Saturday, January 26, 2008

Adjustment Lessons

On December 9, 2007 I fell on a slick driveway.

I got in the car and drove to my daughter's apartment about fifteen minutes away. I had to keep my concentration focused and keen. I had to stay calm because something was wrong with my ankle. My daughters took me to the nearby ER.

After x-rays, the attending PA confirmed what we all already knew: my right fibula was broken. I was put in a temporary cast. They gave me crutches, and as the CNA was trying to adjust them for my height I teetered and lost my balance. I should have been forewarned. Two days later, my ankle had to be maneuvered into a 90 degree angle and put in a cast. I chose a bright red one because it is my favorite color.

On December 13, 2007 I was trying to walk a short distance using those same crutches. I lost my balance and fell backwards. I landed on my right wrist. I knew it was broken. Once you have one broken bone, you recognize another one right away.

On December 17, 2007 I had surgery to put a plate on my damaged radius.

And for the next three weeks I was in a wheel chair. Or on the couch. Or in the bed.

Early in January I got the splint off and the stitches out of my wrist. I began the arduous and methodical task of regaining strength and mobility to my hand. I was scheduled to get my cast off of my leg last week. It didn't happen. My fibula wasn't quite healed. For about 45 seconds I thought I was going to cry in front of every one in the office. Holding back those tears took serious effort.

I had broken three bones. Three.

This strange year ended with literal and metaphorical broken bones. Many things that I took for granted, simply ignored, or didn't understand started to crack. And some damaged things in my life just finally finished breaking.


Broken bones--sometimes the breaking is swift and immediate. We insulate ourselves against the injury. Our bodies are designed to send out natural pain killers to numb us for just a little while.

I have been asked many times what lesson was I being taught? What truth did I need to see? I felt irked and unsettled about these questions, but it was an interrogation I was making myself. Inwardly and silently. Do we ever learn what we are supposed to right at the time? Do we even recognize what is being taught?

I have learned to walk with a new gait. Hobbled and slow. There is no grace or elegance in this walk--just a steady plodding from point A to point B. I rarely ever think about point C.

I have learned to compensate for my lack of strength and mobility in my hand and wrist. My elbow and forearm have been employed to counterbalance these tasks. Even my chin and teeth have helped in a pinch.

I have learned that when getting dressed the injured limb is always first. And when attempting to navigate stairs your good leg goes up first and your injured leg goes down first (this one has been hard for me to grasp, and I must repeat this little phrase every time).


I have learned that the breaking isn't nearly as hard as the mending and the healing. The daily discipline to restore mobility and strength can be quite uncomfortable and grueling. The struggle with patience, stillness, and rest can be terribly frustrating.

I am learning that the only true restoratives for any injury are time, rest, following instructions, gradual exercise, and a lot of prayer.

I am learning to be more willing to accept help. During this time of convalescence my daughters have had to take care of me. They have done things I would have never asked them to do. And they have done it willingly and without being asked. I have balked more times than I can count with this, yet I would not made it through this time without them (more of their story will be told in a future post).

I am learning to be willing to admit that I am in pain and to lean on a shoulder for support when offered.

I am learning that my family is far larger than I realized. My immediate family, neighborhood friends, members from our church, homeschooling families, and my library community came to my aid (this story will be told in a future post).

I am learning that some people keep their promises even when there is no obligation or duty to do so.

I am learning that mending is a strange and enigmatic journey. Bones need to knit and fuse back together, but your mental and emotional strands must also be rewoven.

I am learning that this is a time of adjustments. I am in the season of healing and mending.

Have I learned what I needed to learn? I don't know.

The lessons continue.




Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Inscribed Image

Long ago
before I was formed,
you created me in your image.

I have struggled to understand
exactly what this means.

But with David, Jeremiah and Paul,
I declare that before I came to be--
you knew me and my spirit belonged to you.

Aid and increase my understanding;
give me reminders that I will not forget.

Encode your image,
like mathmatical equations
on my DNA
the foundation and building blocks
of my physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual wiring.

Etch your image
like ancient runes
on my bones
the skeletal structures which hold me aright.

Emboss your image
like a signature seal
on the raw clay
of who I am and
who you intend me to be.

Embed your image
like an indelible tattoo
on my sensitive skin and
pierce and penetrate my calloused hide.

Earmark your image
like a visible notch
on the very tender flesh of my ego.

Engrave your image
like chiseled words
on the stony muscle of my heart,
on the hardened tissues of my mind,
on the sinewy threads of my soul.

And with Isaiah,
help me recall and remember
that long before I asked you to do
these things to me--

You engraved me in
and on the palms of your hands.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Second Wind

I Co 9:24; II Tim. 4:7; Heb. 12:1

My dear friend shared with me that twenty years ago at a very hard crossroads in her life, God gave her a second wind. This phrase captured my attention.

www.InfoPlease.com states that a second wind is “the return of relatively easy breathing after the initial exhaustion during continuous exertion.”

Second Wind

Paul says we are running a race. All through his letters he exhorts us to run so that we can win the prize. We are to run and persevere so that we will finish the race.

The race is marked for us. The route mapped out long ago, long before we made an entrance into this world and its history.

But after we have been running for a while, we begin to weary. Our energy flags. Our limbs grow heavy and our breaths become shallow. We can't fill our lungs as deeply as before. We are tired, fatigued, and exhausted. We feel like we are running aimlessly. Circumstances and situations have hidden the purpose of the race. We can’t see the terrain we labor over. Mile after mile, marker after marker the race doesn’t change. But the strength of our exertion does.

Up from the bowels of our spirit we moan—groans and murmurs of our weariness. We want the race to slow or pause. We want to sit down right in the middle of the road. We try to pray, but our prayers seem to be made of unintelligible phrases and incomprehensible words. (But we have the Translator in heaven. Not only does he translate our words, but our meanings and our intents.)

At this point we have reached the very edge of our oxygen supply—we are running close to depletion. In this weariness, in the futility of our own ability, God bends down and gives us a second wind.

Why?

Because he wants us to finish the race.

He wants us to have the prize.

Rarely does he change our circumstances. These have come so that we might learn to persevere. These have come so that our lung capacity might be increased.

But he does fill our lungs, inflates them, billows them. And with his breath comes rich oxygenated blood and we are revived. Our breathing is eased. Our mind clears. He readjusts our inward spiritual metabolism. Our energy is boosted. Our pace quickens. Our energy is restored.

All external factors remain utterly the same, but we have been altered internally.

Give us a second wind, O God.

A third, if necessary.

We want to finish this race.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Borrowed Radiance

I Corinthians 15:40-41
Hebrews 1:3

A dear friend came by last week. She sat in my living room and we engaged in a deep, rich conversation.

We discussed the moon and inner light. Our talk was multi-leveled and seemed random at times, but we could both follow the others’ waves and patterns. I could not stop thinking about the metaphorical thought and idea of our discussion.


Borrowed Radiance

The moon—white and haunting. Orange and stunning.

This rocky, suspended sphere is capable of enormous power and immense influence.
The gravitational force of the moon’s body pulls on the ocean. She draws and gathers the great expanse of the ocean’s water creating ebb and flow. High tide and low tide. Her monthly rituals are recorded, documented, and consulted.

The nightly morphing of the moon is mesmerizing.
She waxes and wanes in a seamless, never-ending pattern.
When she is full she lights the sky with brilliance; all stars fade to the background.
She hangs in the sky—an illuminated orb.
Even when she is new, she is mystical. Faceless and invisible.

She is lovely.
But she has no light of her own.
Her radiance is derived from the sun.
She exudes the reflection of the greater light.
She has a beautiful, but borrowed radiance.

I am like the moon.
I am capable of power and influence.
I have that privilege and responsibility.
Unlike my sister moon,
I have often abused, neglected, and defiled it.

My devotion and faithfulness waxes and wanes.
There are times when I have been full and bright—
For a few brief moments, I have hung dramatically in the dark sky
illuminating the landscape below me.
Other times I reflect no light; I am faceless and invisible.

Like the moon my purpose is to illuminate the darkness.
I can do this only if I can reflect the Great Light—the Creator.
He supplies the brilliance I need—even through all the craters and darkness of my own.
God has given me a special splendor. He has cut the facets of my surface so that I might be a unique reflection of him.

I have no light of my own.

I cannot conjure up another source of true light. Alone I cannot produce real light. I have a tendency to forget this.

New Year's Resolutions?

Let me reflect truth.

Let me rejoice in the splendor that has been given to me.

Let me revel in my borrowed radiance.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Resolved

Luke 9:51

New Year’s Resolutions

Resolution: a formal expression of opinion or intention made. A firm determination. Finding a solution to a problem. (www.websters.com).

While waiting for the “big ball” to drop in Times Square on Monday evening, the ABC hosts asked a question “What are your New Year’s Resolutions? This is one of the most asked questions of the first week of January of any year.

What resolutions will I make? What goals are important enough for me to make a formal expression of intent either in my journal or to my closest friends? I debated whether I would even make resolutions this year. Sometimes they become an indicator of my lack of persistence.

I have numerous one-year devotionals and reading plans that are marked and noted. January and February are filled with ink and involvement. Then the tell-tale signs of fading resolve begin to show. The determination starts to weaken and be sporadic and my notes usually end around March. Only one or two have ever made it to May. My journal is the only exception.

Why bother?

A fragmented detail about Jesus came to my mind. I began to dig—researching and cross-referencing this detail.

Jesus made a resolution in Luke 9:51. In this verse, Jesus sets his face like flint towards Jerusalem. The NIV translates this phrase as Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He was determined to go to Jerusalem.

Jesus’ resolution.

Luke says that Jesus made this resolution as the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven.

Jesus’ resolve was to carry out his Father’s calling. Jesus knew what awaited him in Jerusalem. He made his intent clearly known; he warned his disciples. Then he set his face to God’s plan and purpose.

Along the way there were many needs, hindrances, obstacles, temptations, events, and demands, yet he continued to make his way to the city. Jesus even spent extended visits in some places, but they were only visits. Jesus set his coordinates and locked them. His disciples did not quite understand, and his mother and brothers thought he was crazy. But the course was set to do his Father’s will. His one resolution was to fulfill the plan God had for the salvation of his people.

Jesus’ resolve did not fade and his determination did not weaken. If anything, both grew stronger and more adamant.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give witness that Jesus kept his resolution.

This is my resolution for 2008. I want to set my face like flint to understand and follow God’s purpose and calling for me. I want to have even a modicum of Jesus’ resolve.

Heavenly Father,

This is the beginning of a new year. The cycle of what we called 2007 is done, but for you it is an endless loop. You do not mark time as we do. You are not bound or limited by this demanding taskmaster. I am so grateful that you see far beyond. You see how what I do and don't do in 2008 will affect 2009 and 2018.

I don’t want to make resolutions for the sake of saying I did. I don’t want to write down goals that are arbitrary and ineffective. I want a resolve like Jesus’. I want you to help me to finish what I start. I want my resolutions to be beneficial to me, but also to others. So, my resolutions must begin with you. They must be rooted in your purpose for me.

Give me the courage and stamina to set my face like flint. Show me what you want me to work on, through and in during the following 365 days. Give me a sense of purpose as you did Jesus. Like him I will encounter obstacles, temptations, and events that will try to deter and detour the purpose and path I have set before me.

But you set my face. Keep me walking and traveling toward you.

Amen and amen.





Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Portals

January 1, 2008

Ah, everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions:

To do, not do
Eat, not eat
Be more, be less
Listen more, talk less
Spend time, guard time
Create new habits, eradicate old ones
Have more fun, be more serious.

We want magical transformation. This season carries an aura of the unknown—With eagerness we scan the blank pages of our new day planners. Our calendar squares have not yet been filled. There are fixed dates: holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, but they are open and hollow. What will 2008 hold?

We have no idea.

2007 held events, encounters, and emotions that I would have never rightly imagined. I expected the highs and lows. But I did not anticipate the breadth, depth, and intensity of them.

There were challenges met and unmet.
Dreams realized and lost.
Nightmares revealed and dispelled.
Surprises opened and closed.
Mistakes confessed and ignored.
And there were failures acknowledged and shunned.

Last year on this day, I stood on the portal of 2007. The year was stretched before me like a grosgrain ribbon. If I had seen around and beyond the bends and twists of 2007 would I have continued?

God knew what I would face. He knew what those 365 days held.

Black days. Mean and smothering.
Bleak days. Gray-toned and flat.
Blissful days. Hopeful and light.
Banal Days. Surviving and coping.
Beautiful days. Revelatory and vivid.

In many ways I believe 2008 will be the same.

But I will not.

I am not the same woman who stood at 2007’s portal.

Even as I type those words, I am wonderfully startled. In this incredible moment I understand and recognize that I have great love and respect and hope for this woman.

Actually I like her.

I laugh with this new and stronger Tamera because we know the transformation has not been magical. No, it has taken hard work and deep grace. But it has been purposeful and beneficial.

We will link arms and traverse the grosgrain ribbon of 2008 together.