Thursday, October 30, 2008

Misadventures and Miracles

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. – Isaiah 46:4

When something goes wrong in the medical world, doctors call it a “medical misadventure.” Tuesdays seem to be my family’s day for misadventures this month, and Wednesdays are our miracle days. This week is no different.

You may recall that last Tuesday I got word that my grandmother was gravely ill, but on Wednesday, I was blessed with the news that she made a turn for the better. She is still holding her own this week and I am going to Arkansas to see her next month.

This Tuesday, my phone rang at 10:00 at night. Phone calls at 10:00 p.m. rarely bring good news, and this one was no exception. My parents were in a horrible car accident. They were passengers in a friend’s car on I-25, the main highway through Denver, when a man driving at a speed the police estimate to be 110 miles per hour crashed into them. The impact sent the car that my parents were in spinning in circles across the highway until they hit a retaining wall on the side of the road and the airbags deployed. The other car flipped onto its side, and from this precarious position, the driver actually managed to open the exposed door and climb through, and ran off down the interstate on foot.

My parents were taken by ambulance to Denver General Medical Center, which is the state’s primary hospital for both the most severe traumas and people who don’t have insurance coverage. This combination makes for an emergency room very much like what you see on the television show “ER” when there is a citywide crisis, except that this emergency room is about four times bigger than the one on TV, and I got the impression it is always crowded and crazy.

When I got there, a security guard walked me into the building and to a reception area. The guard took my purse and handed it to a person working the main desk to be searched. This wasn’t the kind of search you get at a football game where the attendant sort of peeks in to make sure there is nothing big or obvious poking out. I am pretty sure this guy trained with the Transportation Safety Administration, because he really searched. I was beginning to wonder if I would be swabbed for explosives as he asked if I had any knives, pepper spray, or other weapons. He finally surrendered my purse and issued me a visitor’s pass that I was to keep with me at all times. Then another security guard escorted me to my parents. We left the over-stuffed waiting room and made our way through a maze of hallways where patients on gurneys were actually being treated in the halls because there were no more “curtains” available. One man was sitting up in a regular hospital bed in the hallway. I was relieved to find both of my parents resting behind the same “curtain.”

To make a five-hour story short, things didn’t look too good when I arrived at the hospital. My parents and their friends were involved in what very easily could have been a fatal accident. God was clearly holding them in his hands, because once the blood was washed away, the X-rays and CAT scans taken, the neck braces removed, and blood tests performed, my parents were discharged. My father left the hospital with no medical treatment of any kind. My mother had a large cut on her forehead, but the doctor who stitched it up said he expected of a full recovery. My parent’s friends were taken to a different hospital where the husband received four staples to a cut in the back of his head. His wife suffered the most serious injury—a cracked sternum. There is no treatment for this, so on Wednesday morning, all four of them miraculously went home to sleep in their own beds and work through the bruises, black eyes, swelling, aches and pains to come. Once again, Tuesday’s misadventure ended in Wednesday’s miracle.

It has not escaped my attention that God is probably trying to teach us something through these events, and He likely has a different lesson for each of us. For me, I think it has to do with not just understanding that He is in control of my life, but actively living in a way that acknowledges this fact. Proverbs 19:21 tells us, “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

My plans for the day suddenly seemed insignificant after spending the night in the emergency room. I had no problem bowing out of different responsibilities last week when I thought I would make an emergency trip to Arkansas. Seeing how insignificant my plans truly are gives me a new perspective on the time I dedicate to God. Activities that once seemed so important can now wait until I have prayed about what God wants from me during the day.

Perhaps I can teach my children this lesson before they have day timers and schedules. I think there is an element of pride in having a busy day, and business outside of God’s will is just a waste of effort and energy. If I can instill this truth in my kids before they get sucked into “planner prison,” it could be a blessing to them. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on how to do this, please share them.

I am thankful that I am now busy praising God for protecting my parents and for holding them during this accident. Please join me in praying for their speedy recoveries.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

False Alarm

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." - Zephaniah 3:17

On Tuesday, my mom gave me the news that my 90-year-old grandmother had fallen and cracked her pelvis. “They got a hospital bed for the house because she won’t be able to get up and move around,” my mom explained, “but it sounds like things are going okay.”

But later that night, I called my aunt who lives with and cares for my grandmother. I got a much more complete, and grim, picture of the situation from her. The report sent me packing for a trip to Arkansas. With a single phone call, I found that my life for the next six days would be different from what my daily planner outlined.

After gagging over the high price of last-minute airline tickets, my dad and I decided to make the fifteen-hour drive from Colorado to northern Arkansas. I alerted the people I had commitments to that I would be unable to uphold my end of the deal because I was heading out of town. I threw in loads of laundry and started making preparations to help things go smoothly for my family in my absence. Most of all, however, I prayed. I asked for comfort and protection for my grandmother, and that she would live long enough for me to see her one last time. I prayed for peace for my aunt, because I cannot begin to imagine the stress of providing full-time care for someone in my grandmother’s condition. I prayed that my dad and I would have a safe trip and not arrive too stiff to bend over and hug my grandmother.

When I spoke with my aunt the next day, my life changed again with one phone call. “I don’t know who I am looking at,” my aunt exclaimed. “Mom is suddenly doing great!” She was sitting up, feeding herself, even singing. And since so much family had already arrived in Arkansas, we decided to hold off on our trip for a few weeks. I hadn’t realized that I had been holding my breath for the past twelve hours until I finally let it out. My muscles tingled with release as I moved from physical action mode to mental processing mode in the span of three seconds.

This experience gave me a good reminder, yet again, of how quickly life can change. Our expectations for a day, or a week, or longer, can shift with the ring of the phone. The people around us can too. Those closest to us are like fine china—precious and fragile, and designed to be appreciated. There are a surprising number of “to do” items in my planner that are easy to skip over when something, or someone, more important needs attention. And if I really think about it, there is always someone more important who should get my attention, rather than the unnecessary distractions of modern life.

Who are you going to focus on today?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unexpected Journey

Hello, faithful readers. I am sorry I have been a bad blogger for the past week. Life ran away from me last week and I never made the time to sit down and post. Today I am heading for Arkansas to see my grandmother who fell and cracked her pelvis. Unfortunately, she is not doing well, so my kids, my dad and I are packing into the car and making the 15-hour trek to see her. Please keep my grandmother's health and our safe travels in your prayers. I will be back next week with a regular post.

Thank you and blessings on you and your families,


Friday, October 10, 2008

Out In The Cold

Then God said, "I've given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth And every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food. To all animals and all birds, everything that moves and breathes, I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.” And there it was. - Genesis 1:29-30

You’ve no doubt heard the news this week that pharmaceutical companies are now acknowledging what pediatricians have said for years—cold medicines don’t work in young kids. The unnerving part is that they are also admitting that some remedies may even be harmful.

Reports seem to differ, but the information I most consistently find warns not about individual medicines given at recommended doses, but rather the risk of accidental overdose when giving different medicines that contain the same ingredients.

The other area where I find different recommendations is on the age at which children need alternative therapies. Most of the reports say to avoid over the counter cold medicines for kids ages four and under, but some suggest protecting kids under the age of six.

If you have identified a cold remedy that actually works for your child and she tolerates it well, I’d stock up now because it probably won’t be on the shelf for long. The stores in my area dropped most children’s cold products, with the exception of a few syrups, last year when pediatricians publicly spoke out against these treatments.

So without over the counter medicines, what can we moms do to comfort our littlest patients? I have had luck soothing sore throats and coughing with popsicles (avoid the cream-style type if your child has a lot of phlegm or mucus). Citrus flavors seem to cut through that yucky cottonmouth sensation the best. Try for varieties made from natural juices without added sugar.

Diluted or weak tea also feels good on sore throats. When I make my pot of tea in the morning, I pour a little in the mug of whoever is sick and fill the rest with cool water. This brings it down to a drinkable temperature and also cuts the caffeine to a kid-friendly level.

Grandmas, doctors, and patients everywhere agree that chicken soup truly is one of the best treatments for a cold. There is actual scientific proof to support this as well.

If your child is old enough not to choke on it, a natural, non-medicated throat lozenge can help control a cough.

When noses start running, a little Vaseline rubbed into the skin just inside each nostril can help prevent (or soothe) irritating chapping. When my kids were babies I used Little Noses brand non-medicated gel for this, but now they prefer old-fashioned Vaseline.

Tummies full of drainage are settled by toast and ginger ale or 7-Up. I try to avoid Sprite because it is a little on the sweet side and can further upset an unhappy tummy.

As in most things, I find our faithful God provides the main things we need to stay healthy and recover when we do get a cold. Our bodies use whole, unprocessed foods better than any other kind. If it looks like something Adam and Eve would have found in the garden (like an apple or a stalk of broccoli) than it probably is good at helping your body stay healthy. If it looks like a box (say of cake mix) then you are better off leaving it on the grocery store shelf this cold season. If it comes in a package and you recognize all of the ingredients as real foods, then enjoy it. If you have to sound out anything on the label, don’t add it to your cart. I really don’t even like foods with added vitamins—real, whole foods already have naturally occurring vitamins so I don’t want synthetic ones added in.

You undoubtedly have some home remedies of your own for fighting cold symptoms. Share what works for your kids. Here’s to staying healthy!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Getting Un-Stuck In The Moment

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

My poor husband is stuck. He recently spent three days rebuilding our snow blower, and now he can’t wait for the white stuff to start falling so he can test his handiwork. Every time the weather report comes on the television news he asks, “Any snow in the forecast?” He is so stuck in his longing for snow that he is missing one of the most beautiful autumns we’ve had in years.

However, I realized this week that he is not the only one in our family struggling with this issue. I have been so busy working with the publisher on the final stages of my book that I have been missing the reasons I started writing in the first place. The time I used to spend praising and worshiping God through the written word, and hearing His guidance and direction in the process, has been replaced by a preoccupation with sales projections and marketing plans. I’ve gotten myself stuck in the business of publishing and have been missing the gift of writing.

We all go through phases like this, especially with our kids. How many of us wished away days of early childhood waiting for something more exciting? We look forward to our child’s first step, first word, first day of school, first time we can leave him home alone, first time she drives herself to soccer practice. Before we know it, our kids are heading off for the first semester of college or first apartment. In between all of those firsts is the life we don’t want to miss.

I think tonight I am going to get my husband and kids to go on an after-dinner walk so we can enjoy the warm, golden autumn of the Colorado countryside. We won’t talk about snow, or publishing, or the concerns of tomorrow. We will just enjoy and appreciate the beauty of today.