories.  But "He is here!" and "Look!  They made it back!" and "Have you heard from …" and "It is so good to see you!"  began to ring out.  A genuine camaraderie that went so much deeper than simply "Fellow Great Islanders" quickly evidenced itself.  Live on common ground they did.  Suffer this common tragedy they did.  Face a similar future they did. 


But this small band, huddling together in the sand, within sight of the powerful ocean that has so recently wrought such destruction, amidst debris from their own homes and those of their neighbors – this small band – began to sing.  Softly at first, tentative.  The hard to explain emotions so common when one connects with the Great One were amplified some ten-fold that day.  And when the gathering was ended, they did not want to leave.  For now it was different here.  Now they had been assured.  Now they had been encouraged.  They knew they must begin to forge a new Island.  They knew it would never be the same.  But they knew as well that they were not alone.  The Great One had not deserted them.  In fact He had walked with them through the crisis.  He had brought them together once again.  They had each other.  They had Him.  Greater things were yet to come. 


Boy, am I ever beat.  We had a big workday at church today.  We moved from our old building upstairs to the new one.  Not just the school.  We moved pews and desks and chairs and boxes.  We set up the room for worship tomorrow.  It's going to be an interesting day.  We'll still have our projector for song words, but it hasn't been hung in the ceiling yet, so we have to watch out for cables on the floor.  We'll have to direct traffic, too.  All the signs are not yet up, and our entrance is in an unexpected place.  We also worked outside.  I brought our weedeater and attacked the parking lot and the weeds around our sign.  I was relieved of duty on two different occasions, so I switched to sweeping to end the day.  It looks good.  Everyone who was there seemed very excited.  I can't wait to see what happens.  Feels like it did back when we first got started 15 years ago.  What will God do next?  I like the anticipation.


Chris' Mom has been sleeping a lot more lately.  They had to wake her to administer medications and to see if she would eat something.  She doesn't seem to be in much pain, though.


I'm getting ready to take Mom to her favorite eating spot, Gloden Corral.  Sure hope I can stay awake.  I took one of my pain pills when I got home awhile ago.  It has helped.  And I am sleepy.  But it's a short drive. 


3 John 2 says, "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well."


Father, I pray this prayer for Chris.  Keep her healthy physically, and give her peace and joy spiritually.  Amen.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August 27 – “Huh?”

Now there were some days that must be remembered by the Queen and her court as good times, though they were admittedly few.  One such occasion was the first time for gathering of the followers of the Great One Who Rules Even Queens.  The aged assembly center by the Seaside was battered and not yet usable.  Yet the faithful ones began to appear anyway.   Only a few at first.  Then two more.  And one.  And another.  Slowly they arrived, each looking weary and distraught.  Each yearning for companionship.  Each desperate for some vestige of hope. 


And their eyes met.  And recognition turned to relief.  And tears began to flow.  And brief hugs of greeting became extended grasping for reality.  Friends held tightly to one another, clutching, refusing to let go lest more days rush in to separate them once again. 


And then came …


I remember a time when one of my biggest concerns was scheduling my time so that I could spend time with my family.  Most recently I tried to do that on Fridays.  Most recently.  That was sometime a little over two years ago.  There hasn't been much free time here in Galveston for awhile.  Certainly not around our house.  Oh, we are back in and the house is great.  But there is so much left to do.  And of course something new pops up every day.  Not to mention everything going on with the church and the school.


Chris mentioned something in a text the other day about a vacation "when all this with Mom is over."  We took a vacation on our 25th wedding anniversary.  The boys surprised us by setting up the whole thing.  Went to Maine to fulfill one of Chris' dreams.  Oh.  The dream?  It was … to go to Maine.  We stayed in a bed and breakfast and drove around looking at light houses.  We ate lobster and clam chowder.  Just the two of us.  It was nice.  That was ten years ago, I think.


I took Mom with me on some errands I had to do off the island today.  That is still a big deal here, leaving the Island to drive into Texas.  She was excited about going, though.  Doesn't really matter to her where, just so it involves "go."  I think she needs to have her hearing aids checked again.  It's only been a few weeks, but I always have to say things twice to her.  So I plan for it.  I say it, then  pause for a three count to let her say, "Huh?" or something along those lines.  Then I say it again.  I have experimented on that repeat with saying it louder, softer and the same.  She pretty much always hears the second time, whether I turn up the volume or not.  I think she just has to have time to focus, to tune out all the background noise and concentrate on one thing at a time.  How do I have such a wealth of insight into my Mom's hearing difficulties?  Well, mainly because that's what I find myself having to do all the time.  Huh?

Isaiah 28:23 says, "Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say."


Father, help my family to be patient with Mom and me.  And help me to hear you when you speak.  Amen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26 – “A difficult day”


The life that went on was not the same, however.  Nothing was the same, nor would it be ever again.  Day after day we continued, dragging, washing, sadly shaking heads, weeping together, holding each other.  And every day help came, often from unexpected sources.  And most every day someone from the clan of the Queen would trudge slowly away, heading for a station of aid offering sustenance of food and drink. 


Standing in the line proved difficult, for these were folk of the household of a queen, certainly not used to receiving such of the most basic of needs.  Yet stand they did, day after day, meal after meal, humility being the entrĂ©e of force here where there was no choice.


What a difficult day.  Oh, I got done what I needed to get done.  Worked on the Sunday teaching.  Went to WalMart to see if they had something Chris was trying to find in Bay City.  They didn't.  Why was I not really surprised?  Made sure Mom got something to eat.  Got prepared for home group tonight. 


The effects of the latest course of medications for my rheumatoid arthritis seem to be solidifying.  I feel pretty good in the mornings.  Around one or two in the afternoon I begin to feel the dull ache in several joints.  If I am able to stop for awhile around that time and either take a nap or at least relax my mind, then the pain remains a dull ache for most of the afternoon.  If I don't rest, then the tireder I get the mor severe the pain gets.  In either case, though, by the early evening the sharper pain joins the dull aching, and the two vie for control of my attention.  By 8:30 or 9:00 I take the pain medication he prescribed so I can get to sleep by 10:30 or 11:00.  So far I have been sleeping until 4 or 5 in the morning.  If nothing else, I have something specific to tell the doc next time I go in.


Chris communicated regularly.  She texted numerous times giving me updates on her Mom.  Apparently she woke up at three and was ready to start her day.  That made everyone tired, so emotions were on edge.  Her Mom has been showing some confusion and seems to be getter weaker.  She even wanted to just run away at one point.  Me too. 


Psalms 27:13-14 says, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."


Father, I know your goodness is there.   Give us some of your confidence.  Amen.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25 – “Evil giraffes and Mansfield police”


Now The Claw was a boon to all residents of Greater Island, though at the time we saw it as the Great Interloper.  It arrived at random moments, roaring through the villages, realm after realm, stopping on occasion to perform its gruesome task.  The huge mechanical marvel spoke with the voice of a hungry beast.  The giant arm rose from its resting place within the monstrous travel wagon.  The claw at its tip opened its gaping jaws.  And slowly, deliberately, devoured pile after pile of the once precious belongings, ripping them from the ground, smashing branches of long cared for trees, tearing through grass and sod to reach under the target, and finally, forcefully, closing the jaws.  Sometimes rapidly like a ravenous lion tearing at his prey.  Sometimes slowly like a sated vulture finishing up his tasty victim, forcing the last little bits into his mouth before spreading his wings to fly away and bask in his victory.


Ah.  A boon to be sure.  But not always an easy one to accept.  We watched our Queen as her beloved instrument of music made its way past.  And many joined in her silent weeping.  For this maker of melody was the one on which the Queen as a very young child had learned of rhythm and notes and tunes of happiness from days gone by.  Her own young princes had touched the instrument's ivory teeth as they, too, garnered the wisdom and refreshing that comes from being immersed in fun songs of childhood laughter as well as expressions of deepest praise to the Great One Who Rules Even Queens.  It was the symbol of a life – a good life - that was passing, changing, never to be the same. 


And The Claw took it away.  A boon.  A catastrophe.  A necessity. 


And now life would go on. 


What a dream.  I was on a drive to the beach with Mom in some 4 wheel drive vehicle (that becomes important later in the dream, but I didn't know it at the time).  We got to the seawall, but the waves were too close for the vehicle to get down to the sand.  So we started to back out, because suddenly we were somewhere in the West End on a one lane road with a red truck backing up behind us.  He got out first.  I backed up and pulled into a driveway off to the side so I could head forward.  The sand was very loose, but the 4 wheel drive was working well (told you it would be important).  As I put it in gear, I realized that there was a river of some kind ahead with a very nice car stuck in it.  I had to pull very close to the car to turn around.  Almost hit it in fact.  And as I backed away from that car and shifted into drive, some huge vines started reaching out from the other side of the river to grab our car.  They looked like tentacles from an evil villain in a super heroes movie.  I just managed to elude them when I heard a voice.  It was coming from one of the vines, which was actually a long neck with the head of a giraffe on top.  The head spoke through evil-looking fang teeth and said, "Oh, you're not going to get stuck with that car, are you?"  (Like I said, 4 wheel drive was important to the story).  "Well, it's a good thing, because the Mansfield police would arrest you in a heartbeat."  Whew.  Evil giraffes and Mansfield police.  I'm so glad I eluded them.  Both sounded terrifying.


Psalms 27:5 says, "For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."


Father, thank you for assuring safety.  I can get scared of the strangest things.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24 – “BC Day”



Protestations were to no avail.  The offer had been made and the good one departed, leaving the Queen and her family noticeably stunned and greatly humbled.  The grand White Castle, then became the center of activity for the next months.  The Queen Mother returned, for a room had been set aside especially for her.  Eventually the youngest prince and his young bride came to occupy the third room. 


And with that worry behind them, the couple began to concentrate in earnest upon the upcoming event of joy, the birth of their first child.  And the baby was a girl, much to the delight of the Queen and certainly to us all.  For now, after five young princes, we had our princess.  And she indeed proved to be the utter delight we envisioned.  The little cousins were all wonderful and we knew they would grow to be pleasing in the sight of the Great One Who Rules Even Queens. 


Yet in the midst of the joy, we continued in the drudgery that had become our day to day existence.  Dragging item after item from the remains of the Castle.  Cataloguing the losses with visual images as well as written descriptions.  One further heave and the ruined item found its place near the road.  The road that had become a mountain of rotting rubbish. 


Until … The Claw.


Today was BC Day.  Kel and Christina decided they wanted to go to Bay City (that would be the "BC" in "BC Day") to see Chris and her Mom, so I hitch hiked myself a ride with them.  But they weren't leaving until after lunch, so I had some time to get stuff done. 


And this morning was hard.  I was really excited about seeing Chris, so I had a hard time concentrating.  I did some more work on the story so I would have something for the blog today.  I even got a lot done toward the sermon for Sunday.  I'm wondering if I'll be able to show a movie clip illustration Sunday.  We're moving locations for worship, and I don't know what AV stuff will be available.  We'll see.  Remembered that I hadn't done my website article yet, so I did that, too. 


We have a big workday Saturday to move things around in preparation for school and for worshipping in the big building.  Starting at 8 a.m. to stay out of the heat. 


We got to Bay City with no trouble.  Didn't really get to spend any time with Chris though.  Too much going on with the boys and Chris' Mom all vying for attention.  I did get the little DVD player set up that I got for them.  They have never had one, so maybe it will give them something else to do. 


We finally convinced Chris to come to Chili's for a birthday supper.  It was great to see her away from the house for a change.  That is until it started raining and the power went out briefly.  Then she started worrying about whether it went out at the house as well, and whether they would be able to hook up the portable oxygen.  They made it fine. 


It was hard to leave.  A very unfulfilling trip from my standpoint.  I just wanted more time with Chris.  Still do.


1 John 4:13 says, "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit."


Father, help me be more aware of that Spirit you have given me.  I sure forget him a lot.  Amen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23 – “Telephone tennis”


What more? 


The very next day that same compassionate one arrived again, this time with her husband.  He called us aside and in a quiet, gentle voice he said, "We have a dwelling not far from here.  It is not on Greater Island, but it is close.  We offer it to you for the use of your family for as long as you need it.  And please, do not offer to pay.  We are humbled to make the offer.  The Great One Who Rules Even Queens has been very good to me.  You need it right now.  I do not."


I thought I was getting good at this whole texting thing.  We have a plan with unlimited texting, so virtually all of the communication between Chris and I since she has been at her Mom's has been by texting.  One of my sons even switched it over to some mode where it guesses what I might want to say next and puts that word up on the screen.  It gets it right every now and then, but most often it just sounds like nonsense.  I don't use that feature very much.


The other feature it has automatically selects the most likely letter out of the three possibilities on the phone pad.  Yes, I still have one of those really old fashioned phones where the pad actually looks like a telephone, with each number representing three letters.  So all I have to do is push the button that has my letter in it, and the little man inside decides which of the three letters to pop onto the screen.  He's getting better.  If he doesn't get my word at all after a few tries, he gives up and lets me type it in the old way, one push for the first letter, two for the second, and three for the third.  I can see why they full keyboard phone is so hot. 


I texted Chris this afternoon and told her I was going to take a break, and then cut weeds in the abandoned yard next door.  At least that's what I thought I typed.  Come to find out there is a code word for "then."  The little guy inside typed out "teen" instead.  So Chris got very excited and wanted to know who the teens were cleaning up the yard, and were they going to haul off the downed trees.  Miscommunication.  Gotta be careful to read what I think I write.


My favorite times are when she is sequestered in the bedroom and can "talk" back and forth.  It's kind of like playing telephone tennis.  She types something, then I have to respond to that one so she can respond to what I type.  And on and on.  The problem comes when I think of something to say before she answers.  Then I send another out and that means I'm ahead of her.  Then she answers the first one and I've already forgotten what it was she was responding to.  Or when I send a text when she can't see her phone, so it sits for awhile.  Then she gets it and responds.  That was hours ago.  I have to check the "sent" file to see what I said so what she said will make sense.  Telephone Tennis.  Fun game.


Colossians 1:17 says, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."


Father, thanks for keeping it together.  The world.  The church.  Our family.  Amen.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22 – “Otters and dolphins and a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle”


And so one memory at a time they began.  With the proud Queen herself ever at the ready to make decisions, item after item made its way past her outpost.  With tear-stained cheeks and a brave resolve, she nodded her silent good-byes.  Often she joined those tasked with tirelessly scrubbing those items deemed salvageable.  Tools wore down, often more quickly than did the spirits of the intense crew.  More help from afar began to arrive in waves of earnest workers, or loads of food, tools, and supplies. 


And it was after one of these charitable deliveries that the Queen and I were approached with a simple question.  Simple, yet it struck us to the core.  "Where?" they asked, innocently, "where are you staying when you are not here working?"  A straightforward query.  Certainly deserving of an answer.  How difficult could it be?


Yet an answer had we none.  For it was only at that moment that we realized our place of lodging would no longer be available … in but four days.  Where, indeed?  We had no place to go, save miles and miles away.  Perhaps to board with distant cousins or more distant friends at their, well, distant realms.  Surely one would have us.  Perhaps a time with one and then a move to another.  Who should receive that first message, the initial, certain-to-be-tear-stained plea?  How could we think of such things when we have so much yet to accomplish here? 


The dear one standing before us said nothing more.  But the pain in her eyes was more than simply a reaction to the panic in ours.  She quietly nodded.  And quietly walked away.  Understanding.  And grieving with us.  And more.


We played with play dough today in worship.  It's amazing the different things people can come up with when you give them a tiny little can of play dough.  I made an otter.  At least it looked like an otter to me.  The scientists in the group had some questions about it.  One little girl made a great Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.  Someone put a dolphin on the podium.  I saw the grapes of wrath, a key, a stick figure baby Jesus, and even a fairy with wings and everything. 


The teaching was on God as Maker of Heaven and Earth.  Made for a fun introduction, and everybody had something to do with their hands so they wouldn't fall asleep.


We also had an open house for the school this afternoon.  Not a lot of traffic, but the ones who did come were very impressed with the building.  It's not a finished product by any means, but the guy who heads up the association of Baptist churches in the Galveston area said it was the best facility he had yet seen for doing ministry in the entire Galveston region.  He's right.


As I prayed for Chris the last few days, whenever I got to actually going down there to visit, I got a real check in my spirit.  It was as if the Lord was indicating that going was fine, but not to spend the night.  That would be a deviation from the arrangement over the last few weks, but I was willing.  I didn't want to hurt Chris, though, so I texted her this afternoon to see if there was some reason I might be getting an impression like that from God, or was I just being typically crazy. 


She responded that it was actually an unbelievable answer to prayer.  She said that she thought her Mom would handle things better if there were not any "extras" in the house at night, but she didn't know how to ask me without it sounding like she didn't want me there.  She's pretty much exhausted, and the tension is really carrying her to a breaking point.  I assured her that we would work out a day trip early in the week. 


As the day wears on, the good ol' arthritis is tuning back up.  I still haven't taken one of the new pills during the day.  But there is definitely one in my immediate future.  I'll try to hold off so it will last all night. 


Romans 8:37-39 says, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Father, just keep us connected to you.  That's all.  Amen.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21 – “Oops, a Lexus”


For the Queen and her faithful band the issue was not a place to stay.  Indeed they had not even begun to consider alternate lodging.  My own brother in fact had an empty home nearby, available for a short time.  There the group began this new twist in the already confusing scenario.  And a daunting task before them lay.  All of their belongings must be removed from castle grounds.  All of it.  Nothing could remain.  Not once-mighty, now-toppled cases which teemed with books.  Not tiny palm-sized keepsake boxes with remnants of the Queen's modest array of jewels.  Not colorful couches or piles of pillows.  Not favorite clothing or instruments of music.  All must be removed.  All must be carried, regretfully, away from the castle grounds and placed – no, dumped – all-too unceremoniously near the path of those designated to slowly remove it, to dispose of it. 


The distasteful task was in process throughout Greater Island.  The diverse Islanders suddenly found that they had this one thing in common.  All have lost.  All are grieving.  But all must come together as one, already united in loss, and push on.  Move forward.  Ever forward.  Through the slime.  Through the filth.  Through the stench.  Through the memories. 


I had a plan for today.  Actually the master plan was to begin last night.  I was going to take one of the new pills the rheumatologist prescribed yesterday and go right to bed.  The label on them was covered with warning after warning.  "Do not operate heavy machinery after taking."  "Medication may make you drowsy."  "Be sure you know how this medication will affect you before you do anything important."  OK.  It didn't say that last one.  But my favorite was "You can take this medication with food, but it will decrease its effectiveness.  Warning: if you take this medication on an empty stomach nausea might result." 


So.  I was going to take one and go to bed.  Yesterday was one of the worst pain days I have had in a long time.  I have had nothing for pain for the last two weeks while the evil medication that worked so well but also enjoyed messing up my liver got out of my system.  As you might expect, it got steadily worse.  At least the doctor was able to see me when I was in pain this time.  I finally took one around 9:30 or so.  I figured that was long enough. 


I slept OK.  For an hour.  Then I woke up and groggily looked at the clock.  And went back to sleep.  An dthen I repeated the above in an hour.  And again in an hour.  I woke up every single hour on the hour all night.  I remember it clearly.  I felt like I was in the operating room and the yhad already begun gassing me every time.  Very strange.  I was always able to get back to sleep, though. 


Today the pain hasn't been all that bad.  It hs worsened as the day progressed, so I'll take another tonight.  But back to the original thought.  My plan was to stick around the house all day and take one every three hours like it said I could on the bottle.  I would begin as soon as I got back from WalMart.  But it was WalMart on a Saturday.  In Galveston.  In the summer.  On tax-free weekend.  There were one or two other folks in the store with me.  Undaunted, I plodded through the teeming masses and got the things we needed.  I even stopped to talk to a few folks I knew along the way.  Not to mention my usual people-watching.  Had to get that in.  When I went to the parking lot I chirped the alarm on our Chevy Equinox door lock system and reached for the handle.  And it wasn't our car.  I stepped back and took a closer look.  Oops, a Lexus.  That was most assuredly not our car. 


By the time I got home my brother an dhis wife were here to take Mom out to eat for her birthday.  Only it was for my birthday too.  So I was invited.  My uncle even came.  We went to Gumbo Bar on PostOffice Street.  Great gumbo.  Go sometime.  And we came back to the house for some more of the great chocolate pie from Christina. 


And about two minutes after they drove off Nathan and April and Cailyn came by to give Mom a pint of ice cream so she could eat the whole thing and not have to share with me.  Gotta love those boys of mine.  When they left she brought me over an ice cream cone.  Gotta love that Mom of mine.


So finally everyone was gone.  I could begin my plan for the day.  Only the day was pretty much over.  I'll wait until later and take another one before bed.  Maybe it will keep me under longer that one hour at a time.  I appreciate the freedom from pain, though, however temporary.


Psalms 33:11 says, "But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations."


Father, I trust you to handle the details of carrying out the proper plans.  Even the ones I come up with that flutter and change.  Amen.