Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Tough seasons don't last, but they sure test you on the way

   ‘And I...and I...’  Miss Five was doing her best to explain the excitement of being confined to a hospital bed in an isolation ward. ‘I can have brekkie, lunch and dinner in my bed! And they moved me from one place to another on my bed!’
   The last few days have been one of those times you’re glad you only have to live it once! In the past six months our family has walked some challenging roads. Five or more times, we've seen the inside of emergency rooms. 
   One time a granddaughter arrived in ambulance in full spinal precaution. Another trip ended in an appendectomy. Then, on another occasion, we were given an appointment for an MRI where they were looking for a ‘space invading lesion in the brain’. And now the littlest one has one arm attached to an IV machine and the other hand lying idle as it is covered with massive blisters. As well as that we've discovered the wonders of epipens. This is a small device that when activated injects enough adrenalin into ones system that it stops life threatening allergic reactions. Three times in eight days they've injected into one of my kids as she is grabbing at her throat, struggling to breath.
   As I tell this story very calmly all appears to be well. However, perchance I had put on my novelist hat and helped you experience the emotion of these last months, it would be a different story! And where was God whilst all this is happening?
   To answer the question, let me tell you another grandchildren story. Some years back, we were blessed with two baby granddaughters in one year. They were born healthy, strong and gorgeous. When the first one was six days old, she was rushed into emergency with raging temperatures. Doctors did a spinal tap, looking for meningitis. They inserted a drip into her tiny veins and poured antibiotics into her for eight days before her exhausted mother could bring her home to her brother and sisters.
   When the second beautiful baby was about three months old, her mother, for some unexplainable reason, checked her in the night. Her skin was burning hot. They raced to the hospital where doctors did a spinal tap and then administered antibiotics.
   I was mad, hopping mad! What was going on that two of my little babies would have to suffer this way. Where was my God? Why wasn't He on the job?
   So I went to God demanding answers. ‘What is going on? These are my grandchildren! We've prayed for them, covered them with your protection. How could you let them suffer this way?’
   In the silence, after my ranting was spent, I heard a little voice. I could sense the pain of one falsely accused.
   ‘But, Jo. I saved them both for you.’
   Those few words broke my anger and humbled me, moved my complaint into worship. Yes, they could easily have died, have become statistics in the cot death numbers, or be among those who succumb to meningitis. God did work on my behalf.
   So as I reflect on these few days of drama, I am thankful; thankful for medicine that is fighting infection, thankful for doctors, thankful for an epipens that save lives. I'm thankful for the loan of my friend’s car. Thankful for countless little things. I'm thankful that God looks after our finances and so there is no need for me to count the dollars as they fly out of my purse. He will meet all our needs.
   I watch and pray as assault after assault hits my family. I know this is a season and it will pass. God does have all things working together for good - for everyone’s good. I'm expecting great things after the battle. All battles do end and I know the plunder will be good.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

This Time its Divorce

    This time it is divorce  I'm determined. I've threatened it before, but never carried through. There is always some excuse, some lame look that makes me run back.
    Why? Why do I go back to the abuse and the lies? Why do I swallow the perception that she is good for me? She is so attractive that I end up succumbing again. When freshly dressed in white, accompanied by her heady perfume I'm putty in her hands. She is so soft to touch and comforting.
    Yet our relationship always leads to abuse. Although my belly is often swollen and sore, there is never enough evidence to bring a clear conviction that she caused it. I feel the pain, but if anyone else notices they don't connect it to abuse by this long term partner of mine.
    I can't remember when this relationship began. I know I was only little, maybe only one. I do remember as a child frolicking extravagantly with her. Even then, I felt the abuse in my gut, but didn't connect the two.
    She arrived every Wednesday and Saturday, just in time for lunch, always dressed in white with that strong, heady perfume. All other friends were pushed aside at the table as she took pride of place, usually with jam and thick cream. I guess what followed was a gluttony of sorts but we saw it as a celebration and I ignored my mothers dire warnings.
    As I grew older, I left home for boarding school and then college. She followed. I distinctly remember spreading Vegemite and jam (yes, together) with her at boarding school. Somehow in those days, the softness and aroma weren't the same. Not being so attractive, I wan't so co-dependant and the abuse was infrequent.
   But in the last twenty years, I've seen the facts more clearly leading to times of total separation. You know the story. "Get out of my life! You have nearly destroyed me! Look at me! Fat, bloated, blotchy and depressed. I'm blaming you. Now, get out."
   And I remain strong, resolute, determined until one day, with out warning, there she is. She walks in beside the grand kids or turns up at my elbow at a public function, unavoidable, soft, fragrant and so attractive. I justify a short interaction, just for old times sake. But like smoking one cigarette, it is hard to say goodbye and walk away. Soon I find her back in my house and I indulge in long sessions of deep intimacy. We pull out butter, cheese, jam and honey and enjoy each others company.
   Then I realise - I've been hoodwinked again. I throw her out! She doesn't resist, just smiles and gives me that  knowing look. 'I'll be back.'
   These days I've done some snooping. I discover that she has been charged with abuse. Yes, an invisible abuse that results in bloating, discomfort and, in the long term, obesity and other nasty conditions.
   So I'm resolute. Here in this public forum I declare: "White bread, I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you! Be gone. I will never commune with you again.'
   I've done it! Victory! She's gone.
   I do hope she takes her relatives with her. Though I will miss Swiss Grain loaf, banana bread and rye wraps. Do you think it is okay to visit her family occasionally?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Floods of water and gratitude

    Just before the Australia day floods a young girl gave birth to a baby boy. No, not these Australia Day floods. The big ones, back in 1974, when the unbelievable happened. The river flooded to heights that we couldn't imagine, but were seen on our TV screen. We were stranded behind flooded rivers and broken bridges and it was days before I could join a mud army. One day, sifting through one china cabinet, redeeming crystal glasses from gooey, stinking mud, was enough for the smell to permeate my memory for ever!
    But I digress. Back then in 1974, during the rain that always precedes a flood, a young girl birthed a gorgeous child. And I will be forever grateful. I imagine she was overwhelmed and frightened by the experience. I hope her home wasn't flooded after she walked away and left her baby for us to raise.
    Over the years as we've watched this baby grow and develop into a strong well balanced young man and then embrace the challenges of fatherhood, I've often thought of her. Does she think of him, her son? Does she think of me?
    I know she is lovely. Her son is a wonderful man. He carries her DNA. I also know she requested her little boy be placed in a Christian home. She cared enough to do the best she could do for him.
I wonder...where she is now? Does she have other children? Is she a grandmother?
I'd like to meet her, to say thank you, to hear her story and give her a hug. But our common son chooses not to find her, and that is his choice. He claims I'm his mother so why should he go looking for another. As I said he's a lovely son.
    But as the deluge of water fell on our state at the time of his birthday, the memories flooded back. I remember again a young girl, labouring on my behalf, bringing me years and years of love, joy and pleasure.
    If you are listening, please accept my gratitude.