Friday, February 14, 2014

February




  You prayed, despite your throat hurting so much you could hardly talk, “God give her the emotional support she needs to live through today.” 
And you and I, we cried. 
Only culture thinks it knows what our Valentine’s Day should look like, feel like, be like. 
You saw past the chocolates, the cards, the teddy bears and the roses, you saw my real soul-need.

  In our vows, when we married, before God and four hundred silent witnesses, we said we’d be there for each other,
“…in joy or sorrow, sickness or health, wealth or want, till death do us part…”
And on that balmy evening I knew I could not prove faithful those words, spoken by a fallen tongue. 
“…With God’s Divine assistance, I hereby pledge thee my troth.”
  It’s only in the knowing God that I can be faithful.  It’s only in the commitment of my heart to Him, daily, over and over again that I can be faithful to this greatest of earthly gifts.
  This gift of you. 
My Ian.
My Love.

  When I’m sick you’re there for me.  You massage my feet, hold me while I cough and cry and check on me every few minutes to see if you can get me anything else.  You’ve been faithful as best you know how.  You daily die to self, for me.
I shrink sometimes from doing the same for you. 
And I know you must feel it.

Thank you for committing to love me through it all.
  The dirty house, the coughing, the forgetfulness, the burnt lima beans, the late meals, the attitude and spirit that does not always choose to put you first.

  Thank you for committing to love me despite myself, and despite the woman I’ve become since first you vowed to love me.

  And while the world celebrates Valentine’s Day around us, you and I, we’ll eat noodle soup and peaches ‘cause it’ll slide down your sore throat easier. 

And you and I, we’ll choose to live a picture of real love.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A New Year


Today I was reveling in the thought that even though the journey seems difficult right now, God continues to shower us with blessings above and beyond our needs.  He is faithful.

January 2014.  It is today.  It is here and now.  It is this moment.  Last May it seemed that the end of the year would be so hard to reach.
Today we look at what feels like a year of unknown, struggle, and challenge ahead of us.  The only thing that can quiet my heart from beating into a frenzy is the sure tones of my Heavenly Father saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee…”

After our trip to Mayo, the second week in December, we came home and waited for the results to come back.  One by one they came.  And in the end, all was well.  The tests were all normal including the second muscle biopsy.  The doctors tell us that while something is wrong with Ian’s muscles, they don’t know what it is.  Unless his symptoms change, or his illness becomes more severe, they do not have any other tests to suggest.  Without understanding what is wrong, they haven’t been able to give us a diagnosis or a prognosis.


If I knew what to say after that… I’d say it…



Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
     I will joy in the God of my salvation. -Hab 3:18

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come!


Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


I’ll never forget hearing these words sung by a room full of grandparents.  A few years ago when I was teaching at Sonlight school we had a ‘Grandparents’ day and invited all the grandparents of the students to come and spend the day with us at school.  After lunch, and a few stories from the grandparents, we asked them to sing a song for us and they chose this hymn.  I distinctly remember the goose bumps running up my arm as I realized the lives that must have walked behind the boldness of their voices as they sang this hymn.  “Great is Thy faithfulness…Thou changest not… as Thou hast been, Thou forever will be… Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…” 

 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After writing my last post I told Ian a day later that I was ready to post something else for people to read.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to accept the reality of everyone knowing how I really feel at times.  So why not post something more cheerful?
The reality is, I still feel that way.  I still feel lost.
People ask Ian, “How are you doing?”  And he replies, “I’m doing ok.  I’m glad to be here.” 
And I want to shout to the heavens, “My Ian’s not ok!” 
I want to howl at the moon, “He’s not doing well!  We don’t know what is going on!  We do have problems!”
Instead I mostly just say, “He’s not well, but he’s doing ok.” 
I wish I could say other things.  I wish I could smile when I talk about our lives instead of turning my head and biting my lip to keep from crying.  I wish my nose didn’t run so much when I cried.  At least then I’d look more dignified. I realize I don’t know what it means to be faithful.  I don’t know what it means to go on.  I don’t know what it means to find hope in God.  I don’t know what it means to live in grace.  But I long to know.  I long for my heart to be changed.  Like one of my friends put it so beautifully, “My heart aches, and my tears flow… and I long for heaven.”
Together, Ian and I are facing daily challenges, and we are learning.  Someday in heaven we’ll know what it truly means to receive and live in grace.  We’ll know what it truly means to believe and trust.  In the mean time we’ll try, we’ll struggle and we’ll choose God.

We were privileged to spend a few days in LA and MS with the Bennett side of the family over Thanksgiving.  I had a terrible head cold that had me in bed the Saturday before we left.  I don’t know when the last time was that I felt that sick.  Dear Emily, a church friend, came over and washed up my counter full of dishes and did our laundry and even ironed Ian’s everyday shirts.  He’s still looking sharp in them!  And then, she went back to her parent’s home where the Pifer family was having their Thanksgiving/Christmas get together and the ladies made up a freezer full to meals for us and delivered them!  Remind me again how to respond to such generosity?

It was a blessing to be able to sort of leave our troubles and worries behind while we travelled south.  I was rather surprised to realize after only a few days that I felt like I was truly able to live in the present and not worry about the future.  It was a good reminder to me that often I take God’s faithfulness as only something to be sung about and not lived in a commitment to trust.

And now we’re home.  We plan to go again to Mayo next week on Tuesday, to see if we can schedule an appointment for a muscle biopsy.  And God continues to shower us with blessings.  Our local church community has pulled together, for us, in so many little ways.  I know I’d have fallen apart a long time ago if it weren’t for their continued support, prayers, meals, love, blessing and encouragement.  Just this morning after church they surprised us with 26 packages, one for every letter of the alphabet for Ian to open over the next 26 days.  The other week when Ian was feeling especially low physically, and also in spirit, I came home from work to a rather large looking package in the mail from NC.  We opened it and together we cried and thanked God for what was inside.  Some of our dear friends from a church in NC that have been praying for us, put together a puzzle with encouraging scripture verses on each piece.  They also included a note with words of encouragement and what they’ve been praying for us.  Some of the people who sent notes we didn't even know.  Our hearts were blessed and I continue to look at it and am reminded to “Hope in God, for my expectation is from Him.”  Yet another church blessed us with a very large financial gift to help with general living expenses.  And did I mention all the gifts and packages that have come in the mail to us over the last months from family and friends and even those we don’t know?  We daily stand in awe of a God who knows how to give, “Every good and perfect gift.”

Though we are facing a difficult life journey, we are learning together what it means to find joy and to rejoice with a very deep, soul-joy during the especially low times.  So, while I may look like I have it all together at times, there are also moments where I do feel much like I’m falling apart, like I, or we, can’t go on into the future unless something changes.  
We’re learning to live in the presence of One Who


“Restores our soul, Who leads us in the path of righteousness, Who anoints our head with oil and Who truly causes our cup to run over with blessings.”
 (Psalm 23 paraphrased)



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Confessions of a distraught wife…



I don’t do a good job of taking care of myself.

Ian is having a not-so-good day.

Sometimes I’m a work-a-holic.

My pile of mending is about to cascade off the sewing table onto the floor.

I didn’t clean our bathroom for over a month.

Baskets of clean, unfolded laundry sit around.  Most of the time.

I’m funny sometimes.  But normally I’m not.

I drink coffee every morning.  I didn’t used to.

Tonight I thought about running away.
Only thing… I would have to leave my heart behind.  It would hurt too much to take it with me.  Since being heartless isn’t an option.  I guess I’ll stay.

Shadrach bit me because he wasn’t excited about having Meshach and Abednego as friends.

Since I’ve moved to IA I’ve become a terrible driver.

Ian is often hungry and I usually don’t know what to feed him.

I bought another plant yesterday.

My refrigerator makes our food smell and taste funny.

I cry most days.  Every day.  Mostly.

I hurt when I see strength.  I cry when I see goodness.  I’m so mixed up and confused inside sometimes, mostly.

It’s the moments when hope is wiped away.  When I can’t see anything in the future.  It’s simply a void pulling me along.  Some days I hate time.  I hate the feeling of needing to do the never-ending list of, ‘have tos’, ‘should dos’ and ‘must dos’.  I hate the feeling of time slipping away.  And when I realize that Ian might get worse instead of better, I’m annoyed at myself for wasting these moments we do have together.  I’m annoyed at myself for crying.  I’m annoyed at myself for not treasuring life.

Sometimes I don’t know how I will go on.  Sometimes I don’t know how I will face the next few moments let alone tomorrow or in five years.  Sometimes I want to scream even though it would make my throat hurt and even though I don’t like screaming at all.

We talk those serious talks about the future.  We try to take into consideration all the options.  Even death.  And it all hurts too much.

I tell myself not to worry.  I tell Ian not to worry.  I say, “Stop worrying!”  I realize I am worrying.  What do I do?  What do I say?  What is worry?  How do I learn to quiet myself before God without a heart of worry?

I’ve fallen into a holding pattern that swings between, living as if Ian will someday change for the better, and the reality that not much has changed at all.


We spent a week a Mayo and then returned the following Tuesday for an MRI for Ian.  The doctor reported to us that the MRI showed nothing.  So far every single test Ian has gone through has come back normal except for the EMG.

EMG stands for Electromyography, a test that uses shocks and needles in the muscle to detect a problem with the nervous system or the muscles themselves.  Ian’s EMG did not find anything wrong with the nervous system but found some abnormalities in the muscles.  The EMG is not a diagnostic test but can only show that there is a problem.

We will go to Mayo for another appointment sometime within the next month for a muscle biopsy.  The doctor looked at us and said that there is, “Very, very little chance that we will find anything wrong, even with the muscle biopsy.”  We are going to go ahead with the biopsy.  Not as a last resort but as the next step.  We know that God is always the first and last resort and that is where we started and where we will end.  While we walked the halls of Mayo like hundreds and thousands before us with hopes of healing we also understood that there is only one true Physician and He can not only heal our illness and disease but He can heal our sin wracked lives with His precious blood.  And so while we are coming to the end of modern science’s understanding in this area, we know a God that created man and breathed life into him.  We are learning His faithfulness.

Thank you for your continued prayers, love and support for us.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why do rabbits die?


It’s the Mayo Clinic haze.  It’s the first thing that hit me when I realized we were going and it remains hanging over our time as if I didn’t drink enough caffeine and I’m still trying to wake up.  Or maybe I hit my head on one of those marble pillars that support the elevator system between the Mayo and the Gonda building.  Sometimes my head throbs like I did.

Our first visit with Doctor Milone didn’t reveal much.  She sent Ian through the paces and gathered all the info from the previous tests that he has undergone.  She ordered more tests and a return visit on Friday.  The following days were a series of tests, not too intense, aside from the EMG on Thursday morning and a physical strength test on Friday that will have Ian wiped out for several days.

Ian’s sisters, Mary Heather and Rebecca came and spent almost the entire four days with us.  It was special to have them there.  They helped to cheer us on and cheer us up during the waiting times.

At one point I sat in the waiting room and looked over and saw another young couple sitting together.  He was the one there for an appointment and she sat next to him silently crying.  We didn’t get a chance to talk to them as we were called away to our appointment but it struck a cord in my heart.  So many, many, many ill people come and go through the halls of Mayo.  Each one is there seeking answers to some of life’s biggest questions.  Just like Ian’s little brother Clyde asked Ian last night.  “Ian, why do rabbits die?”  There is much in that simple question.  Hopes and dreams of today and tomorrow tied up and left to the inconsistencies of life.  And what is God saying in all of this?  I find the only place to rest is at the feet of the One who says, “I change not.”

Doctor Milone asked us if we wanted to go ahead and pursue a MRI and yet another muscle biopsy.  Why not?  Because it might reveal an incurable muscle disease.  So we ask, we wonder.  We hold tight to each other through the haze, and through the tears.  And like I read on the back of a pink sweatshirt that walked by, “Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

We’re home from Mayo for the weekend and we’ll head back up again on Tuesday.  Most likely for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Not much


We left the house this morning around 9:15 and headed north towards Rochester MN.  God blessed us with safety travelling despite the fact that I felt sleepy most of the way.  We were also blessed with friends who offered their van so that we could bring all of our trappings along and Ian could also stretch out and find some level of comfort along the way.

The doctor saw us and after hearing our story, doing a physical, and looking through our stacks of paperwork, sent us home for the night.  In the morning we’re lined up to have yet another EMG, yeah, one of those, and then we’ll see the doctor again.  The Hoovers have been so sweet and made us feel comfortable in their home.  Ian is currently sacked out on their lounge chair, trying to relax a bit.

On other news, the test results came back from the blood work that was sent to Boston the beginning of October.  They came back negative for myotonic dystrophy so we have yet one more thing we can check off the ‘negative’ list.

Friday, October 25, 2013

And off to Mayo we go



Wednesday I found myself reading a text message from Ian, 

“Mayo appointment Oct 29 at 2:15… :)”  

 This is something we’d been hoping and praying for now for quite some time.  I was both excited as well as scared.  The doctors at Iowa City are struggling to know what Ian’s illness is called. We thought it was mitochondrial myopathy but then they decided that the muscle biopsy was not definitive enough for this type of diagnosis.  Another test they took was for myotonic dystrophy.  The results won’t be back for a while they said.

In the mean time, after waiting sometimes for weeks to hear from the doctors to know what to do next, we were encouraged to look into possibly going to Mayo.  There is a Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN about four hours from our house.  The doctor at Iowa City was willing to refer us.  They set up an appointment for December the 12th and said we could call twice a week between now and then to see if there were any cancellations.  The first time Ian called they told us they had an opening for the very next week.  They told us to plan to be there for five to seven business days.  I’m not quite sure what to expect since every other doctor visit we’ve been to in the past has always resulted in them not being able to find anything.  Maybe we’ll still be there next year? Maybe we should look for a house near by to live in?  Maybe rent is cheaper in Rochester?  I doubt it.  But sometimes I think about it.   

Once again I’m awed by the support coming from the Body of Christ.  Within just a few hours of finding out that we needed to go to Mayo, someone gifted us with a nights stay at a hotel and through several other connections we now have a place to stay that is quite near the Clinic.  We feel blessed by such generosity and we continue to feel God’s presence very close despite living in our broken world.

Thank you for your continued love, support and prayers.  Next week looks overwhelming to me but I know that with God's grace, we'll find His face in the midst of the week of challenges.