Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Adjustments

Alone
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Vincent van der Pas

My parents' friend Gary Bulloch says this true thing--"Life is a series of adjustments."

We adjust from childhood to puberty, from young adulthood to marriage, from marriage to parenthood, from parenthood to empty nesting, and from empty nesting to the winter years of life with lots of adjusting in between. It seems like the moment we find our groove, the music changes and we have to adjust again. 

I hesitate to say I'd become comfortable with illness. (It's difficult to become comfortable with a disease which tries to kill you on a regular basis.) But being sick was my normal. 

A few weeks ago when I began to heal, Tim, a new friend of mine told me I wouldn't heal all at once because everyone around me had to adjust to the fact that their wife/daughter/mother/friend was getting better. And he's right. But they're not the only ones.

I'm adjusting, too.

It's kind of surreal that three months ago I was a shut in and now I'm going to events. 





Note: Project 41's White As Snow gala went very well, the most successful gala to date. We learned a lot, raised support for the ministry, and yes--I ate the food (!!!!!) Side effects were extremely mild. The night was a personal celebration for my family and me. 

Remember this poem I wrote a year ago?:

Some diseases are a death sentence.
Some are a life sentence.
Which is easier to bear?
A small cell or the chair?
A cage or a casket?
No one knows
and both are hard
on the sick one and the watchers.
Some of us die in here,
but I believe
there is a key
for me,
an early release.
Or so I've been told
by the Prison Ward
who is kind and good and wise and hard.
The door will open
when the cell has done its work
and the bars have made me free.
Or so I believe.
But all I see
are steel and concrete.
Spare walls and a lonely lock
mock my faith.
I smell sky and pine.
Sun shafts through the window.
Voices chuckle and cluck,
a murmur through stone,
a reminder of what I'm missing,
a promise of what's to come.
But the Warden visits me--
and this place has be-come
Home.
"For a while," He corrects.
So I believe.  


Well, the cell has done its work, apparently. The bars have made me free. The Warden has thrown open the prison gates, and while He hasn't exactly tossed me out, it's very clear He doesn't expect me to stay inside. Nor do I want to. I'm ready to bust outta here, yo!

But there's this very real rehabilitation period to contend with. 

I'm learning to live in the world again. (There are people out here!) I'm asking big questions. (i.e. "What now?") I'm doing things. Going places. It's weird.

And my body hasn't quite caught up with my to-do list. 

  Lazy monkey
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Alan Bloom

These days I'm either enjoying my freedom or recovering from it.


Chronic fatigue, pain, and food sensitivities are still things as I pick up Micah from school, take Sara to her dance lesson, undertake my own housework, shop, go to church, visit with friends I haven't seen in forever, attend prayer meetings and events, and accept ministry opportunities. All in addition to what I was already doing.

Except I don't have much time to write. Not fiction anyway. My journal, however, sees lots of action. 

 I filled up this guy in two months!

Thus, my writing goals for the year may not be possible. 

I'm not complaining. I'm adjusting


It's difficult transitioning from a slow waltz (not that I've ever been that graceful) to a cha-cha. Even if the change is a blast. 

Moms, you know what I'm talking about. How great is it when your youngest transitions from two naps to one? But that free hour you had in the morning to drink coffee while it was still warm? Gone. Vamoose.

Or that moment you're done with diapers, but then you have to ask the kid whether or not she needs to pee every 15 minutes and haul her to the bathroom umpteen times a day whereas before you could change a diaper every three to four hours and you were good. (Yeah, I cried, too.)

C'est la vie. 

I LOVE the season I'm in, but it isn't easy. 

 

What do people expect of me now that I'm out and about? What does Brandon expect? What do the kids expect? What do I expect?

Does a writing career still fit into my life? I hope so. I want it to. But for now I feel that living real life is more important than writing made up life, and I don't have energy to do both. 

Most importantly, what does God expect of me? 

The Lord hasn't given me a copy of A Former Shut-In's Guide to Engaged Living in 5 Easy Steps. For now, I have only three hints to go on, and none of them are cut and dried:

1) "And she served them" (Mark 1:31). When Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, she didn't stay in bed. She got up and served Him. 

This is the word the Lord gave me in 2012 not long after my illness began to really present itself. This last chapter of my story was always going to end with my healing. I was given my marching orders three years before it happened. Service, not ease, is God's expectation of me. Of course, service can wear many hats. 

My family is the most important recipient. It's time to seize the things sickness stole from me. It's time to show up, take some of the enormous burden Superman has carried on his shoulders these long years, and clean my own bathrooms for goodness' sake. (God bless my mother in law for keeping my house from falling to chaos. Debbie Keaster, you are THE BEST.)

2) Limits. Everybody loves boundaries. Even kids. We think we don't, but we do. Limits make us feel safe. 

God has flung open the doors of my cage, and I'm so thankful. There's also a part of me that's glad I still have to count spoons. Because it reminds me--"I can do anything, but not everything."

When I was a prisoner, I talked about all the things I wanted to do when I was free. I wanted to sing in a choir again. I wanted to join that Flannery O'Conner short story class at Auburn Avenue. I wanted to be involved with this ministry and that ministry. Oh! And that one! I wanted to take Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Micah. I wanted to teach music lessons, offer cooking classes, and write novels. 

Yeah, right. 

I'm pretty sure the limits of 24 hours in a day and I don't know...SLEEP may disallow all that nonsense. Not that any of those things would be a bad way to spend time...unless I tried to do it all. 

Most days, I manage the things I was doing before I was better (child-rearing, cooking, dishes, laundry, homework, baths, bedtime routine, etc.), a little exercise, and maybe one outing before I'm ready to crash. 

Mondays are my rest days. On Monday, I. just. can't. (See monkey picture above.) I'm done. Stick a fork in me, and whatever you do, don't ask me to do anything extra.

3) A magic thread. In George MacDonald's fantasy for children, The Princess and the Goblin, Princess Irene is given a ring by her fairy godmother. Attached is a magic thread which is promised to always lead her safely back to her fairy godmother. 

One night, goblins enter little Irene's bedroom. She puts on the ring and follows the thread outside into the mountain wilderness, trusting it to guide her into the arms of her godmother. When it leads her into the dark caves, which are home to the goblins, she doubts and tries to feel her way backward. But behind her, the thread disappears. She can only go forward.

So onward she goes--through darkness, danger, and even a wall of rock--until she finds her friend Curdie who is held prisoner by the goblins. Irene rescues Curdie, and leads him out of the caves. At the end of her thread, she finds her godmother, as promised. 

God has given a magic thread to every believer. His name is the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit knows the mind of the Father, who has written my story. He leads me where I should go. Many times, I don't understand where He leads, but if I will hang on and press on, I'll find my way. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to lead a Curdie or two to the safety of God's arms along the way.

I appreciate your prayers as I adjust. 


I'm so happy right now. It may seem I don't need prayer. That assumption is incorrect.

I have so many questions. I don't know where the thread is taking me, and my feet are dragging half the time. I long to write, but can't manage it, which is kind of frustrating. As I'm able to focus less on myself, my eyes open to the devastation around me. While the miracle does my family good, the last four years have also left a mark. We're all kind of damaged, and now it's time to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Reconstruction is hard work.

So yeah...keep praying! And thank you for all the prayers that have come before. I hope you, too, are reveling in the miracle God has performed. You're part of it, after all. I hope it reveals an attribute of God you never noticed before, and leads you to marvel before His throne.

As I said to a friend this morning, prayer is never wasted time. And it's the perfect answer to every adjustment life throws at us.









3 comments:

Talena Winters said...

Slow progress is still progress. You've only got your kids when they're small for a few years. It can be frustrating at times, but whenever you think of all those things you are putting aside right now to focus on living, remember you are doing the right thing. Your schedule will open up much sooner than you realize and the wiring career? It can start then. Unlike modeling or professional sports, there is no age limit on when you can begin making stuff up for a living. :-) Hugs and prayers, girl.

MelissaKeaster said...

Right you are! It's comforting that we can't get to old to write and age only seasons what we write. It's also a good reminder that babes grow too fast and should be enjoyed as long as they'll let us enjoy them. Thank you. *hugs*

Ms. A said...

It's been wonderful hearing about all the progress! Onward and upward!