Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Fresh Perspective

This week marks the one year anniversary of my nephew, Louis, getting sick. For those of you who don't know the story, I will give you the highlights. Louis lived here in Ohio for about six years. He was raised as a member of the church but was not active as an adult. Louis and I have always had a close relationship and so during the time he lived here we relied on each other for help and support.
Last April, he went to Mercy hospital with pain in his abdomen. He was transferred to UC where they treated him for a blood clot in the main vein coming from his liver. He was doing pretty well with his treatment, however during a procedure there was a complication which caused him to go into respiratory and cardiac arrest. The doctors and nurses were able to bring him back, but were certain that he would not live. I was at the hospital when this happened and it reminded me a lot of what you see on tv.
We were blessed to have two worthy Priesthood holders working at the hospital that night who were able to administer to him. The blessing was beautiful and comforting to myself and also his mother. In the days and weeks that passed, Louis got stronger and eventually was able to be moved to a long term care facility in Utah so his mother could be close to home. In Nov. he came home from the nursing home and now lives with his parents.
He still has a long way to go. He cannot speak, but his facial expressions let you know what he is thinking. He requires constant monitoring, but he is home and he is happy. This brings me to my story for this week...I called my sister to see how she was doing and the Relief Society president answered the phone. At first I thought I had dialed a wrong number, but she assured me that I had not. She told me that Martha was busy with Louis and he was having a problem so they were taking him to the hospital.
Later that night, Martha called me to explain that Louis was choking on some mucous and they couldn't get it out. She shared with me how wonderful and calm his brother, John, was as he called 911 and explained that they needed help. She said that John looked at Louis and told him, "Louis, you stay here with us. You don't go to Grandma! Stay with us."
As I have thought about that statement the past few days I am amazed at John's perspective. He is 16 years old and he shares a large portion of the responsibility to care for his older brother. It would be easy for him to resent the time he has to sacrifice to care for Louis. It would be easy for him to resent the time that his mother has to spend taking care of Louis. My sister said she feared that they were going to lose Louis and she was sure that my mother was there during this episode.
I also know that this past year for Louis has been frustrating. One day he is healthy and able to go about living his life the way he wants and the next he is trapped in a body that won't work. I have wondered what impact John's words had on Louis. I have marvelled at the love John showed for Louis. Most of all, I am thankful because I understand how John came to love Louis so much.
When John was little, Louis was a lot older and he loved John and always went out of his way to do things with/for him. One might think that would be the reason, but the real reason that John begged Louis to stay with them is because he truly loves him. I believe this love came as a result of the example of my sister and my mother. My mother cared for my handicapped sister, Julie for 20 years and allowed each of us to take part in that. The privilege of caring for Julie is one that I treasure to this day. I miss her a lot. Martha now is doing the same thing as she teaches her children while they care for Louis.
I know for a fact that we love those we serve and there can be no greater blessing than this. I am so thankful for John's insightful words..."Stay here with us." Don't feel like you need to leave just because you are tired, frustrated, too much trouble, or you think we are tired and frustrated. We will take care of you because we love you. We want you here with us. What a different world it would be if more people understood the power of unconditional love. Thank you John, for giving me a fresh perspective.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Tupperware Shape Ball Experience

Today in nursery, I brought a Tupperware shape ball toy for the class. As we sat on the blanket, I handed each child a different shaped piece. Then, one by one I put the ball in front of each child with the matching opening on top to help them put the piece inside. As I watched what happened next it made me think about my own life...
Some of the children followed my prompting and tried to put the piece into the space I was showing them but they were not sucessful because it was slightly twisted and it didn't match the opening. Of these, some persisted to follow my instructions and eventually got the piece to go in the opening and others started looking for and trying to put the piece into another opening.
Some of the children didn't pay any attention to what I was showing them and immediately tried to get the piece to fit into a different space. It became frustrating for me because I was trying to help them and they weren't listening.
Some of the children were excited about taking a turn with the toy and others didn't really care at all if they got the piece in the correct place. It didn't take long before I was ready to put the toy away!
As I reflected on this experience this afternoon, I wondered how many times Heavenly Father has become frustrated with me. In the past few weeks, I have been struggling with some health issues and I have been extremely frustrated. I have prayed and asked for help. I have had Priesthood blessings. I have acted on the things I have been instructed to do and nothing changed. This past week, my patience was exhausted. It was 3am on Tuesday morning and I had had all I was going to take. I was on my knees issuing an ultimatum: Solve this problem or else! (and the "or else" was that I would work all week because I have to and I would rest all day Saturday and Sunday and I wouldn't be going to church). I did feel somewhat guilty about throwing a temper tantrum, but I was really tired. I have since repented of the tantrum.
In the hours and days that followed, I got the answers I was needing. How thankful I am that despite my temper tantrum, I was blessed by a Heavenly Father that loves me. In thinking about my experience today, I know I had the right pieces to the puzzle, they were just slightly askew. Instead of adjusting each of the pieces, I was looking for a different opening that fit the way I had them arranged. After humbling myself and making some alterations I was able to see some changes. As these changes came, I expressed my gratitude for the blessing.
I had planned to attend an all day stamping party yesterday, but instead spent the day in bed getting the rest my body needed. I know this was the place I needed to be even though I wanted to be with my friends. I knew it was important that I have the strength to be in the nursery class and that if I have to work all week and sleep all day Saturday so that I can be there on Sunday then that is what I will do.
Nursery today went pretty well. I am confident that there is much good being accomplished and that is why I am experiencing such opposition. Corrie's talk in Sacrament meeting today was very uplifting. With my current struggles and stress, I know I need to be in church each week. I also know that Heavenly Father will give me the strength to be there. I am hopeful that in time, I will get all the pieces into the ball and everything thing will be in the correct order. I just have to be patient and listen to His instructions.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Adventure Continues

As promised in a previous blog...this is a picture of me on a mule. It was taken in Sept. 2002 when my friend, Pam Clark, and I, took Eric's mother with us to the Parade Rest Dude Ranch in West Yellowstone, Montana. Here is the story...
We had so much fun during our whirlwind weekend in Texas that we wanted to travel again so almost immediately after getting home, we started planning another trip. We looked for airline tickets online because we decided that we didn't like flying stand-by. We found a great deal and reserved our tickets. The day before the deadline to actually pay for the tickets we talked again about taking the trip. Neither of us felt good about going so we canceled the reservation. A few months later we were humbled as we realized that had we gone on the trip we had planned, we would have been flying home (or should I say trying to fly home) on Sept. 11, 2001. How thankful I am that we followed that prompting.
Pam found this dude ranch online and we decided that we should go there. The rates were good because it was the end of the season. One of the highlights of the trip was called "The Sunset Ride". Now, I must confess that I was a little intimidated by the prospect of riding anything up the side of a mountain, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity and I was not disappointed. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I'm sure the ranch hands were accustomed to dealing with people that didn't know anything about riding and I was thankful for this. The mule's name was "Shaw Lynn" and he was very gentle. They had steps that I walked up to help me get on his back. It was nothing like trying to get on the cow. After a brief lesson on how to ride, we were off! Pam was riding behind me and she coached me a few times until I got the hang of it.
We started up the mountain and rode for about 30 minutes until we came to a beautiful lake. It was just about sunset and the temperature was great. I remember being in awe of my beautiful surroundings. It was the beginning of Fall so the leaves were starting to change color. It was wonderful. By the time we got back to the ranch it was nearly dark. Pam snapped this picture so I could have photographic evidence of my ride. I don't know why I didn't take my camera with me? I definately will, the next time I do this.
During this same trip, we went to Yellowstone National Park. That was my first time to go there and I didn't get to see Old Faithful, so I have to go back someday for that. We also stopped in Grand Teton National Park. Now that was a beautiful place. We drove to Twin Falls, Idaho so I could visit my grandmother and we spent a few days in Salt Lake visiting my family. We knew we had done a lot in the ten days we were gone because we logged 2000 miles on the rental car! Wow! Oh, and I also got a speeding ticket in Taylorsville, Utah--but that is a story for another blog.
I am sad to say that since this trip we have not traveled much. Lives get busy and so for now we have nothing planned, but I am hopeful that in a couple of years after her children have graduated from high school, that we will again be able to take a trip together. How thankful I am for the beautiful earth that the Lord created. I am also thankful for the freedom to be able to travel about and see these wonderful creations.

Friday, April 4, 2008

My Daring Adventures

As a follow up to my ABC's, I thought I would post some rare pictures of me doing things that are a little daring. This first picture is from New Year's weekend in 2000. I went to Texas with my dear friend, Pam Clark. The story is quite see, her mother worked for US Air and we got really cheap tickets flying stand by. We wanted to go to LA, but that was pure foolishness. We flew from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh where we checked all the available flights to the west and then started sitting at gates. We finally made it on a plane that took us to Dallas. We rented a car and got a hotel room for the weekend. This picture was taken at the Fort Worth Stock yards.
This man was walking up and down the street. He would let people get on the cow for pictures. Pam (who had lots of experience riding horses) was able to get right up there on the cow. Now, for me it was a little different. The man (standing there next to the cow) said, "If you can get your foot up in that stirrup, I can get you on that cow." Being the daredevil that I am, I said, "No problem!" I stepped up as high as I could and got my foot in the stirrup. Then jumped. He pushed. I pulled and you know, I got on that cow. Great picture, don't you think?
Pam and I had so much fun on this trip that we decided to do it again. In my next posting, I'll show the infamous "Sylvia on a mule" picture from when we went to the Dude Ranch in Montana. I am really thankful for my adventurous spirit. I am especially thankful that even though I have a lot of "body" I have enough muscle to do just about anything I want.