"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Years Resolutions

I typically don't do New Year's Resolutions. In the past, for as long as I can remember, I asked God to give me a word for the New Year. It would be something that I should focus on throughout the year.

This year, I decided I would continue with that, but that it also might be time to give the whole New Year Resolution thing a try. But I can't chose just one thing on which to focus. Once I got started, there were several things that I wanted to work on and accomplish.

I realized in other areas of my life, I  have always made lists. Well, I have made lists in these later years, at least. They help me remember what needs to be done, yes. But they also help me feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I like that "checked off" feeling, so it inspires me to do everything on the list. In fact, I cannot rest until everything on the list is done. Some of that perfection stuff, or Monk stuff...or maybe just plain crazy stuff that resides within me. Anyway, I have to get it done. Soooo, I decided I would make a list and call it "New Year's Resolutions" and see if I can accomplish any of it this year...this month...this week? How far will I go?   

It all seems forever away, but we know how fast a year can go. Maybe I will add some things to this list, if I think of anything else. But this is it for now. And actually, I doubt I can even fit it all in, this year, when I think of all this entails.

  • Lose Weight - get back to the weight I was at the kids' wedding.
  • Spoil my animals, while I still have them.
  • Clean and organize computers
  • Organize all photos
  • Organize books
  • Clean out back room of house
  • Clean out Folks' storage
  • Organize Items that are not mine, but that I am in possession of.
  • Pray more
  • Study more
  • Ride More
  • Pause more
  • Read more
  • Write more
  • Scrapbook
  • Photography -  maybe a new camera
  • Work more in yard, garden and barn
  • Make a She-shed in barn. Spend more time there.
  • Organize the memory items I have kept of Matt's. In short, organize everything!
  • Throw out...minimize...make room for life.
  • Be kinder, gentler, slower.
I found myself already beginning the organizing stuff. New Years Eve day, I was already going through a few items that have been carelessly stored for months now. Organizing is really on my heart, in fact I woke up to that word this morning. I hope I can do it. I have a hard time throwing things out.

Diet starts today, because I cheated on New Years Eve and the day before, knowing the end was near.
(Side Note: I wrote this January 2nd, but didn't get it posted until today. So far, in the weight category, I have gone up and down, up and down with 3 - 4 pounds.)

So there it is. Let's see how far I get with any of it. - ORGANIZE!



Friday, January 5, 2018

You Ole Crook!

Mama -  I was so thankful for a day at home and a chance while working at menial jobs to think about my mom. Well if you can call shoveling out two automobiles from several feet of snow, menial. But a multitude of memories came to mind throughout the day.

When my work was done and I finally had a moment to sit before the fire with a cup of coffee, I reached for the recent Decision magazine that had just come. But instead the little matchbox holder on my fireplace caught my eye. I  looked at the worn red holder and couldn't help but reflect once again. I had decided to keep this little container for my own when I moved my folks out of their home. It was old fashioned and now rare; one that my dad had in the basement, work room of our home with the wood stove. I knew where he had gotten it; it was my Grandpa P's and I am pretty sure it was hanging in Grandpa's wood shed for as long as I remember...all the years of my childhood.

That led to more thoughts of my mom. Yep, I knew why this was happening throughout the day. She had been on my mind when things were finally a bit slow for me....well not so much slow, (shoveling snow, you know) but free to do my own work at home rather than something for someone else. Oh wait! They aren't my automobiles. ;-) But you know what I mean. Being outside and working on my own, (and truthfully, releasing some anger) finally gave my mind time to unwind and to think, to process and to remember. And those thoughts were to continue at rest as well.

But now, I want to write about some of these memories - not really for anyone, but myself. Some day, if I were ever to forget, I can look back and remember. The memory will be written down. I think that's ok. For those reading, I suppose I use my blog, too much as a journal. Anyway, I digress.

Something I have thought about writing about in a blog post for some time is the hanger on my dishwasher. My mom made it for me, several years ago so that I could know whether my dishes were clean or dirty in my dishwasher. It says "Clean" on one side and "Dirty" on the other. It is so cute!! But my mom felt bad when I got a new dishwasher and there was no longer a place to hang it. Later, she bought me a little magnetic hook. It sounds silly, but at the time, I didn't know what the hook was for. It was a busy time, I suppose, and I never made the connection. Mama was so pleased when she gave it to me, just assuming I would know the purpose. I thanked her for it, but I really never understood. It wasn't until shortly after she passed away that I looked at that little hook that I had placed on my refrigerator and it hit me like a ton of bricks. That hook was for my "Clean/Dirty" sign!!! How could I not know that!! Oh Mama, I am so sorry! I probably didn't thank you properly either! In that moment, I moved the hook to my dishwasher and quickly placed the little "Clean/Dirty" sign on it!

As you can see in the photo, it works perfectly! I hung the "Clean" side for this photo. Mama would like that better. ;-) And truthfully, as bad as I feel about not understanding, I think my mama would be getting a good laugh at me finally realizing what it was for. And that makes me smile.

Another treasured memory is my knitted green slippers that covered my feet as I sat in front of the fire. For years Mom would make me slippers, whenever I let her know I needed a new pair. They were a treasure for me then!! I loved her slippers best. But when we moved to our new home, (well over a decade ago, now) the carpet was much worse for wear and tear on my slippers than at our other home. So I wore through them faster, but she was always ready to make me a new pair. This pair of slippers she kept for me at her home so there would be something for me to put on while I worked there or had to spend the night there. She kept them just for me...

"Don't let anyone else wear them, ok, Mom?" I had asked when I told her I wanted to leave them there at her house. Whenever I would arrive, she would say, "Do you want your slippers?" And she would go fetch them from her closet where they were placed away just for me. She wanted me to know, no one else had worn them. That was my mama. Wanting to please her kids and do for us whenever she could and however we liked. I don't wear my slippers all the time anymore. I want them to last as long as possible. This is the last pair I have that she made that remain without holes.

So there...there are a few of the types of memories working through my thoughts as I worked today, but also as I sat down to rest.

So like I said, as I got comfortable in my chair to read, my mama popped back into my mind - the matchbox holder, the catalyst this time. As my heart grew heavy again, I realized at moments like these, I need to start thinking of her in Heaven instead of reliving all these memories that make me so sad. Now I think those memories are good for me too, at times. But sometimes it is time to think of something to alleviate the grief.

Picture her in Heaven. It was like God spoke this to my heart. And so I did...and my first thought was of how happy she must have been seeing her folks again. I immediately pictured her with them. How she loved her dad! I was reminded of the special relationship they had. They would be playfully bantering with each other, now together again, I thought. And I pictured my grandpa sitting in his big easy chair, gently tapping the leather arm with his fingers, rolling them from his little finger to his index finger. He sat with a content smile on his face. Then all of a sudden in ran my mama, pretty and vibrant and young.

"Well, you ole crook!" She verbally jostled with him while laughing from deep within.

And right then, I knew this was a moment sent by God to comfort me. I hadn't thought of that phrase in years. In fact, I am sure I had forgotten all about it. It was what my grandpa would say to people as a greeting. And people who knew him, said it back to him as well. Well, especially my mama. It was their way of affection in greeting each other.

Now if anyone has read this far, don't misunderstand. I am not advocating being able to see into Heaven, or any communication from the dead, or anything weird like that. I simply think this was a gentle reminder from God, that everything is ok. And yes, God does that. My mama is good. She is in Heaven, with Jesus and with people she loves. The phrase simply made it real for me. It let me know this was a caring word from God.

I started to cry. Grateful for the memory, grateful for a time to reflect; grateful for healing tears, and most of all grateful for the assurance that my mama is doing far better than what I focus on here - that she is gone from my presence. She is that - gone. But she is far better. She is with Jesus and also with that man she lovingly called an "ole crook". And that makes me smile...through tears, but I smile.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Disappearing Sunsets

The Long Goodbye. It was the title that finally drew me into reading this book by Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's second daughter.  I didn't want to read it for the longest time, because I didn't like Patti Davis. In fact, she talks about me in her book. Well, at least people like me - those that have never wanted to listen to what she has to say because of her past, her politics and her disrespect of her father. I couldn't imagine there would be anything worthy that she would have to say. This book was written in 2004 just after her father's death. It was December, 2017 when I finally relented and was drawn in by the title to see what it was she wanted to tell America. Because of her known past politics and my continued belief that she isn't a Christian, I proceeded with caution.

It was a short, easy read and actually beautifully written. Patti has a passion for writing and it shows. There were things I loved about the book and some things which I didn't agree. But I found nothing that I hated like I thought I would. I was wrong about what I thought she would write.  

There were two things I was struck by most profoundly. One was Patti's obvious deep remorse at the way she behaved during her father's Presidential term. She berated him, stood with his "enemies", loathed his policies and campaigned against him. There was a chasm between her and her parents miles wide and every bit as deep. I remember her during these years and I often wondered then, as did most Americans who followed politics, how in the world a daughter could do this to her father. It was heart-breaking. But just as heart-breaking all these years later is her very apparent remorse over it. Thank God a healing transpired from those terrible years with his daughter, before the president died. He knew it and she needed it.

The other thing that was so vividly apparent throughout the entirety of her writing was her father's deep Christian faith and love of our Lord. Now I always knew Ronald Reagan was a Christian. I never for one moment believed it was for show, like so many other politicians like to pretend. Most American politicians, even still today, know they must show a respect for God and the Bible if they are to get anywhere in the world of politics. Faith in God is still deeply ingrained into our culture regardless of what a biased, liberal  media wants us to believe. We want our politicians to have faith; therefore sometimes we see phony faith. I knew this was never the case with President Reagan. I did not know, however, just how rooted his faith actually was. And never in my wildest imagination did I believe Patti Davis would ever write about that faith. I was wrong. She did and she did it beautifully.

Now I have no idea if Patti Davis has ever made a commitment to Jesus, our Lord. I have no idea what is in her heart. With some, like Ronald Reagan, it is apparent. But there are some I would never venture to judge. I guess Patti Davis would be in that category. I believe she is wrong about certain things, but what I do know, is her father taught her about Jesus and she listened and remembers fondly the important things he taught her. This faith and our God permeated this book from start to finish. It was the paramount subject of her book if one is to read carefully and acutely her words.

With that preface, now I just want to talk about her book; the things I gleaned from it, and why I finally picked up the book in the first place. And probably a bit about my own experiences.

Alzheimer's - The Disease that Steals

As I said earlier, it is the title The Long Goodbye  that was mostly what drew me to this book. The other, was the man - Ronald Reagan. I knew of his long battle with Alzheimer's and I wanted to see how the family dealt with this dreadful disease. And now I would like to share a few messages that I gleaned from this book.

One came early in the second chapter. Patti speaks of ones memory having "pockets of time" that are unaffected by this disease. For her father, these pockets held hymns and prayers, probably Bible verses as well. Below is what she said when she had observed him perfectly citing the Lord's Prayer one day while sitting in church:

" They are his treasures; they always have been - the shiny stones he turns over in his hand, keeping them polished and smooth. I closed my eyes for a moment as I sat between my parents and prayed that he will always be able to recite the Lord's Prayers, always recall a hymn. I asked God to keep his treasures safe."

In the same chapter, she speaks of making friends with death. I am not in agreement with her on this. One of the things that made me slightly cringe while reading was her source and her feelings that death is our constant companion that travels on our left shoulder.

"I feel, in my conversations with my mother that we are both making friends with this shadowy presence, this unwelcome guest. Because the enemy-the true messenger of terror-would be the full progression of Alzheimer's. I never want to see the day when my father stands up in church and is unable to remember the Lord's Prayer. I would rather watch him turn toward his left shoulder and say, "All right, I'm ready now."

Now that is exactly how I feel, except rather than see him look to his left shoulder at death, I would want to see him reach his hands toward heaven and say those words. "All right, I am ready now."

Still, there is a powerful lesson in her story when one feels one is spinning out of control headed down a drain of dementia or Alzheimer's and losing all that one wants a loved one to hold on to.  

Something else she wrote, I clung to not so much because it was about the President's disease, but rather it was about how he lived his life. It was especially touching to me, because it was a lesson my dad had also taught me. Patti had asked her mom, Nancy Reagan, how her dad could have come through all the antics of Hollywood and then DC with his "innocence still intact".

"He never really participated in the Hollywood lifestyle....He did his work and left. He kept his dreams alive, and his innocence, by never giving too much away, by holding enough of himself in reserve so that no one could tarnish what he held dear."

Now there is some sage advice. It was exactly how my parents lived their lives. They never allowed anyone to tarnish what they held dear. Oh, if we could only teach our children to live in this way. But not only does one need to hold oneself in reserve, one also needs to be prepared to stand, all the while understanding the balance that is required as well. Ronald Reagan did and so did my folks. Never give too much away of oneself - there will come a time one needs something for oneself.

Achans in the Camp

One thing Patti wrote that I strongly disagree with is something that may not be all that important, but it is important to me. And I will admit it is controversial. Patti says in her final chapter that she believes it is no accident who is there in the final moments when someone dies. She had often wondered who it would be in the room when her dad took his last breath. She believes it to be ordained of God. I suppose there is some truth in her belief, but I also believe that this is something that could be controlled by someone, or even stolen from another. This can be human directed and orchestrated; by a medical team, by family, or anyone who chooses to take things into their own control. It can change everything for someone, while another may pride themselves that they were the ones that got to be there.

There are some things in life that just are not that concrete, though we like to pretend they are. Some Christians believe God pulls every little string to make things happen as He wants. I don't believe that and never have. The truth is we live in a fallen world. People's actions change things through choices they make, but we like to say it is God. Not necessarily. Just as Achan stole from the camp and it effected the whole camp, (Joshua 7) things are stolen from our lives every day. It is mostly due to man's fallen nature. The very biggest and most important part of God's sovereignty is the free will. Yes, His giving of free will is the biggest part of His sovereignty and in that, we do things all the time to mess up God's plan. Fortunately what Satan meant for evil God can turn to good. I say that here only to say God is not the author of all that is so difficult in our lives. I just don't believe it. Never have and never will. I really do not understand how the world would not be angry at God if it were any other way. Our own choices through our own free will is the only answer for those who question the atrocities of life.

And honestly the other thing is we forget that God has created an order to things. Some things are simply occurring within that order. Like gravity and the laws of nature. Those are God's design; He will not change those things outside of a miracle.

The Finish Line

One of the most difficult things for me in this book, was Patti's observation about how the Reagan family journeyed into accepting and even looking for the death that would inevitably come. There is guilt that comes from wanting the release; desensitization that comes from having to consider it, discuss it, think about it and sometimes even long for the end to come to free a loved one from his pain. Patti began to look at it as a beginning. There is nothing wrong in that. But the waiting, the anxiety, the fear and exhaustion...the guilt from looking at death as a release can be overwhelming. It simply feels wrong, like there is something wrong with you! But for Patti and the Reagan family they came to understand that the only way to maintain dignity "with a disease like Alzheimer's is if death beats it to the finish line." In that case, there is nothing wrong with wanting death to win...especially when one knows where the loved one is going...if we truly believe that.

It is normal to have guilt for wanting sweet release; craving an easy passage. Guilt seems normal in not knowing how to pray that through. What a challenge that presents.

I don't claim to understand all there is about Alzheimer's. I suppose I have been only remotely connected with it. But it helps to read another's words who has been dealt the blow of the declining health of parents and who has experienced the same difficult tasks and feelings. I get a bit frustrated with those that think they understand Alzheimer's well, unless they have actually taken care of someone with Alzheimer's. And that means their day in and day out care....most often for years! One cannot grasp the full weight of that burden from 1000 miles away and a weekly phone call or two.

Patti Davis obviously understood it. She understood it as a daughter losing her father, and one that was able to be there more often than most people who may have family on one coast with the other party on the other coast. Patti was fortunate that her dad had the best care that money could buy, so I suspect she and her family missed a lot of worry that money affairs might also bring into the equation. Needless to say Alzheimer's is an extremely difficult disease on a number of levels. Thank God for the things that make it easier. 

Her writing doesn't tell us that much about the disease or the trials it entails. Her words are more a tender portrayal of what it feels like to lose someone you love. Therein is the importance of this book, in my opinion. It is definitely worth the read, on so many levels. Patti Davis can write. And in her writing she provokes thought. But most of all, whether she intends to or not, she shares God; and the faith of a man who understood God as the most important part of his being. Jesus is the only thing that gets us through any of the difficulties in life.

I guess I don't know if everything is truly healed for Patti Davis. I hope so. But I found myself wondering why she took her mother's maiden name rather than her father's, showing a lack of pride and maybe even disdain for his highly respected name. I suspect she took her mother's name in anger during those terrible, rebellious years, but I don't understand why she would not want to honor her father's name now and take it as her own as author of this book. She still is unable to understand her father's politics. Unable to admit she was wrong about any part of hers, - even after all the great things this man did for our nation...proving his politics were most certainly correct. She still maintains she differs. That's ok, I guess if she is trying to stay true to who she believes she is. But she is wrong about who America is and has always been throughout our history. Though she now has a respect and love for America's people because of what she saw at her father's death, she still believes the false narrative that America is an Imperialistic nation trying to control the world. That is, she believed it at the time she wrote this book, maybe that has changed by now, as well. But all that aside, there is no doubt she loved her dad and the moments she had with him in his final days should be enviable for us all. Truly she has remorse for lost moments and she wants people to understand that. I suspect she hopes to prevent that from happening to others.

The Journey of Decline

Neither of my folks had/have Alzheimer's, but I believe any decline in a parent is a difficult passage. As with any aging person my folks have had some of the same ailments - hearing loss, loss of memory, difficulty in finding the right words, other communication problems and trouble with fine motor skills. Most of those are normal to aging, but they still present a challenge for both parties - the caregiver and the patient.

Most of the duties in taking care of my folks in their latter days has fallen to me and my older sister, i.e. doctor appointments, medical needs, bills, banking...stuff like that. Thank God I have a sister who also helps with daily care. Some families are all alone. Some parents are all alone. There is so much heartbreak in that. My sister and I try to bring everyone in the family into any important decisions that need to be made. My parents wanted that. But ultimately we are still orchestrating their lives by their own rules and preferences. We have always done what they wanted and expected.

Sometimes their needs are at odds with our own lives; it often interrupts, adds stress, and takes away time from our own families. Sometimes it is middle of the night ER calls. Sometimes it is simply an outing to try to bring some fun back into their lives. It often involves explaining and smoothing rough waters. Lately, it is difficult to know where to draw the line of how much we should do. Where should the sacrifice end when ones own family is suffering? Those are the difficult questions of late. We are tired, too. Sometimes I feel robbed of the soothing salve of grief that I should be able to have in the loss of my mom. The weight of it all is pressing down more and more. Life in general is becoming more and more arduous.

Through it all, sometimes I have been too busy doing all the necessary work for their care that I have forgotten to enjoy the moment. That is something that I regret in the case of my mom. Like Patti, I have regrets, too. Now that it is only my dad, I still forget to enjoy those moments. It is certainly not intentional. It is simply the busyness of the job. I forget to remember the man my dad once was. I forget to pray that he will never forget the words to a favorite hymn, like Patti prayed. I forget to look at his hands and remember the strength that was once held there. I forget to hold onto the sparkle of a laugh that reflects in his mostly now tired eyes. I hurry about. I die within. I lose patience and stumble over words and make things worse. I say "huh" too many times, frustrating him, when it may be better to simply let him believe that I heard and that I agree. I cannot enjoy the moment, because I do not know what is next and I don't know if I will have strength for whatever it is. I forget to take a "drink from my canteen" while on this journey, but sometimes it is only because I don't know where to find the dang canteen. Sometimes I shake it, only to find it empty.

I don't think Patti had to deal with the day to day challenges like my sister and I have had to. Her dad was on one coast and she was on the other. But what I do know, is in the pages of that book she revealed the best of who her father was. There is not one negative word about him. There is nothing that is disrespectful, no secrets revealed, no lines crossed, the world is not let into what the world should not know. I have the utmost respect for her for that. That is true love. Her remorse is palpable, but more than that, so is her love.

Disappearing Sunsets

One of the most poignant moments for me, is when Patti tells us that she is a child of a man who believed in pausing for sunsets. He demonstrated this to her often throughout their life together. Remembering that, in a final moment of her dad's life she paused on the beach to watch a sunset and say a prayer for her dad. "Help me make my father's passage easy," she prayed.     

I want that for my dad's life, too. I desperately want his passage easy. But also, I want "pausing for sunsets" to be part of my life, just as it was for Ronald Reagan's. There is goodness in that. I really believe that. I don't think I learned this as a child like Patti did. I do believe I finally learned it from my son. "Come see the sky, Mama", he would often say to me. "Look at the fingernail moon, Mom," he would call. Throughout his life as a child at home he would encourage me to slow down and look - to pause to enjoy the beauty of the moment. I always stopped to look when he called. It is the one thing I feel I did right. But I haven't done it enough of late. I am in a hurry. I run and don't feel. I am tired and frazzled and trying to get too much done in too little time. Life is passing me by; decisions are many and sometimes they begin to feel undirected and difficult. I hate that! The lack of control of my own life is something I must guard against resentment. Resentment is what "sits on my left shoulder" and I am not about to make friends with him. I continue to try to swat him away.

But mostly, I want to be someone who pauses for sunsets, like Ronald Reagan was. I want to teach that to others, like our 40th President did and like his daughter Patti Reagan Davis speaks of in her book. One thing we know; most of the time, when we run for the camera to catch the beauty in the early evening sky, by the time we get back the sunset has changed and almost gone in just seconds of time. Sunsets disappear just that quickly. I want to learn to pause and soak it all in and say a prayer as Patti did on the beach that day. Because the sun is setting fast in the life of one I care about, but it is also setting in mine.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Weak

The weak require a sign. Look at all the people in the Bible that required a sign: Gideon; the Jews - even after seeing a miracle of Jesus feeding 5000. Yikes! I do NOT want to be one of those people...especially after seeing Truth.

But yeah, most often that would be me - I need a sign. Maybe not so much in the past, but definitely feeling the need, of late. A sign, please...that You are still there, or at least that You haven't forgotten me.

Oh in truth, I guess maybe I have always tried to see signs from God. Haven't we all? Not that we should go out and seek them or get all weird about it. But I have always felt that God speaks to us through nature; certain birds or animals; or sometimes situations. You know what I am talking about- "God Winks" they have sometimes been called,.

I don't think I ever look for them when I am at my lowest, but every once in a while they are just there and I know that I know that I know (hate that expression) that they are from God.

I have been feeling particularly tired the past few months...uh...maybe the past few years...the last decade...if truth be told.  But last week, after 3  or 4 midnight calls in as many days, to the emergency room for a loved one, I was feeling pretty drained. Finally after a hospital admittance and a long day at the hospital talking to doctors and nurses; making decisions, and blah, blah, blah, I was on my way home feeling pretty dismayed. God must hate me, I have been telling myself a little more often...yeah, yeah, I know...please don't preach at me - even if only to yourself, beyond the computer screen. ;-) Anyway, below was my thought process on my drive home from the hospital...

I hate this highway. I hate it with every fiber of my being. I hate the traffic lights, the rude drivers, and I hate all the moments it has stolen from my life. I hate it especially at rush hour traffic. Why am I sitting in this mess once again? The only way I hate it more is after a long day in the hospital talking to doctors and nurses and people who have to pretend they care. And on top of it all, wondering what in the world I am going to be exposed to. Oh wait! There is one way I hate this highway more...with all of that PLUS a first snow fall where people act like they have never in their life ever driven before. Yes...this would be my own personal hell. If God truly hated me and wanted to cast me into judgment, it might as well be here.

So that was my thinking. ALL. THE. WAY. HOME.

Once home, first thing on my agenda was a hot shower. Got to get rid of all those germs before I touch anything. Yes! I know! Some of that would be "Monk" style thinking. I am seeing signs of me becoming Monk, more and more and more. Don't care. I live by "Better to be safe, than sorry." 

After a somewhat soothing, hot shower, I put on my jammies, and I quickly built a fire with hopes of maybe watching a Christmas movie, in my recliner, in front of the crackling fire. Next up - a meal. Left over mashed potatoes and gravy and a part of a piece of chicken left over from yesterday's long day in the hospital. And then! Lo and behold! Finally a little mercy showed up; my husband gave up the show he was watching probably thinking Sean Hannity was on my mind.

Just as I settled in, the phone rang. I was needed back at the hospital. Alrighty, then. At least I had finished my meal. I quickly got dressed without fixing my hair and makeup. The second storm of the season had moved in after a long dry spell. I wasn't particularly looking forward to a drive back into town on slick roads. I have wimped out on snowy roads in my aging abilities.

"You want to go for a drive?" I asked my husband hoping for a chauffer on this snowy night.

"Not really," was his only response.

So I left without saying more.

The car was still warm, but I was definitely not trying to count my blessings at this time. I was able to get a text off for an explanation to my sister. But that was getting messy too. I finally just opted for "Please don't text anymore. I am driving now and the roads are slick."

So highway, you are mine once again. I was in full questioning-God-mode at this time. A few days ago, I had watched the movie "Hacksaw Ridge" and it too was on my mind. SIDE NOTE: Yes, I highly recommend this movie. And I apologize in advance for the violence. Mel Gibson produced it. Take that into consideration.

But anyway, back to my drive. Below is my thought process on this drive back into town:

I was thinking of the moment in the movie when Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, as a medic, had helped so many people and was finally left alone, wounded on the battle field (in spirit if not body) and he cried out in desperate anguish. "Lord, what is it you want of me?"

When I watched the movie that night, that line, that moment, that anguish hit my heart like a million arrows and I burst out in an avalanche of tears. Hiding my face with my blanket from my family members watching the movie with me, I was devastated for the man in the movie - the real life hero - but, I had been asking that same question myself for some time. Trying to understand the pain and discouragement I have been feeling the last few years, I woefully admit there are times I have been mad at God. It was the connection in those words that brought my tears. But no, I am certainly not comparing myself to Private Doss  - who he was as a person; or the heroics of his actions. But we all have our own circumstances that are our own personal battle. And I know full well I don't have the strength of people like that Private. I am one of the weak. So no, lets not even go there with any comparisons. It was simply a question in a moment that I related to and that pierced my heart in understanding. And I am sure I would have more than likely stated it instead as "What in the heck is it that You want from me?"  I am one of the weak.

Well in this moment when Private Doss asked that question of God, he instantly knew. He heard the cries for help behind him and immediately understood what it was God wanted him to do. He went back to battle - alone. Tired and weak, but determined in the knowledge that God was with him. He saved 75 people from that ridge. Praying after each: "Lord, please just one more." Powerful! Watch it, but with viewer advisement. I covered my eyes and my son told me when to look and when not to. I am one of the weak.

Now getting back to that. I was reflecting on this movie during my drive and thinking about myself just wanting to have an answer too. What is it you want of me, Lord?  

I. AM. EXHAUSTED. My life is disappearing without any chance to live my own. Yes, I went there. And then next I reflected on Job.

"Is this Satan trying to get me to curse You?" I asked our Lord. "Well whatever, but like Job, did You happen to remind Satan not to take my life?" I don't feel done yet. I wondered all of it and yes, even actually asked God that question. And just like He always does, He corrected me...with a bit of humor. "Don't worry, Job was a righteous man. You have no where near his righteousness, but through Me." ;-) So don't worry, you ain't gonna suffer like Job"...is what I got out of His answer.

Pretty sure He was telling me, that no, I will not have the trials of Job, because we both know full well that I couldn't handle it.

And I actually smiled at the chastisement...for a moment.

Then I remembered! Wait! God didn't take Job's life, because God knew Job could handle the trials. Then there's me...the weak. Yikes! Maybe so! ;-) (This is where you should laugh.)

Sitting at a red light, I was pondering all these things. Cursing the drive back into town. Hating every second of this highway...in the snow and actually starting to believe God hates me.

A motion from the left caught my eye. The car sitting in the turn lane next to me was rolling down their back seat window. I looked up at the car, and knew immediately who it was. I laughed cause I knew there was no one in the back seat, but I was a half a car length behind them. They could speak more easily to me through the back window. I pulled forward a bit, and rolled down my own window. My daughter, riding shotgun, then rolled down hers.

"What are you doing?" they asked.

"Hospital." I answered. And I was able to say something funny to make them both laugh. I told them I loved them, before sending them on their way at the turn of the light.

There was my God Wink. Those two, "my bluebirds of happiness", if you will. And I knew immediately in that moment, God didn't hate me. Because he just gave me a sign to show His love. My kids. I needed a sign, because I am weak...and that is ok. God cares about the weak, too. I was thrown a buoy in my sea of despair and as I realized that I burst into tears. Those tears are getting to be my morning and evening norm...most often for despair as opposed to joyful tears like in this moment.

I would need that buoy for the rest of the evening. I rested on it, as I carried out the business of my hospital visit.

Finally, I was able to leave about 9:00 pm after visiting hours had been over for an hour. As I exited the elevator, I ran into my favorite doctor. I had already ran into this man at a previous visit and at another really low moment. At that time, he had immediately recognized me, paused to talk to me and ask about my loved one. He was my God Wink on that previous visit a day or two ago and I had had no doubt about it on that particular day. And now here he was again. He almost didn't recognize me this time. You know -  no hair and no makeup done. Yeah, even my best friends don't recognize me undone. But anyway, this man had saved my loved ones life a few months ago. And here he was again, encouraging me at a low moment. My second God Wink for the evening. God bless this man. I wish all doctors were like him - the best of the best.

After our visit, I got into my car and dropped off a quick text to tell a family member (you know, the "Please don't text" person I had been texting earlier) what had happened as I knew she would be wondering. As I exited the hospital parking lot, I could already tell the roads had improved while inside the building and I was able to count my blessings a bit better at this point. Not sure why at 9:30 pm the roads were better. The temperature hadn't warmed; I thought with the less traffic they would be icing up by now...I guess I caught the highway just in time. Another blessing.

I settled a little more peacefully into my drive home. Once I got through the 10 or so traffic lights I had to travel through, I decided to turn on my favorite country CD. My son has always jokingly called this country artist my "therapy". On my many stressed runs into town, when he was a teen, he would go out and warm up my car and I don't know how he did it, but he always managed to have the CD set to my very favorite song which he knew would immediately calm me down. It never failed it was always the first song on the player as I drove out of the driveway and it ALWAYS had a calming effect.

This is where you laugh.

A few years later a t-shirt came out that read: "I don't need therapy. I just need to listen to Alan Jackson." My son saw it and posted it to my Facebook page. We both got a good laugh about it. We had been doing that for years! Anyway, I digress here, just to explain the history about my "therapy". It makes us laugh to this day.                      

So I put on my therapy and settled in for the long drive home. And just as I was backing into my driveway, my favorite therapy song came on the CD. It was my third God Wink in a long, discouraging, exhausting day. A trifecta of winks? Third times a charm? I don't know. I guess God simply knew one wasn't enough on this day; nor was two, or three. I needed a bit more. And I guess He knew I would like that it was 3 and see it as a little extra boost. Cause I am the weakest of the weak.