Monday, October 30, 2006

Could the Doctors See the Love in Grandpa's Heart?

Well, the surgery is over and God took good care of us. The next six weeks will be the recovery time and I'm hoping and praying Fred will be patient and enjoy the time to rest and allow his body to heal. He's been a good patient so far, so I'm sure he'll follow doctor's orders! You always learn alot during these kinds of experiences, and I've learned lessons as well:
  • I've learned about heart valves and how they work
  • I've learned that open heart surgery is very delicate and that medical science is amazing
  • I've learned that people who's lives Fred has touched really care about him and wish they could help him
  • I've learned that God is in control of everything
  • I've learned that in a hospital waiting room, there are many people who need a touch of God's amazing grace, just a word, just a look of empathy, just a ray of hope
  • I've learned that little children can say the most amazing things...

Someone once said, "Children are God's apostles sent forth, day by day, to preach of love, and hope and peace."

On day two after Fred's surgery, Daniel and I (and Penny) were looking through a booklet about heart valve replacement. We were talking about the valve from a very technical perspective--I named the four valves, showed then what an artificial or tissue valve looks like, and explained what arteries and ventricals and valves are. Daniel was taking it all in and then suddenly said to turn the page back to the picture of the heart. Touching the aortic valve with his finger, he said, "Could the doctors see the love in Grandpa's heart?" I said, "probably not, but Jesus sure could, and Jesus took care of Grandpa." Later, telling Fred that story, he started to cry as the words of a five-year-old reached in and warmed his "heart of hearts."

Tomorrow I bring him home and I'm excited to get him home and get into the recovery mode at home. But my greatest lesson is one I've been learning alot about these past months. And that is that no matter what we go through, God has in mind to grow us, to perfect us, and even to bless us. Even when it seems too hard. And along with all of that, we have nothing whatsoever to complain about, or be discontent about, that our circumstances are so small in comparison to what others are going through and in comparison to how big our God is. Fred used to tell of folks that would answer him with "I'm okay, under the circumstances." To that Fred would reply, "What are you doing under the circumstances?" Remember that? It actually may seem trite, especially if the burdens are much greater than one can bear, but it works for us in our current situation!

Here is a photo of Dad, who wanted to say a special hello to our family of bloggers. I want to thank you kids and your families for all the support you've offered me in these past couple of weeks. To Freddy and Charif and Annie who came and spent so much time in spite of all the chaos it created for you! And Isaac for all the calls and care that reached out through the wires straight to Dad. And a special thank you to Olen who just has been there for us--from breakfast on surgery day, to a shaver for Fred, to shaving Fred :), and the calls and visit with Marcy. Bless you all so much.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Reflections for the Loves of My Life...

"Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you." I. Thess. 5:16-18

This coming Wednesday my husband will be having open heart surgery. We are in the midst of preparing ourselves for what is sure to be a pretty intense time of recovery, needed patience and grace, and a touch from our Father's great mercy. As I try to place myself in the events of this coming week and in anticipation of seeing Fred in any discomfort, I do know that we will be on the other side of it all in a relatively short period of time. By Christmas, he will be almost healed, back to work, and our lives will be back into the usual rythyms and flow that have become the routine of our empty nest.

These past few days have held some surprises that I wish to record here. First, I've known that Fred has ministered with a very personal one-on-one touch to literally thousands of people over these past years as Chaplain and as "a" Care Pastor at our church. I know this because I can't get through a Saturday run into Costco without being stopped by someone who's life Fred has touched, or the mall, the corridors of the hospital, and certainly at church. But this week, as word has spread that he is having this surgery, the calls and cards and emails have been pouring in, reminding me once more of the ministry that Fred has had with so many. And today we learned that the blood donor center has been busy with a number who have stepped forward to donate platelets and blood for Fred. The donors are saying, "this is my chance to give back to Fred." I've heard Fred say numerous times, "you never know where your touch may go." Well, we've learned this week in new ways where his touch has been, that is for sure. And now there are those who wish to step in and touch his life and help in any way they can.

I've been asked if I'm afraid. My immediate response is that neither of us are afraid of death--and there is no question in my mind but that God will take care of me if anything should happen to Fred. But I do fear physical pain for him. And there is some nervousness, almost as though we are preparing for a great stage play in which we are major players. And of course both of us know that there are so many people facing impossible circumstances, losses, illness, pain, and sorrow, far greater than anything we are dealing with at this time.

And I give thanks for the heart of my husband. It is a heart that has certainly known pain, has ached for others in pain, has rejoiced with those who have rejoiced, has been broken and contrite before the Lord, has been filled with pride over his children and grandchildren, has sacrificially loved his wife, has been the true heart of a servant, and is a heart that as a young boy asked the question, "can God use a skinny little kid like me?" It is this heart that I have loved for the past 38 years--not a perfect heart mind you, but, like my own heart and yours, one for whom Christ died.

Years ago I had a major surgery and Fred sang a song at church for me, "He Giveth More Grace." I'm singing it for him in my heart tonight:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;

To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,

Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

So as I look toward this week ahead, and prepare my own heart to trust the Lord completely, and to place my husband in the hands of perfect strangers to handle his heart, I do give thanks for this circumstance and know it is God's will for us at this time--the God who knows, who sees, and who cares and will heal.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Conversation With The Brothers...

What is it Daddy? It's called a baby sister. She's really little Daddy. Yes, we have to be very careful with her, son, we could hurt her if we're rough with her. What is she thinking Daddy? Well, I think she's thinking how nice it is to have two big brothers. Will she like my toy trucks Dad? I think she'll want to play with your trucks so she can give her dollies a ride. Dollies? Yes, boys, she'll have lots of dollies to play with and toy dishes. Will she share her dollies with us? Oh yes, she'll learn how to share by watching "the brothers" share with each other. Is she talking to us Daddy? Yes, she's talking to us with her eyes. Can I take her to school with me for show and tell Dad? I think that would be very special, but we'll have to ask Mommy about that. She smells nice, Dad. That's because she's a little flower. Like Flower the Skunk in Bambi, Daddy? I think that's about right, son! Do you like her Daddy? Sons, she's Daddy's little girl and I will always love her and protect her. Daddy? Yes, son? I like her too. She's pretty Daddy. Yes sons, she's pretty, just like her Mommy.

Freddy, Isaac, Baby Annie, and Daddy - May 1977

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Krista Gets Married...

Krista was such a cute little girl. She was tiny and didn't really like Isaac hugging her that much, but she tolerated it pretty well. As a bride, she was stunning. Last weekend we attended her beautiful sunset wedding. She married Jason and it was blending of two lives, two families, and two careers in a lovely Christian ceremony. Karen was the matron of honor and she looked so beautiful. Krista has accomplished much and her parents have a lot to be so very proud of. But in spite of her achievements, she is the same sweet girl with sincerity in everything she does.

The next day we had a bit of reunion. I got to hold Karen's handsome little baby boy, Trent, and listen to him coo and blow bubbles at his mama's soft voice. All the Martin's who had come from out of town gathered for lunch at a restaurant and later at Olen's in Westminster and we had a great time together. Parker and Daniel played like only two cousins can, Freddy and his generation of cousins played and talked and shared, and the Martin boys and Gay visted non stop. We ended the day with singing, hymns, Mickey's solos, and, of course, a final version of the Martin Hannakuh song! A GRAND reunion and loads of fun. Many thanks to Olen for making all the arrangements, and to Sara and her darling baby Christina, and Barney and Gay and family who came from so far away. We really missed those who couldn't be there but we knew they were there in spirit.

"Happy times and bygone days are never lost... In truth, they grow more wonderful within the heart that keeps them."