Lessons From the Back Yard Walk

Sunday was a beautiful fall day here in Kansas.  We’ve enjoyed many gorgeous days recently.  Now the leaves are beginning to turn, the grass is browning in certain spots, and there’s just that autumn feel in the air despite the warm temperatures during the day. 

On Sunday afternoon, Aaron wanted to take a walk.  I thought about going to a nearby park, but I just didn’t feel like driving there.  I had things I needed to do at home, like wash Jackson’s bedding after bathing him outside…..and football, I’ll admit.  I was feeling a little guilty about not taking our walk in a park as Aaron and I set out to take a stroll around our back yard, Jackson trotting happily around us.  He loves taking walks, no matter where it is.  And our back yard is good for him with soft grass to pad his paws and to protect his aging joints.

Our back yard is large, so we have plenty of space to walk.  We can take our time….it’s rather secluded…..and we can sit on our picnic bench under the old oak tree as we relax near the end of our meandering.  Yet still I felt a little guilty for not getting out somewhere else.  It just seems more exciting to go to Swanson Park or Sedgwick County Park.  Staying at home feels a little dull…..a little common…..unfulfilling, in a way. 

Yet as Aaron and I walked, with Jackson sniffing all around and eating some of his favorite grass, I soon noticed some very pretty little lilac flowers growing near the area where our neighborhood lake backs into our property during the wet season.  It’s all dry now.  The frogs and turtles are not to be seen.  But these little lilac flowers were plentiful and pretty, grabbing my attention.  I stopped to admire them, pointing them out to Aaron. 

 

Then I saw these beautiful scarlet plants growing nearby, as we rounded the bend in the yard. 

 

And on the tree line were these berries, colored a soft blue, growing on our evergreens.

 

There were leaves turning a bright shade of yellow.

 

And red berries growing in abundance, reminding me of Christmas soon to come.

 

We worked our way up to the vegetable garden, which is normally gasping its last at this time of year.  And even though we were surrounded by brown ugliness, the remains of dead squash, and plentiful weeds, there were still signs of life and beauty when we took the time to pause and really look.

There was an okra bloom.

 

An eggplant still flowering.

 

Some tomatoes nestled away, ready for picking.

 

And the cutest little ladybug!

 

Aaron and I sat on the picnic bench for awhile, with Jackson still exploring and smelling everything of interest.  I loved the breeze, the smell of the air, and the time with Aaron.  As I sat there, I thought about how much beauty is in our old normal back yard.  We’re so used to it here that sometimes I don’t take the time to stop and really look around.  Time to really see what lovely blessings I have in our own plain back yard.  It’s really not necessary to think I must always go somewhere else for a fulfilling, beautiful walk when I can walk out my back door and see our own beauty right here.

Sometimes the mundane becomes just that……mundane.  I fail to look around and fully appreciate all the beauty that God has placed in my life.  I especially have those feelings during stressful times, or during times when I compare my life with others who seem to have it “better.”  We live in a world where we are bombarded with how the new and the different is what we need. 

Yet all around us, in our own lives, we can see wonderful things if we but pause and really look….if we look with open eyes and grateful hearts.  We don’t always need to have something bigger and better to be happy.  True contentment comes in being aware that we are just where God has placed us, for just this time in our lives, for the purpose of praising Him and showing others Who He is.  Pointing out God’s goodness and His grace as we walk in the mundane.

And the mundane will become a gorgeous display of God’s finest color in our lives!  For you see, nothing is mundane with God.  Even our lives, sometimes dreary and full of burdens, are a picture of the grace and beauty of God.  When we grasp that fact, then it’s easier to pause and see more of what’s in our own back yard.  There are simple, sweet pictures all around us of beauty and blessing if we but take the time to look…..to ponder…..to appreciate the usual as being the exception. 

I am truly a blessed and privileged person, every single day and in every single setting.  Home, hospital, doctor’s office…..alone or with others…..healthy or sick…..hungry or full……motivated or depressed. 

David said it perfectly in Psalm 34.  “O taste and see that the Lord is good!”  And again, “…they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”

Even in our own back yard!

 

Lessons From the Battered Pepper Plant

 

Weeks ago, we had a strong storm during the night.  It was a Kansas storm, full of bright lightning, loud thunder, and very strong winds.  When I was able to get out in the garden several days later, I was disappointed to find that my only pepper plant that had done any decent growing was now toppled over.  I stood there staring down at it as it lay on the nearby zucchini, whose leaves had also been tossed around during the same storm.  I stood there, tempted to just uproot the battered pepper plant and be done with it.

 

I bent over and gently lifted it, realizing then that the main stem of the pepper plant was unbroken and was still safely in the soil.  “Why not just leave it and see what it does?” I thought.  And that’s what I did.  I left it to grow if it would, knowing that if I messed with it and tried to bend it back up, I would just break it and kill it for sure.  So I let it remain where it was, bent over and not looking too promising at that point.

 

This past Saturday, I went out to the garden to harvest the last of the zucchini and squash.  They have now fallen prey to heat, lack of rain, and bugs.  Their brown vegetation only served to accentuate what I now found as I stared down at my pepper plant, still bowed down in the dirt.  Though my pepper plant was stooped low to the ground, its leaves were bright and green.  They were quite a contrast to the brown ugliness around them.  And there, under the leaves, were peppers……peppers that hadn’t been there when it first fell to the ground in the storm.  They had grown since the plant was blown over in the storm.  Firm, pretty green peppers that were the fruit of this plant that had been pummeled in the storm, yet still survived.  And not only survived, but was producing fruit there on the ground.

 

I don’t remember a time when I’ve seen so many people suffering in one form or another as I have in recent months.  I routinely communicate with or receive prayer requests from those dealing with serious health issues themselves or with someone they dearly love; others are going through divorce and single parenting; parents are struggling with children who are living apart from the Lord and how they were raised; others are very lonely and are feeling set apart; some are grieving the death of someone they love; and of course, I know many families who are weighted down by the particular challenges of raising a child with special needs.  So many heartaches from so much suffering!  What’s a person to do?  And primarily, what’s a follower of Christ to do?

 

James opened his book of the Bible with this very issue.  He didn’t waste time in laying the subject of suffering out on the table.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.”  James said what?  Consider it joy when we suffer?  I love that the word “various” here means “multi-colored.”  Doesn’t that describe our life’s struggles so well?  We all encounter many different forms of suffering in our lives on earth…..many multi-colored afflictions.  Sometimes I wish my life was a bland, constant egg shell color myself.  Yet we all know that bland isn’t how our walk on this earth turns out.

 

James goes on to tell his readers why we should consider our trials with joy.  He explains, “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

 

When James talks about testing producing endurance, he uses a Greek word that means to bear up as we abide under difficulties.  Notice the word “under.”  Not to bear up as the trials are removed, or the suffering is lessened, or the answers are made clear.  No, we are to endure UNDER the suffering…..while the suffering is going on in our lives.  Then James says that this endurance will produce maturity and full development…..its perfect and complete result in our lives.

 

Considering suffering to be joyful is not a trait that comes naturally.  How do we do that, anyway?  Like my pepper plant, down in the dirt and buffeted by the storm, we sometimes find ourselves bent over with the storms of life.  Tired, defeated, scared, and just lying in the dirt.  But our roots are in Christ, and it’s from Him that we draw the strength to “consider it all joy.”  We may not feel joyful on many days, but we can in obedience thank God for our trials and for what they are teaching us.  We can say the words even if we don’t feel it in our hearts.  That’s called faith.  Faith that God is indeed working all things out for our good.

 

I saw those green peppers growing on that pepper plant, despite its pitiful condition.  And despite my pain and my doubt, when I trust God with my situation and I praise Him in the storm, it won’t be long before I’ll also see fruit growing.  James talks about some of that fruit as he mentions maturity and development.  He also says that I will lack nothing.  My faith will grow, my thankfulness attitude will mature, my patience will increase, and peace will rule my heart.  Maybe not every second of every day, but for most of the time I’ll see the fruits of being joyful in the bent days of my life…..the hard times…..the days that seem unending.

 

Like the hymn writer said:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

 

When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.

 

 In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

 

On Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand.  All other ground is sinking sand.

 

So when we are tossed around by all that we meet in this life…..when we see for real that the ground around us is just sinking sand and that nothing in life is constant…..when the winds of deep trials come our way…..let’s consider it joy.  Let’s lean into Jesus even as we lean down with the weight of our circumstances.

 

And just like my bent pepper plant, we can still see that we are alive in Christ and that He has not left us alone.  He is still using us and still producing His fruit in our lives……..fruit which will benefit others, and give us joy and maturity.

 

It’s so good to know that God is in control.  He both sends the wind that sometimes bends me down, and the strength to be joyful as I stay rooted in Him.  May all of us grow fruit for Him and for others to see as we live in the struggles and storms of life.

 

 

 

 

Aaron’s Hospital Stay

Aaron came home from his day group on Thursday, June 11, in his usual way, bounding in the hall door from the garage with talk of what he had done that day at Paradigm.  It was later, as I stood in the kitchen fixing supper and he sat in his family room chair, that I noticed him coughing.  It was just a dry cough, nothing major, but it was persistent.  So I leaned around the corner and asked him if he was all right, and he answered in his usual droll way that he was just fine.  But as we ate supper awhile later, Gary and I noticed that he was very slow.  A couple days earlier, on Tuesday, Aaron had four seizures.  That wasn’t unusual for him, but on Wednesday he was himself again.  To be more lethargic on Thursday was concerning to us. 

During Wheel of Fortune he wasn’t animated or excited at all.  I felt his forehead and noticed how warm he was.  Sure enough, when I took his temperature it was 102.4.  The next morning I called McConnell Air Force Base to make a same day appointment.  Aaron kept sleeping until I finally went in his room and roused him enough to take his temperature again.  It was still 102.4.  He had a very hard time waking up enough to take his morning pills, and then went right back to bed.  As I continued to check on him I became very concerned at how he couldn’t wake up, so I finally made the decision to take him to the ER.  McConnell agreed with me, so I worked to get Aaron awake enough to dress.  I then had him sit on the floor of the hallway upstairs and scoot down the stairs on his bottom.  He would scoot down one stair and fall asleep until I jostled him……then scoot down another stair and fall asleep…..all the way down the stairs. 

We slowly made it to the van, and later at the ER a male nurse helped Aaron out of the van and into a wheel chair.  Still he slept.  We got him on the exam table and he slept again.  Somehow he stood up for a chest X-ray, but he slept through the doctor’s exam, the blood draw, insertion of the IV, and even the catheter.  The doctor found an ear infection, so I thought that Aaron’s body was just fighting hard and the sleeping was his reaction to that.  I felt like we would soon leave with an antibiotic prescription, go home, and get Aaron well. 
 

 
Yet the concern on the doctor’s face as he kept coming in the exam room was raising my own concern as well.  Finally he told me that the blood work had shown Aaron’s sodium to be dangerously low.  It should be at 135-136, but Aaron’s was 121.  Then he said that Aaron would need to be admitted to the hospital to address the sodium issue, and to find out what else was going on with him.  My mind was whirling as I called Gary and as we tried to decide if Aaron would stay at St. Teresa Hospital or go elsewhere, although that decision was made for us by insurance.  We would stay at St. Teresa.  It wasn’t long before we were on an elevator headed up to the small ICU unit, my mind still trying to adjust to all this.  I looked down at my very sick son and wondered about the “what else” that the ER doctor had mentioned.  What else was going on inside his body? 

 
There Aaron lay, all hooked up to monitors and tubes, his body struggling against that unknown something that was making him so sick.  He tried hard to wake up enough to answer nurse’s and doctor’s questions.  He sometimes showed his definite personality, like when the nurse asked him a question about his bowel habits.  He gave her a rather disgusted look and just answered with a “Hhmmpf!”  When Gary was there, and I left later that evening to run home, Aaron asked me to bring him his watch and his glasses.  He didn’t wear his glasses a lot during those first few days, but he put his watch on his arm right away, pushed way up the way he likes it.  It was a piece of normalcy in this crazy place in which he found himself. 

 
Over the weekend, when friends came to visit, Aaron would cry.  He showed emotion that was rare for him.  He told me later that he was sad.  I told him that we understood, but I didn’t tell him about my own sadness.  Or about those icy fingers of fear that were trying to grab at me.  It was not only sadness but fear I was feeling as I watched the blood draws…..the strong antibiotics flowing through the IV into Aaron’s body…..the fevers that sometimes rose to 104.5……the CAT scan…..the X-rays…..the spinal tap……the kidney specialist and the infectious disease doctor…..the testing for West Nile and tick borne disease…..the low sodium issue. 

 
Early on Saturday morning, as I have done many times in the past during stressful times, I asked God to give me a special verse.  I asked Him to speak to me in the way that I needed at this time.  There in that hospital room, with Aaron sleeping nearby, God gave me Ecclesiastes 11:5:  “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.”  That was it!  I didn’t know what was going on here with Aaron.  I didn’t know the work of God but I do know God.  I know that He loves us and I know that He has a work that He is accomplishing.  I know that I can TRUST Him, regardless of what else I don’t know. 

It was very hard to watch Aaron suffer.  Hard to see the pain in his face when he coughed….the struggle to deeply breathe and to talk……the pain of needles and tests.  It was easy for me to let fear take over as I helplessly watched our Aaron and wondered still about the “what else” that was so elusive to find in his body.  Soon another principle from scripture came to my heart.  “In everything, give thanks.”  I went home one evening while Gary sat with Aaron, and I knelt by Aaron’s empty bed in his bedroom.  His stuffed snake and skunk were still in the bed where he had left them.  I stretched my arms over his animal print blanket and I asked God to please heal our son.  I told God that I didn’t know about this work that He was doing, but I did trust Him.  And I thanked Him for this time.  That kind of thankfulness takes great trust in the One whom I was thanking, for sure, because I hurt for Aaron so deeply.  But I also know God and I know that He can be trusted.

It was a turning point for me.  My mother heart still hurt deeply all through that week in the hospital.  One night, with eyes closed, Aaron said, “This is not fun.”  There went my tears.  And later, eyes still closed, he said, “I love you, Mom.”  I leaned over his bed and he got as big a hug as I could give him.  But I purposely stood there and voiced thankfulness to God, hard as it was, for this work that He was doing and that I didn’t understand. 

 
Aaron’s chest X-ray finally showed pneumonia in his right lung.  It was determined that he had Aspiration Pneumonia.  Apparently, he aspirated some saliva during his seizures that previous week.  He responded to a new antibiotic, was moved out of ICU to a private room, began walking with the help of physical therapy, and was soon clamoring to come home.  I don’t know who had the bigger smile, Aaron or his doctor, when he was finally told that he could go home.  On Friday, a week after being admitted to the hospital, he was wheeled out to our van and we took off for home…..after picking up his choice of McDonalds for lunch on the way.  He is recovering his strength and his spirit, and some grouchiness, too. 

There is more to write about this experience.  About how Aaron’s autism affected his hospital stay, and about his tender return home to his world and his routine.

We’re so thankful for this outcome, but if it had been different, I pray that we would still be thankful.  Thankful for the work of God who makes everything, even when don’t know or understand His work.  When it’s all said and done, there is no better place to be than in His will as we watch His work and trust in Him. 

 

Keeps Me Singing

It was probably over 55 years ago that a soloist with a beautiful voice went to sing in a revival service in the little town of Oakvale, West Virginia.  She sang the hymn “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” and then she sat down to listen to the sermon preached by Jimmie Jones.  Her heart was disturbed as she listened to the gospel being preached that night.  She thought of the song she had just sung, and of the words that came out of her mouth in such a perfect performance…..words that she knew she didn’t really mean.  For it was just that – a performance.  She sang beautifully, but she sang a lie.  She knew that she didn’t really know Jesus, and that she didn’t really mean it when she sang about wanting Jesus more than anything this world affords. 
 

This woman was my mother, and that night changed her life and the life of our family.  She went home and urged my dad to go with her to listen to Jimmie Jones preach.  Mom didn’t know that my dad had already trusted Christ as his Savior.  It wasn’t long before my mother made the same decision.  She bowed her head and confessed her sin, and asked Jesus to be Lord of her life.  God changed my parents tremendously.  They raised their five children to know and serve the Lord, and they left us a spiritual heritage that has more value than anything this world affords.  And “I’d Rather Have Jesus” became my mother’s signature song…..one we heard her sing many, many times over the years.  One she sang with honesty for the rest of her life because of the work that God had done in her heart.

Last week we said goodbye to my mother for the final time on this earth.  We had really lost her a long time ago to the horrible ravages of Alzheimer’s.  She no longer had her memories, her personality, or any of her other faculties.  But even Alzheimer’s cannot take the Lord away.  He has promised to always be with us, and He always keeps His promises.  We saw evidences of His presence with Mom as she struggled in various ways.  What sweet comfort it brought to know that deep in her heart and her mind, God was ministering to her in ways that we could not. 

Two weeks ago, on the day before the call went out to family that mother was dying, we saw a profound picture of God’s grace in her little body and in her heart.  Jan and her daughter, Bethany, had gone to spend some time with Mom in the care home where she lived.  Mom was sitting in the commons area, her head down and her eyes closed, unresponsive to the voices and the noises around her.  Suddenly, on the television that was playing, a man started singing “Amazing Grace.”  Bethany looked down at her grandmother and saw that her lips were moving.  Surprised at this, she and Jan leaned down and put their ears to Mom’s moving lips.  Here is what they heard coming from my unresponsive mother:

          Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,

          Sweetest Name I know.

          Fills my every longing,

          Keeps me singing as I go.

My mother was singing!  Jan and Bethany wouldn’t have believed it had they not heard it for themselves.  She was clearly singing this beautiful old hymn.  She was singing about Jesus, whom she was soon to meet.  God’s prompting, God’s presence, was there with Mom in that room.  Jan and Bethany joined her in singing, and then Bethany said, “I love you.”  Mom clearly said, “I love you” to Bethany, her eyes still closed.  Then Jan said, “I love you, Mom.”  And Mom said, “I love you” to Jan as well. 

Those were the last words that my mother spoke.  The next day the family got the call that she was dying, and on Monday, May 4, my mother met Jesus.  Jesus, the sweetest name she knew.  Jesus, who filled her every longing.  Jesus, who kept her “singing as I go.”  Singing as she got ready to go to heaven. 

Like my brother, John, said at her funeral…..how appropriate that Mom’s walk with the Lord began with a song many years ago.  And her life with the Lord ended with a song…..a song that surprised us all, but was such a gift of grace and hope from God. 

A gift and an example that we will always, always cherish. 

 

In The Blink of An Eye

I’m thinking of my dad today for some very special reasons.  It’s been 6 ½ years since he went to heaven after fighting cancer for 8 years.  Dad was the one of the godliest men I have ever known.  He was so kind, selfless, and loving.  He was firm in his faith, never wavering through all the ups and downs of life, including his two bouts with cancer which finally took his life.  Yet despite his strong faith and his deep trust in the Lord, Dad seemed to have a great fear of death. 

None of us looks forward to dying, so on many levels we could understand his dread.  As he weakened and the end was coming nearer, he still seemed to struggle more and more with his uncertainties.  Finally one evening my brother John spent some time alone with Dad, talking to Dad about what was on his heart.  It was during this conversation that John was able to gently lead Dad to really express his concerns about dying.  One of Dad’s biggest issues was that he wondered what he would say to Jesus when he first saw Him.  We all just smiled and shook our heads when we heard that.  There he was again, not worried about his own pain but instead concerned about what he would say to his Lord.  And how like Dad that was!  He was always the ultimate planner and organizer, so for him to face this uncertain encounter with no plan or idea of what it would be like was very hard for him to handle.  Plus it very much showed his humility as he felt completely unworthy to stand before Jesus. 

Something else that was heavy on my Dad’s heart was the fact that he would be leaving my mother.  They had been inseparable during the 22 years of retirement they had enjoyed together.  Then when dad was put in a hospital bed, Mom slept in their bed right beside him and they held hands through the rails.  Dad knew that Mom was really showing the signs of Alzheimer’s in ways that we hadn’t seen.  He kept trying to find ways to tell us about it without Mom hearing him because he was so worried about what she would do when he was gone, and he wouldn’t be there to help her.  Part of his letting go was hearing our words of assurance that Mom would be cared for and that he didn’t need to worry about her.

But it wasn’t just that Dad was burdened about leaving Mom alone.  It was also that he was very concerned, almost fearful, of him being without her in heaven.  He was so close to her, so dependent on her in many ways, that the thought of being without her……even in heaven…..was nearly unbearable to him.  So on the night that John talked to Dad, he told Dad to remember that God said a thousand years to Him is but a day.  John said, “Dad, I really believe that when you go to heaven it’s going to be like you blink a couple times and then Mom will be right there with you.”

I don’t know that anything comforted Dad more than those words and that thought.  Later that night, as Mom and I sat with him in their family room, he very softly and slowly shared that thought with us…..and he sweetly smiled as he said it.  His soft, gentle smile….full of the hope that the separation from his Beth wouldn’t be so long after all.  We all know it was that night when Dad felt released to go on to heaven.  He knew that everything would be all right, and that Mom would join him in the blink of an eye.  Several days later he left this earth for heaven.

I’m thinking of my Dad today, and definitely my mom, for another very special reason.  Today my mother also left this earth for heaven.  She and Dad are finally together, whole and healthy at last!  I can’t imagine the joy they’re both experiencing right now to be with Jesus, and to be together for eternity.  Jan told me that Mom opened her eyes, eyes that had been shut for days.  It was as if she saw something.  Then she closed her mouth, closed her eyes, and was gone.  Did she see heaven?  Did she see Dad, grinning from ear to ear?  Did she see her Savior?  What precious and awesome thoughts those are!   

So while we cry at having to say goodbye to our last parent, we can’t help but smile and be so happy for her and for Dad.  Oh my goodness, I would love to have seen that reunion!  Someday we’ll join them there, and we’ll have so much joy and so much fun.  But until then, while we will sometimes weep and we will often miss them both, we can smile at God’s sweet goodness and rejoice over the certain hope we have of life together in heaven.  
 

Hey Mom, you and Dad have a great time up there! 

When we all get there, I do hope the Lord lets us sing “Oh, It Rained, Rained, Rained” again, just to torment dad. 

We’ll all see you in a couple blinks of an eye.    

This is The Day……

This morning I read about the death of one of my most remembered college professors……Martha Grace Green.  Tiny little Mrs. Green was a powerhouse as she taught speech to hundreds of students over the years.  We quickly learned not to underestimate her due to her size, for behind that small stature was a take-charge woman who taught us the proper way to give a speech……and to speak – (NEVER say each and every!!!)…….and also to live.  For at the beginning of each and every class…..so sorry, Mrs. Green!…….the entire class recited Psalm 118:24.  “This is the day which the Lord has made; we shall rejoice and be glad in it.” 

Many memories of Martha Grace were coursing through my mind this morning as I went about my routine, getting ready to drive Aaron to meet his day group.  I wasn’t at all surprised to hear Aaron knock on my locked bedroom door as soon as I got out of the shower.  Aaron often stands outside my bedroom door when it’s locked, knocking and waiting on me to let him in.  He will sometimes stand out in the hall for many minutes, as he did this morning, while he waits for me to open the door. 

When I finally opened the door this morning, there stood Aaron, holding onto the two sides of the hallway wall with both hands, arms outstretched.  “Mom,” he said.  “I’m dizzy!”  He then proceeded to walk inside my bedroom to follow me as I got ready to dry my hair.  However, he was having a very difficult time staying upright.  He was more than a little dizzy.  He was flat out very dizzy, leaning to one side and then the next as he tried to steady himself.  He held on to my dresser and then to the bathroom door as he followed me. 

I knew right away what this severe dizziness was.  His Epilepsy doctor recently increased one of his seizure drugs, a new one that Aaron has been on for a couple months.  The doctor had told me that the most common side effect is dizziness.  I had hoped that we wouldn’t see anything of significance with Aaron, but my hopes were dashed as I watched Aaron try to walk back to his room…….looking like a drunken sailor. 

I made sure he was safely in his room, sitting at his desk watching a movie, and I returned to my bathroom to dry my hair.  As soon as I finished, I heard Aaron again.  This time I looked and found him crawling up the hall.  Yes, he was crawling up the hall and into my bathroom like a baby on all fours.  Poor Aaron!  It made me so sad to see him like that.  He lay on my bathroom floor, wondering why he was dizzy.  He listened to me explain about the side effect of the increased dose of his new seizure drug.  He was satisfied that he was experiencing a side effect……relieved that it wasn’t his movie that was making him dizzy. 

 
Eventually Aaron crawled back up the hall and into his bedroom, where I helped him into his bed.  “I wish I didn’t take that pills,” he said.  “I just wish I could take my other pills.”  My heart hurt for Aaron.  He dozed a little and I hoped that he would sleep off the dizziness and return to normal when he was awake.  I knew that he couldn’t go to his day group like this, so I notified them that Aaron would be staying home.  I called his doctor to report the situation and to see what he wanted Aaron to do.  And as I finished getting myself ready, I was mentally rearranging my day.  At this time of year especially, but really every day, I have my routine figured out for each day.  I know what I will do when I drop Aaron off to meet his group……what I will do first, second, third, etc.  I try to make the wisest use of my time as well as the wisest way to save gas as I plan what to do when.  What will I do today because I can’t do it tomorrow……because tomorrow is also planned out……and the day after that…..

The side effects of Aaron’s medicine today that showed up in his body also showed up in my schedule, and in my planning, and in my LIFE.  Which brought me to the point of remembering Mrs. Green and then inwardly smiling as I made myself quote her life verse once again.  “This is the day which the Lord has made; we shall rejoice and be glad in it.” 

I shall rejoice and be glad in it, I told myself.   A little change in my routine is no big deal.  I can readjust, reschedule, rethink, and be just fine.  Some days it isn’t so easy, granted, but today I can…..and I will……and I really have to…..just stop and be glad in it.  So as I put away mounds of folded laundry that I had set aside for too long……and cleaned both bathrooms……and talked to Aaron when he stirred…..I kept repeating Psalm 118:24.  I kept telling myself to heed its message…..to not complain or sigh…..but to rejoice and be glad in it. 

IN it…..no way around it or under it or over it.  IN the situation I was to rejoice.  And that included poor Aaron going to the bathroom after I had thoroughly cleaned his toilet and the floor……and finding myself on my hands and knees cleaning up an even bigger mess, with dear Aaron telling me he was sorry.  Dizziness and going to the bathroom when you’re a man don’t mix very well. 

Aaron is better now.  The doctor’s office called with new dosage instructions.  The bathroom is clean again.  Aaron even got some Sonic for lunch! 

I am better, too.  Better for having learned years ago a most valuable lesson from Martha Grace Green.  She had no idea…..or maybe she did……of the many ways that her many students would use that life verse in our own lives.  I certainly never dreamed that I would be helping my 30 year old special needs son crawl up the hall to his bed on the morning I learned of Mrs. Green’s death……and had her life verse repeating in my head over and over, giving me great encouragement.  I never imagined that this would be my life when I was a young college girl sitting in Mrs. Green’s speech class.

But Martha Grace had lived enough life to know that all of her students needed to have one thing ingrained in our heads when we left her class.  God has made each of our days to be what they are, and we are to rejoice and be glad in each and every one.  Sorry again, Mrs. Green!

“This is the day which the Lord has made; I shall rejoice and be glad in it.” 

Thank you, Mrs. Green.  Somehow you knew.

Martha Grace Green with her son, Steve