Hallelujah

I recently listened to this rendition of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah”, performed by opera singer Andre Bocelli and his 8 year old daughter. You can watch it here.

This Leonard Cohen song, released in 1984, rose in popularity in the last few years. Have you listened to the lyrics? I have found them somewhat confusing.

Cohen seems to be talking about King David, the ancient king of Israel during their golden age. About the king’s sense of emptiness and in desiring to feel again, touching someone else’s wife, bringing chaos, pain, loss.

Cohen intersperses his verses with repeated singing of “Hallelujah”. Now the word “hallelujah”, according to the online dictionary, is “an expression of worship or rejoicing.” Hallelujah originates from the Hebrew hallĕlūyāh meaning ‘praise ye the Lord’. King David was known as a godly king for the most part, a king who was also a poet and wrote many songs of worship and praise to God. The dissonance is strong as David acknowledges in Cohen’s lyrics the baffling love for God and God’s ways, yet straying from that love and experiencing how his life “all went wrong” after that. Here are the song lyrics.

Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen

Now, I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah,Hallelujah

What is Coehan trying to say? At first glance, I was not sure.

But upon a closer reading of the lyrics, what comes to me is that the “cold and lonely”, and “broken” condition Cohen describes brings one face to face with loss, grief. Perhaps this is a lament of King David’s – listing off of what is wrong with his life.

And then “Hallelujah.” Singing praises to God. Is that Cohen’s intent? I am not sure. I don’t know enough about him or the writing of his song. Upon doing a little internet research, I found that Cohen, who faced a “tragic early death” had a Jewish background, and there is speculation that “the song reflects both Cohen’s struggles with faith and tests of faith inflicted upon the Jewish people. However, it’s unknown whether or not this was intentional on Cohen’s part. Most music theorists presume that the lyrics are meant to be more open-ended.” https://spinditty.com/genres/The-Origin-and-History-of-the-Song-Hallelujah

Upon reflecting further, I am reminded that there is a cycle of life from birth, growth, flourishing, fruitfulness, withering and death we see in nature, as well as in the human experience. When we are growing and fruitful and flourishing, it is easy to sing “Hallelujah” and praise God. But when one gets to withering aspects of life and facing the death of dreams, relationships, or even self, one has the opportunity to take stock, and look up, and we can then see that God has been there all along. But we haven’t been paying attention.

Perhaps we are able to say “Hallelujah” before God even when brokenness is all we have. We are bringing our broken selves before God as King David did, and looking for something….something only God can do. We hope this is not the end of the story. The remains of plants, leaves, creatures, slowly, over time and in the right conditions reform to create rich soil in which new life can begin. Can we also experience new life after brokenness?

Reflection:

We as human beings are collectively, some more than others, going through a period of loss and grief as we are continuing to experience, on some level, a world-wide, unprecedented in our lifetimes, pandemic. What might we be invited to let go of, to shed, to surrender? When might we experience new life; the new thing we can’t do on our own; the new things we look to God for? Can we look up and say “Hallelujah, God is with us?” Even during this time? Even now when our lived experience is uncertain as the pandemic seems to be abating in some places in the world, but not in others?

A Musical Plea for Kindness

July 24, 2020, 12:20 am

I have been trying to sleep since 11 pm but to no avail.

I keep hearing bits and pieces of a song floating in my head.

Melody and words.

“Sing…gently…together.”

Yes, I am one of the 17,572 singers from 129 countries who participated in Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6. The video recording of Sing Gently was virtually premiered last Sunday. Did you see it? The sheer magnitude of attempting such a feat is mind boggling.

But the finished product was so worth the effort! Listening to the sound of 17,572 singers is powerful, stunning, beautiful, moving, other-worldly.

Mr. Whitacre composed this song not long after COVID-19 halted our lives as we knew it.  It speaks a message we need these days.  Here are the lyrics:

MAY WE SING TOGETHER, ALWAYS, MAY OUR VOICE BE SOFT, MAY OUR SINGING BE MUSIC FOR OTHERS, AND MAY IT KEEP OTHERS ALOFT.

SING GENTLY, ALWAYS, SING GENTLY AS ONE.

MAY WE STAND TOGETHER, ALWAYS, MAY OUR VOICE BE STRONG, MAY WE HEAR THE SINGING, ALWAYS, AND MAY WE ALWAYS SING ALONG.

SING GENTLY, ALWAYS, SING GENTLY AS ONE.

And here is a link to the video:

https://youtu.be/InULYfJHKI0

Tonight as I lay trying to sleep, I also visualized the scene in the video towards the end of the song where all the singer’s videos, separate at first, move towards each other. They look like they are forming continents, and eventually come together “as one”. You see that completed concept in the artwork of my featured image.

I imagined this song hovering over the earth, shimmering in its beauty; the rushing sound of many voices singing softly and gently, covering the earth as a prayer.

We need this healing vision today.  We need these inspiring words of hope. The reality of life in our country at this time is anything but “soft” and united “as one.”

Voices are loud, confusing, strident, tearing us apart. Actions are at times hurtful, violent, even murderous.

We need reminders that we are all part of each other – we are all part of the human race. We all need kindness and consideration, in order that we may all flourish.

Can we make music “for others?” Can we help “keep others aloft?”

As we “sing gently”, what would it take to “stand together always”, inviting others to “sing along?”

Will we pause the loud, argumentative streams of words to listen to this soft and gentle plea?  And if we do, will we take it to heart?

Postscript: After I wrote this blog, I searched for an appropriate image to illustrate it.  I found something, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.  The next day, the image you see was posted on the Virtual Choir 6 facebook group – it is perfect!  Thank you so much for sharing it Alana!

Artwork credit: Alana Keener, fellow Virtual Choir 6 singer

In Times Like These, Lament

Lament: Prayer for when our spiritual journey with God is at a wall.

Today, we, along with most of humanity, are experiencing the unprecedented in our lifetime world-wide pandemic of COVID-19. There is confusion, fear, anxiety, loss of many kinds, sickness, sorrow, death and grief all around. We, the people of God have questions.  If we are honest, the big question is, “Where are you God, in all of this?”

What we as Christians are experiencing is described as “The Wall”; a stage in the life of faith described in the book “The Critical Journey”, by Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich.

“The Wall” is often precipitated by a life or faith crisis that turns our world upside down and for the first time, our faith doesn’t seem to work. Our experience of life and our beliefs aren’t matching up. We have more questions than answers. Sometimes this stage is entered into gradually and at some point we realize that God seems far away and whatever we’ve been doing up to that point to connect with God isn’t working. Sometimes this experience happens suddenly.  The experience of “The Wall” often leads to uncertainty about God, everything we thought we knew about the life of faith, shame, fear, and an urge to give up. It can be a dark and lonely time.

Historic Christian writer St. John of the Cross (1542-1592), a Catholic Christian monk who spent his life in the service of Catholic Reform, described this experience of God’s absence as “The Dark Night of the Soul”.

Contemporary writer Lee Beach, in his article “A Spirituality of Exile: Responding to God’s Absence”, describes the sense of God’s absence as feeling like being in a spiritual exile.

A few Biblical individuals who experienced a deep sense of loss and seeming absence of God’s presence are Job, Naomi, and the Israelites when in Babylonian exile.

What we see in the life of the Biblical examples mentioned, as well as from St. John of the Cross, is that these individuals responded to God in a variety of ways.

Job grieved, and lamented to his friends, who provided poor counsel. Eventually Job approached God with his questions.  God listened (described through several chapters) and then responded to Job. (Book of Job)

Naomi and her family moved away from the land of Israel to care for their physical needs when famine struck God’s people in “the promised land.” After some years went by, which included many severe losses for Namoi, Naomi’s return to the land of Israel represents her return to God, even as she recognizes her bitterness  (“Call me Mara”). Eventually she recognizes God’s care for her through Ruth and Boaz, and her joy is restored. (Book of Ruth)

The Israelites cried out to God in lament, mourning their losses, asking for God’s help many times throughout their journey out of Egypt, as well as when they were exiled from their country many years later. At times they even blamed God for turning against them and allowing them to be overcome and taken into captivity. While in captivity in Babylon, they kept calling out to God to save them. 70 years later, God restored their land to them. (Lamentations, Psalms 44, 74, 89, 89, 102, 106, 137).

Most of these suffering people moved towards God in a new way, bringing their questions, confusion and pain to God. While they felt abandoned by God, they didn’t give up on God. In fact, their lament shows their determination to speak with God about their situation, question God about God’s action or lack thereof in regards to their plight.

The language of lament as found in scripture, offers a paradigm for engaging with God in the midst of our experience of God’s seeming absence. This language of lament is one of struggle, doubt, frustration with God, and wrestling with where God is in the midst of painful experiences.

There are a couple of movements in the lament prayers of the Israelites as described by Beach that can help us as we approach God in our times of spiritual exile, Dark Night of the Soul, or Wall experience:

  • An honest description of the problem.
  • A request for God to act on our behalf and remedy the problem.
  • Confession of Trust. Remembering what God has done in the past and confessing trust in God for the present.
  • Vow of Praise. Praising God in anticipation of God’s new redemption action in the future.

Theological Reflection is at the heart of lament.  When we sense God’s absence it can feel like an exilic experience. We no longer feel at home with God as our normal life experience has changed. We feel that we are “cast into a foreign land.”

Prayer and Reflection:

In times like these, I invite you to find a scripture of lament below to meditate on, perhaps daily, and then write your own prayers of lament as described above, following the example of Job, Naomi, the Israelites in exile, St. John of the Cross and countless Christians down through the ages, by continuing to call out to God. He is a God who is far away yet also very near. (Jeremiah 23:23)

Some scriptures of lament: Psalm 5-7, 10, 11 – 13, 17, 22, 28, 56, 60-64, 69-70, 74, 77, 90, 102, 120-121, 130, 140-143, Book of Lamentations

Photo credit: Charlotte Hedman, https://charhedman.wixsite.com/photography

A Firm Footing

Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
    on a firm footing.

Psalm 143:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

I have not written a blog post in quite a while.  Life began to happen and blogging fell off of my list of priorities.

Today as I read Psalm 143, I was struck by the unique times we are living in, and how so many Psalmists cry out to God in difficult circumstances.

Where I live, in the heart of America, we are just beginning to experience fall-out from the corona virus spreading to our country. And we are not accustomed, for the most part, to the kind of difficult circumstances it is causing around the world. Yet here we are, finding ourselves in a “world-wide pandemic.”

How is this pandemic affecting you today and as you look ahead to this week?

My daughter and I were to be traveling in the UK starting last week and for the rest of March – a trip of a lifetime.  After closely watching the WHO, CDC, and BBC websites, prayer, and some agony, we postponed our trip.  Now we are so thankful we did.  Each day, things shift, and more and more people are getting sick.  Countries are changing their travel policies, shutting borders; quarantines are in place, medical resources are stretched.

Even though the state I live in only had about 6 cases of the virus, and none in my town, the toilet paper shelf was bare last Friday when I went shopping at our local grocery store. Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer were hard to find as well.  Thankfully, food was in good supply, as well as other necessities.

Last Friday, our state and county encouraged public gatherings of no more than 250 people.  Many large churches did not hold public services on Sunday, opting instead for services being live streamed with no one in attendance.  Now I am seeing suggestions of no more than 50 people in public gatherings.

The schools in our community are on spring break this week.  Many have announced an extra week of spring break while the administrators and teachers try to figure out how to finish the school year online if necessary.

Here in America, I did not sense much concern when the virus first broke out in China last December, yet only a few short months later, here we are, the world in a much different place; something that one could not have conceived of.

In light of all this, the phrases that stood out to me in Psalm 143 were the ones I bolded; “teach me to do you will”, and “lead me on a firm footing.” As a Christian, one who attempts to follow God’s will, what is God’s will in these uncertain times?  How can I find “a firm footing” as I take in the news, the reactions of others, the fear of the unknown, the shifting reality of life around the world as well as in my own community, the loss of “normal life for the foreseeable future”?

For someone who claims Christian beliefs, the words from an old song we used to sing “this world is not my home, I’m just passing through”, comes to mind.  A parable about a “wise man” spoken of in scripture who built his house on a rock, and the “foolish man” who built his house on sinking sand also floats through my thoughts.

How many of us are so comfortable and have put our security so heavily in things of this world, that we have forgotten our true home? How real is heaven?  How do we live so connected to Christ through his Spirit that we are constantly living in and through him? What is our “foundation” in life?

I have been instructed by an article that was posted on fb this past week, regarding the actions of Christians during plagues of past centuries.  You might find it interesting.  Instead of running and protecting themselves, they stayed and cared for the sick and dying, turning the tide of the growth of the plague, and bringing many to faith. They did not fear death.  They had a firm foundation in Christ. You can read it here.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/13/christianity-epidemics-2000-years-should-i-still-go-to-church-coronavirus/

I encourage you to sit with the entire Psalm 143 and listen for how God speaks to you.  Reflect honestly with God about what you notice.

What is my invitation from God in these times?  What is yours?  For those who call themselves God’s people, these times may be ones of self-correcting.  Repenting.  Common sense planning, and lots of washing hands with soap! Looking for where I can serve.  Love.  Help.  Pray for God’s help all around the world, to bring us all out of this distress we are experiencing around the world.

I close these thoughts with a quote:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf. “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.” –J.R.R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

Photo credit: Photo is by my talented cousin Charlotte Hedman. Check out her work on her website https://charhedman.wixsite.com/photography

 

 

 

 

 

Cultivating Quietness

Truly my soul silently waits for God. Psalm 62:1

My soul, wait silently before God alone; for my expectation is from Him. Psalm 62:5

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:7

Finding silence and quietness in this day and age is a challenge.  So many things compete for our attention that we have to be intentional to cultivate silence. Yet finding a space where we can be alone, remove the technology, shut the door, and be silent before God is critical for our ability to abide in Christ.

Quoting from Andrew Murray in “Abiding in Christ”, “”It is a soul silent before God that is best prepared for knowing Jesus.”  He also writes,

“Quietness is blessing…Quietness is strength…Quietness is the source of highest activity – the secret of all true abiding in Christ. Cultivate quietness as a means to abiding in Christ and expect the ever-deepening quietness and calm of heaven in the soul as the fruit of abiding in Him.”

For much of my youth and early young adulthood I only sought God when I had a problem or disappointment. Periodically I would attempt more of a devotional life, but it usually dissipated when life was “good.” I wasn’t taught how to be silent with God and therefore did not receive the benefits from silence and waiting on God.  I forged a path through life based on what others thought or what I wanted, and asked God to bless it.

Through a series of several severe trials, I found myself progressing from angrily questioning God’s goodness and my desire to remain connected to God, to searching the scriptures to see if I had missed something. In my searching I realized I had some wrong ideas about God. By God’s grace, this opened my heart to see God’s provision for me and my perspective began to change.  Several subsequent losses found me surviving only by turning to God and spending time with God, particularly in the Psalms, listening for God’s words for me. God met me and I found answers to my questions, comfort for my fears, and a changing perspective to see that I was not in control, life was unpredictable, yet with God there was peace and hope.

My experience of God’s comfort and love during trials led me to wonder how I could continue to seek after God in times of joy and prosperity.  The journey since has not always been straight forward as I am prone to wander.  Yet I have found that somehow, when I take time to be silent before God on a regular basis, God is working mysteriously in me to bring about what Andrew Murray describes as, “the ever-deepening quietness and calm of heaven in the soul” making it more possible for me to abide in Christ throughout my day, even in the midst of difficulties.

So how to cultivate quietness with God?  Here are some practical suggestions.

  1. Look for a quiet space in your home, place of employment, or somewhere in nature. If you can’t find one, consider how you can create one.
  2. Be intentional about a time of day you go to that space.
  3. Start by spending a few minutes in silence with God before you go on to reading and reflecting on scripture or whatever devotional material you are using.  Expand that time of silence as you are able.
  4. In the silence, focus on God’s loving presence with you. Other thoughts may pop up.  Quietly acknowledge them and let them go.  If they are troubling thoughts, silently release them to God for God’s care and go back to focusing on God’s loving presence.
  5. If you are able to find a quiet space and time, yet continue to struggle with silence or troubling thoughts, consider reaching out to a trusted friend, pastor or Christian spiritual director for support.

 

Arrest in the Garden

In the garden

in the middle of the night

Jesus rose from his wrestling prayer

with God,

these words on his lips,

 

“Not my will but yours be done.”

 

Moving through fear into love,

The battle was over.

 

Resolute, calm, facing towards his destiny,

he waited and watched

as tiny pinprick lights of torches grew larger,

a crescendo of swords clanking and hushed whispers,

footsteps approaching.

He stood to greet the unruly and armed crowd that had materialized

out of the darkness

in the garden.

 

Startled out of their deep slumber,

the disciples jumped up awkwardly,

rubbing sleep out of their fearful eyes,

blinded by the torchlight.

They watched in stunned silence.

A kiss.

A sword.

A rebuke.

Jesus, the only calm one in this scene,

is betrayed, arrested.

 

He did not resist.

He did not call out to His Heavenly Father to defend him.

Strengthened by love,

he gave himself up even more

than he already had.

 

He let the unfair actions against him play out

as the arrest took place

in the garden.

 

“Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges, he took the humble position of a slave….he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:5-8 NLT

 

 

Scraps of Life, Part 3

Surgery and After

Finally, after interruptions and another surgery, I am back to writing this series.

It has become harder, the farther away I am from this time of my life, to remember things accurately. I didn’t realize that until months after my initial surgery. One day, when I was recovered enough to get around, I found a bedpan in the laundry room and had no idea why it was there.  I had forgotten much of those first weeks between breaking my leg and following my surgery. My memory loss was more than likely due to the fact I was on pain medication and was sleeping a lot. My spot was flat on my back on the couch with my ankles iced and highly elevated. Yes, ankles.  My right ankle was sprained as well as my left broken, making it difficult to get to the bathroom, among other things!  Thus the need for a bedpan….

bothankles

My view from the couch.

When I came home from the emergency room late that night, we were sent home with the name of a surgeon they were passing me on to.  I was very concerned that I would not get in touch with the surgeon and get the surgery done quick enough.  So I called on Monday to get a hold of someone, and then found we were sent to a different surgeon.

The accident happened on Saturday; surgery was scheduled for Wednesday of the next week. I was eager to get on to the healing part, but it was a strange feeling to submit my leg to someone who I did not know anything about.  It never occurred to me at that time to Google and get that info! After my initial surgery to repair the broken bones, I learned that my surgeon had a reputation in Wichita of being a premier trauma ortho surgeon.  Thank you Lord!

My husband and I arrived at the hospital on surgery day by 5:30 am to check in. It was a bit of a shock to find out what we owed financially before surgery could happen (Gulp!  Thank goodness for HSA accounts.) I was wheeled away to get prepped for surgery and soon my family joined me in waiting.

When the surgeon arrived he informed us that in addition to the two broken bones at my left ankle (tibia and fibula) my ligaments were badly torn so he could not guarantee that they would fully recover.  He didn’t outright say it – I had to ask a few questions after he implied it (a man of few words) – and that gave me pause to realize that this may be a game changer for me.  How much would my ankle heal? And always the concern, how will I respond to anesthesia?  Yet as I lay there getting ready for surgery, something I have not experienced before, God gave me peace as I maintained my focus on Jesus by praying the Jesus Prayer,

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

A version of the well known quote by Julian of Norwich was also on my mind,

“With God all is well and all will be well.”

I gave myself into God’s care, safe no matter what the outcome. After a short ride to the OR, sliding onto the surgery table for the 1 1/2 hour surgery, I was out in a few minutes. Before I knew it, I was waking up in recovery.

Reflection:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We live in a broken world,  a world marred by sin.  Accidents, illness, harm happens to all of us sooner or later.  Suffering occurs.  I am one that has spent a great deal of time trying to avoid suffering in my life.  As a young adult, during a “wilderness” time spiritually, I ran across (was guided by the Holy Spirit) Jesus’ words to his disciples quoted above. When troubles come, Jesus says, we should not be surprised. Strengthen your heart!  Jesus has overcome.

What troubles have come your way?  Are you discouraged?  Weary?  Full of anxiety?

I invite you to turn to Jesus in the midst of whatever you are experiencing.  Sometimes, however, we simply can’t prayer.  “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” is a form of what is sometimes called the Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer, or Breath Prayer. It was first prayed by a man who was blind, Bartimaeus (Mark 10:47), as he called out to Jesus. Consider praying this prayer to center your thoughts on Jesus, particularly when you are feeling the weight of your troubles.  It can help to focus on your breathing. As you pray, “Lord Jesus Christ”, slowly breath in, “have mercy on me”,  slowly breath out.

The actual quote by Julian of Norwich is, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well…you shall not be overcome.”

 

 

 

 

Awake O Sleeper!

What a few weeks it’s been!

Once again I have not been able to continue my blog series “Scraps of Life”.  Instead, I have been helping my parents in Canada, as my mom prepared and moved to a nursing home there last week.  It’s a lovely Christian facility and she needs their care.  We are also supporting my dad as this change is hard on him.

mom

Me with my mom on her first day in the nursing home.

me in ND

After a week in the winter north land, I found spring had sprung in my yard when I returned to Kansas.  I enjoyed working in the sunshine yesterday, fertilizing, cleaning up debree in the yard, and loving that the pansies wintered over in my greenhouse so well!

It turned out that on the first day of spring, as I went around to see what plants were beginning to recover from winter, and which ones weren’t, the words “Wake up oh sleeper” came to mind.

spirea bushes

Spirea bushes are pretty sleepy yet.

rose

Rose bush barely waking up.

IMG_4268

Daffodils ready to bloom.

hydrangia

Hydrangea is leafing out.

pansy

Glorious pansies!

“Awake, Oh sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!” Ephesians 5:14

Reflection:

Spend a little time thinking about ways in which God might be inviting you to “awake”.  Where do you need Christ to give you light? Talk with God about what you notice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scraps of Life Part 2

What Happened after IT Happened

So there I was, down on the ground with an oddly swollen and painful ankle, and no one was responding to my calls. (FYI, if you ever find yourself in a similar position, don’t call for a person – yell HELP!  My neighbor later told me he heard me called ROB! and thought to himself, boy that Rob sure is in trouble!)

I called again, and one of the neighbors finally looked over.  When he did he started running towards me, as did the others.  Bless their hearts!  They came with eyes wide and asked “what should we do?”

It’s funny now to think back to that moment.  There I was laying on the ground obviously hurt in some way, and they were asking me what to do!  I have Red Cross First Aid training and if I was the one coming to aid I would have done things differently.  But that never crossed my mind in the moment.  My only thought was to get in the car and get to the emergency room that was a little more than a mile away.

“What should we do?”  “Get my husband,” I replied. “He’s in the house.”  They did and together they half carried, half walked me to the car.  I think someone pushed a little too hard on a rib and I felt it give way, but that was the least of my worries.

The ride to the emergency room seemed SO SLOW!  So much TRAFFIC!  I was breathing in and out slow measured breaths to keep the pain at bay, protecting my swollen ankle from touching any part of the car.

FINALLY – the emergency room!  Someone saw us coming and came out to greet us, bringing a wheelchair.  But NO PAIN MEDS until the x-rays were done.  And they had to MOVE MY ANKLE for some of the x-rays. They also confirmed my right ankle was sprained, and my back was fine. But then – morphine!  And as I felt the morphine move into my body – RELIEF!  I was more myself again – I could joke – and express my gratitude for the help I was receiving!

first ER

My ankle was carefully placed in a splint and I was sent by ambulance to the hospital emergency room where ortho people could set the ankle and place it in another splint.  My first ambulance ride! (wow those gurnys are narrow!)

ambulance

And then two ortho interns – a first year and a fifth year – forced my foot back into place using their bodies to do so.  I was expecting a great deal of pain (think Gray’s Anatomy ortho adjustments) yet it wasn’t terrible.  With the x-ray confirming my bones were where they needed to be, I then waited, and waited to be released to go home, which finally happened by 10:00 pm.  I was to be scheduled for surgery that next week as hardware was needed to put my bones back where they belonged.

Below are the xrays taken before they set the bones.

Xrays of broken bone

xray 2

On all these trips my husband and daughter followed me and sat with me, keeping me company during the waiting, and showing their care and love.  I am so grateful to them, to the ER staff in both places, the ambulance folks, and to my neighbors who gave me their aid that got me going in the right direction!

2nd ER

waiting to be released

Reflect:

The worst has happened.  An accident, a misstep of some kind.  A diagnosis. A shocking revelation. The unexpected.  Maybe it happened a while ago. Who helped you during that time in your life? Who can you thank God for?

Maybe it is happening now.  Who has God placed around you who could help?  Are you willing to ask for it?  There are times when we simply aren’t able to help ourselves.

66 times in the book of the Psalm the word “help” is spoken of.  God is also your help.  Take a little time to reflect on Psalm 22:24 below.  Talk with God about what you notice.

 Psalm 22:24 (NIV)

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

 

 

 

 

 

Scraps of Life, Part 1

What Happened

I was ready to turn a new corner at the beginning of my 60th year.

I had re-arranged my life; organized the house making space to create, minister, and time to help my aging parents.

I had just come off of a very busy June of birthdays, our anniversary, Father’s Day, a family reunion in Canada.

Now I was home to begin this new phase of my life.

And then it all came to a crashing halt on a Saturday afternoon, July 7, 2018.

I was doing what I’ve done many times before; stepping onto a stepping stone in my yard near the water faucet on the house I use to water my flowers, but this time I was careless.

I stepped only partway with my right foot onto the stone which was raised above the ground some.  I immediately twisted my ankle and fell back hard on my other leg. I don’t know exactly how I landed but I remember feeling my rear hit the ground. My leg must have been under it. Here is a photo reinacting my mis-step.

footstone

It all happened so fast I had no time to catch myself.

As I write this now in February 2019, my heart is beating a little faster just thinking about that moment.  It felt like I was being pushed down.  The ground was packed hard underneath me and as I peeked through my bent legs I could see that the ankle on my left leg was unnaturally swollen.  I knew immediately that I could not step on that leg – something was seriously wrong.

My husband and daughter were in the house so I began to call for my husband.  Rob!  Rob!  I called and called but no one came.  I saw two of my neighbors across the street but no one was even looking my way.  I stopped calling and began to worry that I was going to have to move – could I crawl to the house?  And the words formed in my head…Really God? Now this? Really?

Reflect:

It is very natural to question God when the unexpected happens.  Whether you are in a season of unexpected happenings or not, I invite you to take a few moments and read slowly through the scripture below, talking with God about what you notice.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord

who created you.

O Israel, the one who formed you says,

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

When you go through the rivers of difficulty,

you will not drown.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

you will not be burned up;

the flames will not consume you.

For I am the Lord, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’

 Isaiah 43:1-3a (NLT)