Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update 3/31/10 Day 142

Dear friends,

Sometimes I'm completely befuddled by the way events can smack you hard, and make you lose your footing. You would think that living for a while with the precarious nature of life on planet earth, one would get used to its hellish turns. But one doesn't.

I learned tonite that the 50 year old brother of a very dear friend died suddenly of heart failure. His elderly parents are left to sort out the whys of this disaster, as they bury their firstborn son. This scenario repeats itself in a thousand places. If any of us are looking for security here, we can forget it. I may sound kind of pessimistic, but I don't believe I am. It's a reality I have experienced, as have many of you. The question is not, "will I be faced with something that shakes my foundations?", but when. And when I am, how do I make sense of it? Big questions, which I'm way too small to answer.

Steve had an ultrasound today by his PT, to see if anything shows up to give some insight into his knee pain. She couldn't see anything on the scan, so we may just have to take it to Dr. Bagchi for a look-see. Those blasted bones of his broke in a bunch of pieces right around the knee joint, so it's not strange that he's experiencing pain. He never complains, but I know. Let's put it this way: the man won't be trying out for the US gymnastics team, or for a part as the pratfall person in the latest goofy comedy. But it would be nice if he could lie on his side in bed without an ouch every time he turns.

On a lighter note, we bought our kids their Easter candy today. We have cut back greatly on the amount of chocolate, but the quality is now through the roof. Each child is getting a Lindt bunny and some lambs. Really, too much of that stuff is no good for them. But the good chocolate is so delicious, and they will each get a gift card to go with the yummies. The guy who sold us the chocolate was such a peach. We had a nice little conversation with him, and I wished I could cross his path again in life. It would be entirely inappropriate to invite him to our house for dinner, but that's what I felt like doing. People float my boat. I admit, some annoy me, but most enlighten me in some way or other. And I am quite sure I annoy some folks too... I know, hard to believe...

Good things today:
Saw our dear Judy W., and prayed for her with our whole cell group.
Met the candy guy.
The great Officer Ernie dropped off a couple of reports we needed. We love that cop!
Talked to our mechanic, Darlin' Derek, who inspected our Honda without a hitch.
Went to Bethlehem Library, where Sweet Sue and Smitty finally met up again!
There's more, but it might get a little long.

What do all these things have in common? Relationships! Love God, love people. The End. The Great One is complex and mighty and untamable. But He makes very clear the majors. He keeps it simple for simple folks like me. He says to me loud and clear "don't waste your life in pursuit of worthless things." I'm wanting to spend it pursuing The Lover of All Souls. And loving the souls he puts in my path. Even the ones that annoy me. Even the ones I annoy.

You all make me so glad. I pray you'll enjoy God and people greatly today. Yes, life takes hellish turns. But it also is laced with reckless joy.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Update 3/30/10 Day 141

Dear friends,

I was working at Albany Med tonite, when Nurse Joyce approached me. I had known her a little bit, but tonite I got to know her alot better when she told me a story you all know from a different point of view.

On November 8, Joyce was shadowing in the Emergency Room. The hospital does this sometimes to give nurses who work on other floors a feel for what goes on down there. Joyce got more experience than she ever bargained for that particular Sunday night. Her emotions while detailing what she saw were plain to see. She was shaken. She was moved by scenes of love and mercy. And she was relieved to know that almost 5 months later, Stephen and Hannah are recovering well.

From her perspective, a father of three was rocketed into trauma room A2, and his little girl was already next door in room A1. She recalled to me some of her memories. The ER nurse told her that Steve couldn't take the preferred painkillers, because they impacted blood pressure and his was already in the danger zone. She told Joyce they would give him a certain opiate that would be less dangerous, but would make him feel like he was having a "bad trip". She recollected the nurses squeezing the blood units to get blood in faster than it drained out. She herself kept fetching more and more pads, which soaked through with blood as soon as they were put on Smitty's legs. When he was put in the CT scanner, there was a great fear he wouldn't make it out because his pressure was so tenuous. She said he was just a "mass of broken, exposed bones". And she recalled how his feet had begun to turn black from lack of circulation, putting him in danger of gangrene and amputation.

Unbelievable, isn't it? Let's face it, we have all witnessed a miracle. The Great One simply put up His hand and said, "this far and no farther". She reminded me of some things I said which I didn't remember. And then she said the sweetest thing: "I remember your older son coming in to sing to Hannah". And I told her," that wasn't my son, that was our Youth Pastor. But I would be happy to call him my son..." Pastor Greg, those moments were a true picture of love to nurse Joyce. And even though Hannah's mind doesn't remember, I truly believe those songs are forever anchored as medicine in her precious soul. Thank you.

And when Joyce told me how "strong" I was, I inwardly laughed. I told her about the supernatural grace that I experienced. Strong, that's a laugh. Only the Great One and I know the reality of my weakness. If anyone saw anything strong, it's because the Rock I was standing on is immovable. I'm not trying to sound modest here. Think about it. Anyone going through this kind of thing would crumble without Someone truly strong to hold them up. "God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever..."

Thank you Joyce, and all you dedicated, wonderful, compassionate folks who worked the ER trauma rooms on that surreal night. He lost alot of blood, but he didn't die. His feet turned black, but he didn't lose a single limb. He made it out of that CT scanner, out of a bed, out of a wheelchair, out of a walker, and into his home, his car, his office. We'll be standing with our mouths open before the Great One as long as we live. Remarkable, stunning Savior.

Time for bed. Can't wait to talk to you all again tomorrow. You bless my heart.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


P.S. Remember Judy W!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Update 3/28/10 19 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

It was positively surreal this evening, back at work at Albany Med, on a Sunday. My excellent friend Jackie was sitting across from me, much as it was 19 weeks ago. So many memories came rushing back, some of them painful but most of them good. I thought of the noble, hardworking people who rescued Stephen and Hannah from the wreck. I remembered the trauma team in the ER, painstakingly stitching Hannah's cuts and lacerations. My dear Pastors, Pastor Dave and Pastor Greg, and Sisters Laurie and Lisa absorbing all the hard news with me. I can still see the faces in the waiting room, so many faces, sharing our suffering, praying like there was no tomorrow. Steve's family, travelling in the middle of the night from far away places to be here in case Stephen died. And on, and on, and on. Then, winter was closing in. Now, winter is trekking out. I guess our lives will always have an invisible dividing line on November 8, 2009. I'm not far enough out to know for sure. But from my present, limited perspective I would gamble on it.

The Great One deserves mountains of praise for all He has done during these intense weeks. Stephen is not only walking, he's working. And this morning, my sweet Miss Rejoice played keyboard and sang back up during worship at church. (Our youth "Generation Church", executed the entire service this Palm Sunday). I was the human sponge watching her there, able to experience life and worship and God. No, everything is not perfect, but it never will be this side of heaven. Still, it is beyond all I could have hoped. And time will continue to show the work of God in the lives of my loved ones. Stunning.

I think you will find my posts on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays will be getting shorter. I'm a working girl again, and I don't get home until 11:15, so something's got to give. But I have a commitment to write a blog entry every night, whether anyone ever reads it or not. (I do so appreciate all of you who do read. I continue to be flabbergasted by the folks who approach me to tell me they read every day!) Ultimately, though, this public diary is an act of devotion to the One and Only, and He has, I believe, directed me to keep writing until it's time to stop. I'd like to get through to November 8, 2010. So many doctors have told me, "wait a year". And really, at this point in my life, 365 days rocket by. I know I'll have some kind of view from this mountain by then, and alot more perspective.

I close with a bit of the Psalm that meant so much to me in the early days of this experience:

"The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice;
My cry came before Him, into His ears."
Psalm 18:4-6

Thank you, my most dear Friend, greater than the highest earthly king, kind, loving and forgiving, full of grace and truth. To you I owe it all. Help me live what I believe!

And to you, my companions here on the dusty plain of our mortal lives, what can I say? You have given me hope. You make me better than I am. You make me climb much higher than I ever could without you. We've got a ways to go. But we're doing it. We're doing it!

Peter J., I'm so proud of you I could bust! Your message this morning was absolutely inspiring! I know the Great One was beaming too, at your humility and love for the lonely, hurting, frustrated souls without hope in this world. Thanks for reminding us it's our job every day to seek them out and love them for who they are.

Keep praying for Judy W. Thank you, and I mean it sincerely.

Your tired, grateful friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Update 3/27/10 Day 138

Dear friends,
Houston, we have liftoff. Stephen Smith now has his own car once again. It's charming little Honda Civic, and will transport him very nicely back and forth to work. If you follow this blog, you know we purchased it from Steve's cousin, the great Peggy Ann, who is as kind and caring a soul as you'll find on God's green earth. Here is a photo of P.A., Sharon the Cheerful, Aunt Peggy (who is not 87, by the way, she's 88!), and the man himself. We met them in Newburgh, NY and had a little visit at a restaurant there. A total pleasure! P.A. put so much into that car before selling it to us, she most certainly lost money on the deal. Please disregard her Yankees sweatshirt. Even the best of them have their flaws...

On the way home I popped in an older CD by Point of Grace, and played my favorite song by them, "Steady On". Listen to these lyrics:

"Steady me, when the road ahead gets rocky
Ready me, for the fears I cannot see
Lord won't you let me be a witness to your promise
Won't you steady me... Lead me, Steady On..."
I have been a witness to His promise, and He has steadied me on the rocky road. I was living the high life driving home in my Dodge Caravan, feeling a joy money can't buy, looking at deer on the side of the road made golden by the 6:30 sun, and knowing that no worldly pleasures can match the absolute jubilation of living life with God. Believe me, I don't say this arrogantly. I say it full of gratitude, because I know myself far too well. This very morning, I woke up with fear coursing through my veins. I run some nasty specials. It's only the Great One who can lift us up beyond our normal responses. I know I'll struggle with stuff til the day I die, but I also know He'll be there to lead me steady on. Later on in the song the lyrics say:

"As the narrow road gets crowded, Lord, won't you lead me steady on..."

I love that the narrow road can be crowded. And that when I start veering off, folks like you grab me by the collar and pull me back on. Thanks for having my back.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Friday, March 26, 2010

Update 3/26/10 Day 137

Dear friends,
Judy the Good reminded me today that I never published any photos of my beautiful Adirondack bedroom for the Bloggies to see. So here they are. Thank you again to all of you who made this happen! It's a lovely, restful place for us to be.

Steve is on the couch, with his legs on pillow mountain. They're bothering him a little today. I can see that Shrek foot from here, and his ankles do look swollen. Amazing, after all this time there is still lots of healing to go. His legs got mightily beat up. His lymphatic network and blood vessels are all being rebuilt by his body, cell by cell, protein by protein, little by little. He's doing many things now, like bringing the rubbish to the transfer station, but everything takes longer. So what? I'm so happy to have him home. We're learning how to slow down and be okay with it.

Miss Rejoice is out with Miss Lauren and Miss Heather tonite, seeing Columbia High's production of "Aida". Hannah says she would like to be in a play herself next year. She continues to mend, and I continue to stand in awe of all the Great One has done for her, and for Stephen, and for all of us. Hallelujah! This road is winding, with curves ahead no one can see around. It's true for all of us. God stands outside of it all and knows. He's all set up to be our "ever present help in times of trouble". Or our protector from the dangers of prosperity and pride. Nothing takes Him by surprise.

Joe is at band practice, David is playing some Super Mario something or other, Stephen is talking to his mom (who, by the way, has called him every day he has been conscious since November 8), and we are about to watch "A Hole in the Head", directed by the great Frank Capra. It stars Frank Sinatra. I told you, we are pretty boring around here, especially on Friday evenings. I most likely will fall asleep on the couch, if I can find any room around all the pillows. Tomorrow we drive south to get our new car from cousin Peggy Ann. And apparently Steve's Aunt Peggy, a spry young lady at age 87, is coming for the ride to see her darling godson. We are so looking forward to seeing these dear folks who prayed their hearts out for Steve and Hannah. And we'll zip back to Albany with our "new" Honda Civic, just in time for Steve to have a car at home when I go back to work on Sunday. I have forgotten all my computer passwords. I have a feeling I'll be spending a bit of Sunday with the help desk people...

Goodnite, friends. Remember the words of the Great One: "Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me." I'm praying that for you tonite. Thank you for sticking with us on the long road, with all the curves behind and before us.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Update 3/25/10 Day 136

Dear friends,

Tickets to premiere movie at Crossgates Cinemas: $0
Night out with the girls: priceless

The Book says "A merry heart doeth good like medicine". How true it is! I had the privilege of the company of Nancy the Nice, Kind Karen and Effervescent Arleen for dinner and a sneak preview of the new Nicholas Sparks movie "The Last Song". (Thank you to Nancy's daughter Erica for the free tix!) Erica and her friend joined us for the movie viewing, which of course, has a story attached.

As for my movie review...well, this one is for the Twilight set. I'm the wrong person to ask anyway. I rarely see a movie post 1950, so my taste is a bit skewed. End of review. Now for the ridiculous part: When I am out of the house, I keep my cell phone strapped to my person at all times. I guess I'm a bit gun shy, what with the unpredictability of life kind of dropping itself into my lap. Also, I've got a partially crippled guy at home with 3 kids. So I put the thing on vibrate, thinking I was being ever so polite, and stuck it in my coat pocket. Well, about half way through the film I feel the phone buzz. So I discreetly lift it out of my coat and check to make sure Smitty isn't calling. Zoom. Up the stairs like a flash comes the movie police. He called me Sweety, was very nice, and asked me to turn off my phone. I told him it was on vibrate, and thinking we were both okay with that, returned the offending technology to my pocket. Some 20 minutes later, another buzz. Again I open the phone, only this time the movie cop isn't calling me Sweety. This time he starts talking about "either I turn the thing off or I can present my license and have a chat with the FBI. I'm a little miffed, thinking this is over the top, when Karen the Kind leans over and ever so sweetly says to me "It's because it's a premiere and they think you're trying to tape the movie". So I tell the gentleman I will turn it off, wanting like mad to tell him why I had it on in the first place, but you can't have a conference in the middle of a movie. Meanwhile, Effervescent Arlene is biting her lip, and the movie cop is blocking her view, and Nancy the Nice is telling her daughter what a trouble maker I am. When the lights came up I felt like a federal felon, waiting to be cuffed and dragged off to some room where they would shine bright lights on me and make me eat jello till I confessed all. In reality, I was royally razzed by my friends, who I can assure you will still be telling this story 5 years from now. Do you remember my "driving over grass" story when the East Greenbush police stopped me? Well, this one goes in the annals of my trouble with the law.

I'm telling you, I laughed so hard walking back to the car with those girls my gut hurt. At home, I got to thinking about what the problem was. I didn't have the whole picture. I didn't understand the why, until Karen told me. Think about that. I mean, this is an amusing story (at least I think so!), but in life what we don't understand can hurt us. That's why the Great One spent thousands of years pounding truth into His beloved people with the law. But He wasn't about to stop there. He sent His own Son to lean over, lean in right where we live and tell us the WHY. "For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life!" He so loves us, friends. That's the big Why. Ignorance is not bliss. So God sends His Son, leaves His Spirit, and gives us His word. He wants it to be crystal clear, so we don't miss the point. Truth makes that big lightbulb go on over our head.

Tonite was pure joy. Since November 8, relationships mean more to me than ever. And I know they take time. But shouldn't we spend our time on what life is all about? Love God, love people. The End. I've got to learn this well. And to keep my cell phone off during a preview of a new movie.

Keep the prayers coming for our dear Judy W. I can't thank you enough for that.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


P.S. If an FBI agent asks if you know me, mums the word.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Update 3/24/10 Day 135

Dear friends,

I have a definite opinion about jello. Capable Carol brought some over tonite for our cell group meeting. Now Carol is a fabulous cook. Her ham dinners are the stuff of legend. But jello is bad stuff. It has a slimy consistency, it slides off the spoon, and it comes in colors not ever found in nature. Jello is the Edsel of the food world. It simply was a mistake to invent it. Now I hope I'm not offending anyone, but you know honesty is my policy. Jello must go. It's too unpredictable, too slippery, and too...jelloey.

Smitty (who is also in the anti jello camp), had therapy today at the aptly named Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. We've been connected to them for so long now, it will be kind of sad when it's time to finally go. God bless those dear people who work in that place of hope. No doubt about it, the Great One put us there for our good, from November 18, when Hannah was first an inpatient in the Brain Injury Unit, to the present, where Stephen receives the very best in outpatient physical and occupational therapy. I remember arriving there with my little girl, wondering what in the world I was doing in the TBI unit of a rehab hospital. She was still a very sick little pup when we first got there. I remember getting down on the floor and crying out to God to bring her out of the flat, emotionless bubble she was trapped in. He answered in His mercy, and Hannah continues to amaze everyone with the long strides of her recovery. A number of her teachers (outstanding is the adjective for these folks, who have been foot soldiers in the day to day of helping our daughter climb her mountain) emailed me today in response to some questions I had. Imagine the joy to my heart to hear how hard Hannah is working, and how superbly she is doing, especially in light of the past 4 plus months! I pray the Great One will multiply back to Hannah's teachers a thousand times all the love and care they have put into her. We are mightily blessed to have them.

I read a passage from scripture today from "The Message" translation of the bible. I typically use the NIV, but this passage really captured me today when I thought about it:

"You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You're blessed when you follow His directions, doing your best to find Him. That's right - you don't go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set..." Psalm 119:1-3

As surely as morning follows night, I long to "walk the steady road revealed by God". How many times I have not! How many times I have drifted off, like jello off a spoon, not wanting to follow the way of life, and looking for satisfaction where it cannot be found. Such error there is in thinking about God's instruction as limiting! On the contrary, it is liberating. He alone knows the snares up ahead, and it is because He wants us to truly experience the abundant life that he lays a right path before us. We aren't puppets however. He'll never force us to "do our best to find Him." And He's not hard to find. He's at your kid's baseball game. He's in the middle of your happy joking at dinner. He's on the scene of a horrible car accident. He's behind the bars of a maximum security prison. He's walking the halls of Sunnyview Hospital. Everywhere there is hope, or trouble, or need, or joy, or any other facet of the human condition, the Great One is there. He is not far from any one of us. But are we far from Him?...

I love you dearly, even if you're a fan of jello. Or eggs. Or the New York Yankees.

Your friend (walking as steadily as I can) on the pilgrim road,


P.S. Please keep praying for Judy W.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Update 3/23/10 Day 134

Well, hello there fellow travelers! This is Stephen tonight, filling in for Loriann because she has a splitting headache and I'm afraid the booming of the keys under her fingers would be too much for her. Instead she is lying down and watching (quietly) the wonderful 1938 film 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Haviland and Basil Rathbone. I remember when the children were small they would always call this "the real Robin Hood", so as not to confuse it with the animated Disney film, which was their first experience with the story. And a great story it is, too, of good triumphing over evil and love winning out in the end.
The pictures above are of our precious David John, who was working tonight at his school at their pasta dinner/fundraiser. He (and all the rest of the children there) worked hard and did a great job. Above you can see him working the drink counter, and then sitting down with his good buddy Josh when they had a chance to feed themselves in between the five o'clock and six o'clock seatings. He's the third and last of our children to work this fundraiser at Our Savior's Lutheran School, and it was a blessing to see. The food was terrific too - David especially loved the garlic bread that was served with the meal!

Today was my second day back at work in an office, and like yesterday it went well and there was plenty of work for me to do. Yesterday on the way home from work I realized that it was March 22nd - three months to the day that I came home from Sunnyview, just in time for Christmas. I thought of how I was feeling then - still in my wheelchair and thinking I was at least two months away from even starting to put weight on my right leg. Now, three months later, I was well enough to be walking around with a cane for my support and to begin working out of my new office at my new job. As I said on my Facebook page yesterday, "GOD IS GOOD!!!" And yes, those capital letters are appropriate and practically demanded!

Loriann had another productive day with me out of the house, but in a very different way from yesterday. Instead of being the white tornado cleaning the house she was busy in a different way, first going to the Bible Study with friends and loved ones at Delmar Full Gospel and then visiting a dear friend in the emergency room at the hospital. Loriann always had a tender heart for her friends, of course, but since November 8th I'm sure she knows even more the blessing that can be had in a visit to the emergency room from someone who loves you. Please keep our dear friend Judy W. in your prayers and ask God to give her a miracle!

Tomorrow I go back to therapy for the first time in a week and hopefully I'll learn if our appeal to have additional therapy sessions is moving forward yet. I know that our Father (or The Great One as my bride calls him) is in charge and will see to it that I can get more therapy if I need it. If not, He'll continue my healing in some other way.

That will be it for tonight, friends. Tomorrow Loriann should be back, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the entry more. Know this, though - I love you guys and gals as much as she does, and feel just as privileged to walk this pilgrim road with you!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Update 3/22/10 Day 133

Dear friends,

Well, the man went to work today, in an office, for the first time since early November. Doesn't he look dapper? Apparently he was very busy too, getting up to speed and setting up his office. He goes back tomorrow, but Wednesday is a therapy day. He'll be on 3 days a week for a while yet (probably another 3 weeks to a month or so). Dr. Samaio doesn't want him going too fast. There's still lots of healing going on, and that will continue.

The Dynasplint was taken off in the middle of the night last night. It was just too uncomfortable, and Smitty needed his shut eye before the first day at work. Between the mountain of additional pillows, the Dynasplint and the cat, there's not much room on the bed. It could be alot worse. I could be there all by myself. So I'll be thankful for the extras, while looking forward to the day they aren't needed anymore.

It was a bit strange, being alone in the house most of the day. I was the white tornado, though, in my kitchen. I'm still not done, but I sanitized that room with elbow grease and Clorox! Then I hit the bathroom. Then I put my feet up for a while and read a little more of my book about poison in the early 20th century. During Prohibition, the rate of alcoholism actually skyrocketed, as did alcohol deaths. People were drinking methyl alcohol and killing themselves at an alarming rate. Once cars became affordable, drunk driving was in full swing. People were killed like animals in the street by intoxicated drivers, many of whom died themselves in cars without any safety equipment at all. Things change, but how they stay the same...

So now it's time for me to get to work on my victim impact statement for the sentencing of Oscar Lewis toward the end of April. I actually have to get it written by mid April. I've been putting off the whole thing, partly out of laziness, and partly because I really don't look forward to thinking too much about the impact all of this has had on our lives. We really are moving ahead, thanks to the Great One, whose "mercies are new every morning". I know this is important, and I'll get it done, but I'll ask for your prayers as I work my way through the thing.

I read this passage by C.S. Lewis after reading all this stuff about alcoholism during Prohibition. It was enlightening:

"One great piece of mischief has been done by the modern restriction of the word Temperance to the question of drink. It helps people to forget that you can be just as intemperate about lots of other things. A man who makes golf or his motor bicycle the center of his life, or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to clothes, or bridge, or her dog, is being just as "intemperate" as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily; bridge mania or golf mania do not make you fall down in the middle of the road. But God is not deceived by externals."

Makes you think, doesn't it.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Update 3/21/10 18 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

18 weeks ago, normal came crashing down with the sounds of a medevac helicopter on the roof of Albany Med, and an army of loving people praying in the ER waiting room (and in places near and far) for the lives of my husband and daughter. It still seems like something I read in a book, and not something that actually happened. But my memory is filled with beautiful vignettes: police, emergency rescue folks, and medical personnel working feverishly to keep my family alive, person after person sitting with Hannah as she emerged from the early stages of brain injury, mountains of food brought to the Ronald McDonald room on the 7th floor of the E building at Albany Med, phone calls, emails, cards, money, errands, chores- every time I turned around someone was waiting to help. Those are memories I will forever cherish. It's hard to even put into words, actually, the feelings that arise within me when I recall the everlasting arms of God around me through the whole experience. And the compassionate working hands of incredibly kind people... Normal became different, and it's about to change again. It keeps doing that! And the Great One continues to show us how to make like a tree in the wind. And bend.

Tomorrow Smitty goes to work at his new office for the first time. As you know, he's been working for this new company from home since January. Now he goes in and meets lots of new people, sets up his office and dives in. Please pray for him! The new job thing is enough for anyone to manage, never mind with a recovery still ongoing. We are so very blessed by the new firm he is working for! They have been understanding of his limitations, and they are looking forward to working with him. I know they will love him. He's a hard working man, and his attitude is excellent. I'm so glad for this slice of normal for him. He'll only be working 3 days a week for now. And though I'm glad he's out and about, I will truly miss him. I'll adjust to my new normal (again!), and it will be alright. I'm a little worried about his endurance, and not being there in case he needs anything. But the Great One is with him. And we had to get our feet wet sooner or later. We'll bend.

I just read a school project Hannah completed called "Life's Little Instruction Book". She had to explain the meaning of many "sayings" from the book "To Kill a Mockingbird", but she also had to include family sayings. I cried reading the things she recalls and what they have meant to her. It was like a salve to my soul to read a couple of her comments. What a kid! I will love her through this whole thing, no matter how long it takes! I will always recall the promise of God to me:

"Do not be afraid, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land ,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like poplar trees by flowing streams.
One will say, "I belong to the Lord;
another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand "The Lord's",
and will take the name Israel.
Isaiah 44:2-5

All the changes in the world can't disturb the unchangeable word of the Living God. He remains rock solid while our boats are rocked. The name Israel means "struggled with God and man and prevailed". He's not shocked or shaken by our instability or uncertainty. He's always "steady on", holding out the life raft, calling us in to the place where no outward circumstance can shatter our faith. If there's anyone who needs His gracious anchoring, it's me. If there's anyone who's struggled with God and man, it's me. He's come to my rescue so many times, I've lost count. I'm more grateful than I can say. I've been blown by a mighty wind, but I didn't snap! The Great One held on tight and said, "just bend". Listen, there are folks who have been through far more trying times than we have, who have had to bend much deeper for much longer. Those are the ones who I stand and applaud. The Great One applauds too.

It's been a wild 18 weeks. Windy as all get out. How great to have friends like you in the storm! Thank you. Thank you.

When you feel the wind, grab His hand and bend!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Update 3/20/10 Day 131

Dear friends,

Stephen took 2 walks today, partly to enjoy the outstanding spring weather, and partly to "grease" that stiff right knee. I walked with him the second time, and we met up with many of our neighbors, some who we haven't seen since the fall. Lexi the dog even came out and I threw her a stick to fetch. I couldn't have been more content. I've been learning the thing the Great One really wants me to get: enjoy life today, while everything isn't fixed, because there will always be problems. Some days I get it and some days I forget it. Two steps forward, one step back. Such is life.

I spent lots of time in the car today. Joseph did some driving (he's doing a really good job!), and there were errands and the "teenage limo service" many parents find themselves running when their kids are in this time of life. I wouldn't trade a second of it. I loved when they were babies, and toddlers, and elementary school age and now. There were times when they were little that I wished it away - (when I was pulling 3 of them out of car seats in a two door car), but looking back I can also say there were many moments I savored. I can picture Joseph in his diaper and cowboy boots (he insisted on wearing them to bed), and Hannah with the pigtails sticking out and following her big brother everywhere, and David John sucking on those two fingers. Even then, God was reminding me to live in the moment. It takes a lot of living to learn what living is about. If there is anything good that came out of that terrible car accident, it's the ever present reminder of the fragile nature of life. How I want to get this! Every day.

Hannah Rejoice, Lauren and the beautiful Jessica did hair coloring today. My daughter is way more gutsy than I ever was as a teenager. The red streaks are wild! She's stepping out a little bit, and I'm saying to myself "why not?". I mean, it's only hair, right? With all she's been through, and continues to grow through (ouch), a little levity with hair seems appropriately frivolous. How I wish I could make everything in her life lovely and pain free! I know the impossibility of such a wish, and even the peril of a life without adversity. But it is unfair that she pays for someone else's sin. Still, the Great One has all that figured out too. And He never misses a beat. Hannah is in better hands than mine.

I'm reading a gripping non fiction book called "The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York". Man, this book reads like a novel. And the political corruption of New York City at the turn of the 20th Century rivals that of today. The theme of the book seems to be "be sure your sin will find you out..." Arsenic and Cyanide couldn't be detected at one point, but people with passion worked hard to find a way to catch the bad guys. And with persistence, and a stubborn unwillingness to give up despite daunting obstacles, these guys figured out the mysteries hidden in darkness. I believe the Great One takes delight when scientists finally uncover the enigmas of science and use their knowledge for good. Anyway, it's a great read!

So looking forward to assembling together tomorrow with some of the people of God, who are part of that great sea of lovers of the Great One all over this incredible planet. And He says to us "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love..." Let it be so. Now and forever.

Enjoy your day, enjoy your life, enjoy your world. I know everything is far from perfect. I'm not being Pollyanna, believe me. It takes effort. And you can still do it when you're sad, mad or confused. Maybe we can only practice joy for 5 minutes. But it's a beginning. I'm determined to learn.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Friday, March 19, 2010

3/19/10 Day 130

Dear friends,

Holy smoke, what a day! Warm, sunny, mild - and the crocuses are going mad in the front of my house. It was a day you wanted to get up in the morning. It almost made you forget there ever was a winter, (till you saw the old, filthy snowbanks still holding out in the Walmart parking lot). We attended a wonderful bonfire at the home of Jon Michael the Kind and Marcia the Tender Hearted. (By the way, a perfect quote from Brother Bob: "Everything burns"). And he means it... It was a day that was like a kiss from heaven, a reminder that nothing ever stays the same. The ice melts, the leaves grow back, the world recovers from it's annual near death experience. Praise God, who does all things well. Even when we don't understand it all.

So I'm thinking about that funny quote "Everything burns", and as usual I'm thinking it to death. But it is so true in so many ways. We're here on planet earth for our 5 minutes, and then we're gone. And all the "stuff" - it's all gonna burn. The bed you're sleeping on tonite will most likely be in the landfill in 50 years, and the tv you're watching will be obsolete, and your shoes will be out of style. And I pondered what it always comes back down to in the end: relationship. Relationship with God and man. The only thing that's going to last are the eternal things the Great One made to last. And that's you. And me. So let's not value what is worthless and devalue what is precious. Once again, it's me I'm talking to. You just hear me thinking out loud...

Smitty may need a trip to Dr. Bagchi's office next week if his knee doesn't improve. He says it feels like it's not in the joint properly. When he had the fixator removed, Dr. B. did try to readjust his joint, but said it wasn't in perfectly. The injuries to Steve's legs were really bad. They took a sound beating. And the perfection of joint design, though not easily upset, is definitely hammered by 6600 pounds of metal hurtling at you at 70 miles per hour. The fact that he can walk at all is miraculous. Let's just keep praying for those legs to be knit back together right. The healing process requires patience.

Kind of a short post today. I'm tired, and there's a chocolate chip muffin waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Tomorrow I'm hoping to do a little bit of yard work, and the beautiful Jessica is coming over to do some crazy thing with Miss Rejoice's hair. I've got a couple of extra kids overnight, and there's no doubt they will be awake long after I'm sleeping...

Enjoy the first day of spring, friends. Share it with a dear one. That will not burn. Those are the things that last...

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Update 3/18/10 Day 129

Dear friends,

I was sitting on my front stoop this morning, and it occurred to me that the car crash lives in my head every day, whether I like it or not. I guess it's one of those things that actually changes your paradigm permanently. Of course it is still so evident before me: Stephen's injuries, family relationship changes since November 8, paperwork, court dates, insurance notifications, etc., etc... But even if all of these things were invisible, I think somehow the thing would still reside in my psyche. I wonder if it will always be that way? I talked to the Great One alot today about the whole thing. And after a good cry in the car (ever had one of those?), I felt comforted, hopeful and reassured. The pilgrim road is indeed a rocky one. And steep at times. But it is never solitary. The One and Only is always on the spot. Always.

Smitty and I took a little break today (he's been working very hard on studying for his license exam, and he's actually taking the practice exams!), and we walked at the Corning Preserve. It was much different from the last time we walked down there, when we covered about 4 miles in 40 minutes. This time we covered about a half mile in the same amount of time. What can I say? We were happy to be there, glad for the sunshine, delighted that we have life and hope, and sad for what has been lost. Stephen is so convinced about miracles now, that he really believes God could grow his leg back to the original length. I admit I don't have faith for that right now, he does, but regardless we keep moving forward, one step at a time.

This drunk driving thing is really bothering me today. Our dear friend Terrific Tracy told us about a 26 year old man (her coworker's best friend), who died today at Albany Med, after being hit by an intoxicated driver. And it seems everyone I talk to knows someone who has been injured or killed by the tragic decision someone made to drink and drive. I'm frankly fed up with the whole thing. I'm not smart enough to figure out all the details of getting this thing under control, but I've got to believe that stiffening the penalties for DWI will help. Anyway, when we're in one piece over here I'm fixin' to knock on the lawmaker's doors and tell them what I think. Now you know when it comes to saying something, I can do it! I just need to learn a few things from my friends in the advocacy world before I go opening my mouth. But open it I will. Because enough is enough.

Miss Rejoice is learning a song, an old spiritual sung by slaves right here in America. (By the way, what a blot on the history of our country. Thank God for the brave men and women who fought the (often bloody) battle to end the blight of slavery here). The Columbia Chorus is singing "Shut the door, keep out the devil..." Don't you love it! She's been singing it around the house. I say a little AMEN under my breath every time I hear her. Sometimes that's what it takes. That enemy of our souls presents us with a lie, and we just gotta shut the door! Slam.

Gotta go help young master David with his science homework. We're working on the layers of the atmosphere. I love this stuff. The wonders of the natural world only fill me with greater awe for the One who brought the whole thing into being. I will never cease to be amazed.

You my bloggie friends, are tops with me. I'm praying you will "shut the door, keep out the devil." You pray that for me too, please? And for the family of a 26 year old young man who died needlessly. May they find the Great One, who is near to all who are broken hearted.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Update 3/17/10 Day 128

Dear friends,

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We wore the green today and got our 50 cent ice cream cones from Stewart's. And of course, every March 17 involves the viewing of John Ford's classic, "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

The story of the real St. Patrick is packed with more drama and pathos than any work of fiction. Turns out Patrick was actually a citizen of what was then Britain, was kidnapped by Irish raiders (at around 16 years old), sold into slavery in Ireland, escaped back to Britain, and later returned to the place of his captivity. There, with pity in his heart for the emptiness and superstition of a race oppressed and steeped in paganism, Patrick brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Irish people. This was good news, great news (despite man's tendency to corrupt the truth) for the people of Ireland. Light was proclaimed over the deep darkness. And the great Irish people have revered Patrick ever since. Of course there's more to the story, and some of the legends seem a little far fetched to me, but who knows? It was a long time ago, and none of us can really completely unravel the mystery of the past. One thing is for certain: the Great One always has, and always will love the Irish people. Like all the rest of the world, His big heart is for them to see Him as He truly is - the lover of their souls. St. Patrick was a messenger of that "life that is truly life." God bless him for his willingness to put the needs of others over his own! He was a missionary with vision and abiding love, even for those who had persecuted him.

Stephen had therapy today, and I went with him to get instructed on the care and feeding of the Dyna Splint (ha!) He will eventually wear the flextion brace for 8 straight hours, and the extension brace for 8 hours the next day. The hope is he can wear them while sleeping, but if not, he'll have to endure them during the day. Of course then it's more of a cumbersome thing because it gets in the way of daily function. We'll just have to see how it goes. In the meantime, he's doing well with his walking and strengthening. He's a wonder! I am being completely honest when I say he hasn't complained once during this whole process. Not once. (I'm talking about Steve, now, not me!) I simply love the man. And I am so very proud of him. Wow.

If you want a laugh, read the comments from yesterday's blog. A hoot! Also, thanks for the emails on your favorite Seuss books! I have a couple to locate now that I've never read. And no, I really don't eat eggs. I have never eaten chicken ovum, since I was a little girl. I am not at all a fussy eater. Eggs are the only food I will not consume. There. You know one of my oddball idiosyncrasies.

I've got to go and catch the rest of "The Quiet Man". Can't miss the extremely politically incorrect scene where John Wayne is dragging Maureen O'Hara through the field, and one of the bystanders says "Here's a fine stick to beat the lovely lady..."

We're still trekking friends. Somehow along the way here our spiritual muscles must be getting stronger. All of us. Even if we can't perceive it. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see..." The view at the top will be breathtaking. But precious to the Great One will be all we have gained along the way.

I love you dearly!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Update 3/16/10 Day 127

Dear friends,

The Dynasplint is in hand. This high tech elbow bender (and straightener) is the invention of someone who carted their extra brains around in a wheelbarrow and used them for some good. This thing is supposed to stretch the tendons and ligaments in Steve's elbow, much the same way a rubber band on your visor stretches if you leave it there all summer. It's an attempt to get the elbow stretched enough so it doesn't automatically "bounce back" to its resting position. The ideal: Wear it 8 hours while sleeping. The reality: Do the best you can. It's on the lowest setting right now, and as Smitty tolerates it with time, we'll crank it up a notch to extend the stretch. He's got it til May, so let's see how it goes.

Now you knew I was going to find some kind of allegory here, right? I'm thinking, I need a Dynasplint for my spiritual tendons! Gotta get the old, stiff, "religious" ways behind me, and stretch out to the pure freedom of an authentic relationship with my Great Father. To walk with Him every hour of every day. To see Him in every person, and to treat every person as I would Him. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to give us true power for living this life, and there's no one more vested in stretching us to our greatest measure of abundant life. Now. Not when everything is "ok". Not when we get the right job or our kids do this or that, or we get the new house, or we go on vacation. The abundant life is about today! It's an inside job. May the Great One help us to live it... I'm first on the needy list!

David had a rough go today. Rotten cold, loose brace, trip to the orthodontist. On the bright side, he really wanted me to read him a Dr. Seuss book. You know happiness when your 12 year old snuggles with you while you read really silly rhymes. My favorite Seuss is of course, Green Eggs and Ham. There are great intellectual debates that rage every day over which book is the pinnacle of Seussdom. What do you think? David's favorite: There's a Wocket in My Pocket". Smitty's favorite: Yertle the Turtle. My teenagers refused to take the survey. The Grinch rocks the funhouse for holiday reading, and I remember loving Fox in Socks when I was a kid. Ted Geisel (Dr. Suess) grew up where I did- Springfield, Massachusetts. Also home to the Basketball Hall of Fame, which I have never visited. Anyway, I like to pretend I was born in New York. I sure feel like I was. You'de need dynamite to blast me out of this state, despite it's many flaws.

Hercules has a cold too, his first since the accident. Thanks be to God, he didn't get sick all those months in the hospital, when Swine Flu was on the rampage. When you think of all the bullets we dodged, you've got to be humbled. The prayers were like suits of armor. We were protected a thousand times from infection, amputation, memory loss, death... Believe me, I am humbled. And I want to stay that way, for the rest of my life. Pride and arrogance are the enemies I fear more than any others. (Fear is right up there too). Thankfully, my daily bumblings keep me (I hope!) from those formidable foes.

By the way, "I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I am..."

Your friend on the egg-free pilgrim road,


Monday, March 15, 2010

Update 3/15/10 Day 126

Dear friends,

Smitty and I had a sweet, sad moment this morning. Sweet because we shared it, sad because it was the sharing of heartbreak. Every now and then the waves of the fallout from the crash coming rolling over us, especially in regards to our princess. As you know, there are some things I simply cannot bring out in this public forum because of the tenderness of the issues and the need to protect the privacy of those involved. But I can freely tell you about our coping, and the power of love through everything. The suddenness of the emotions came on both of us, and we leaned on each other. And we leaned hard on the Great One. There's a solid rock on which to place your staggering feet. "He heals the broken hearted, binding up their wounds..." It doesn't happen all at once. But what great comfort that it's real! It's been over 4 months since all this happened. But we are where we are. There are still sorrows and challenges to face. I wish we were through it. I knew a while ago that 6 months down the road we would still need the understanding of our friends and family for quite a while. And you've stuck it out with us. No one has said to me "get over it." Believe me, I would if I could. But I won't lie about it. It still hurts.

All is not gloom and doom, however! There have been countless miracles and multiple blessings to unpack. Who could have guessed that Hercules would be up on a cane at this point, driving, working part time, folding laundry (hurray!) and purchasing shoes. By the way, I don't know who put that money in Steve's hands to aquire new shoes on Sunday. But whoever you are, thank you. Yes, he does have to buy 2 pairs of shoes (different sizes). We did find one place that only charges half for the second shoe, after you pay full price for the first. But that place is more pricey, so it comes out about even. Anyway, how cool is it that someone actually thought about Stephen's feet? I remind you, that right foot really does look like Sasquatch's. And with the skin graft in plain sight, his whole lower half is a bit ghouly looking. Still, he's a handsome fella, don't you agree?

Another of the many provisions of the Great One is our next vehicle. Turns out the absolutely fabulous cousin Peggy Ann, (one of many fab cousins on Stephen's side; there's some equally fab ones on my side too, but I really digress), is getting ready to purchase her next car and is selling us her Honda Civic at a price you wouldn't believe. Not to mention she's getting her mechanic to gussy it up proper before we pick it up in Port Jervis at the end of March. Peggy Ann has kept in touch with us via email since day one, and has been a tremendous encouragement, not to mention a communicator extraordinaire. Her sense of humor rivals my husband's and that's saying alot. Must be those Baldwin genes...

I cleaned out the bathroom closet today. All the bandages, ace's and gauze's, all that cool xeroform (remember that stuff?), all the wound cleanser that was unopened was packed up to go to Jezreel International, a ministry that ships clothing, medicine, even stuff like bicycles all over the world to poor folks who need all those practical items. If you live around here, they're a great place to bring your gently worn clothing. They can always use a hand folding and sorting clothes too if you have a few hours.

I leave you with this insightful quote by Victor Hugo:

"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake".

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Update 3/14/10 17 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

I managed to yell at all three of my kids today, proving that despite all I've learned, I have miles to go. I'm not saying kids don't need to be corrected, but yelling is definitely not the productive way to go. So I handed out a few apologies, but I have another one to go. I struggle with feeling doubly guilty about how I handle problems with my kids, because I know it hasn't been an easy road for them either these past 17 weeks. All three have been affected by the trauma of November 8. No doubt about it, we've had incredible grace and support through it all. But kids feel things deeply, only they express their feelings differently than adults do. To be perfectly honest, I haven't sorted it out yet. I'm not sure I ever will. Add adolescence into the mix, and the brightest bulb in the club (of which I'm not a member) might find theirself baffled. So once again I pick myself up from the mess, ask forgiveness, and move on. Real life is messy business.

David's school had their learning fair today. Stephen and David built a catapult for the medieval time period the sixth grade is studying. (All the kids built them - they were all different- and fantastic!) Father and son competed for who could hit the ping pong ball closest to Albert Einstein's head. My baby boy won. Of course, Stephen did have a cane, so I'm sure it would have been a tie...

Our guest speaker at church this morning made the point that focus on what matters, matters. Just what I blogged about yesterday. Not getting sidetracked by the inconsequential details of this temporary life. I knew I liked the guy when he quoted C.S. Lewis: (I paraphrase) "Aim for heaven, and you get earth thrown in. Aim for earth, and you get neither." Think about William Wilberforce. For years in English parliament he fought for the abolition of slavery. He would not be distracted. He would not be deterred. Precisely because he understood the great truth that man is made for more than 70 years on this fallen rock spinning through time. The value of human beings goes beyond what the culture they happen to be born in says they are worth. People have eternal value. Otherwise as the Apostle Paul so eloquently explained "If Christ is not risen....then eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." But tomorrow we don't die. So let's attend to what it means to really live. Once again, I am convicted and by my own words. Sometimes it's best to throw a glass of cold water into your own face.

More therapy this week, more doctor appointments, and Stephen continues to work part time from home. I go back to work on March 28. It all seems so strange. We've been living this bizarre life for long enough now that it has become rather normal. As we get more normal it seems weird. Things change. And we change. But the Great One - how grateful I am that he never does. And when He corrects me, He never yells.

Dear friends, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And don't forget that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Update 3/13/10 Day 124

Dear friends,
I made a lasagna to beat the band tonite. No kidding, it was delicious. My lasagna is like my hair; you never know from one time to the next how it will come out. It was a good night for a home run too, since my nephews, my brothers and my sweet sister in law Kathy were all here for dinner. Sarge also stayed, after Joe worked for him this afternoon. Joe drove home in Sarge's car. Earlier today I took him on the highway for the first time. After all the hoopla of the past 4 months, I think I should have gotten a gold star for bravery! Sixteen years old, father and sister nearly died in a car wreck, and mom is the copilot for speeds of 65 mph. Good thing all my trust is in God! (He did a terrific job, by the way. I think the events of our recent past have permanently impacted him as a defensive driver. I hope so.)

The early morning was so wonderfully quiet today. Stephen went to a men's breakfast with the excellent fellows at DFG, and I was home, puttering around, drinking coffee, reading and enjoying the absolute peace of sleeping children and solitude. Solitude. It was something the people of our distant past came by much more easily. Don't get me wrong. I am not in the camp of those who want the Little House on the Prairie days. I like indoor plumbing, electric blankets and polio vaccines. But there was something about the intrusion of the industrial and technological world that made it harder to find the quiet place where the Great One is found. A million distractions, even in our own homes, can take us away from the peace of fellowship with our Creator, or even from the discomfort of self examination; both of which are necessary to what the true life is all about. So I was grateful for the hour of gentle silence that came as a gift I didn't anticipate. The real discipline is to enforce a space for that same solitude every day. To breathe the air of what's truly lasting instead of checking facebook, or watching the news, or forwarding a text. None of these things are wrong! But they can actually be the "little foxes" that wreck the garden. We've got to fight for what is eternal. All the fluff comes easy. Believe me, I'm not preaching to you, but to myself...
Quote by Hannah Rejoice to Mom: "I want to go shopping with someone who wants to go shopping. Which means I don't want to go shopping with you..."

Intelligent girl. Perceptive girl. Hit the nail on the head girl.

Losing an hour of sleep tonite. Positively unfair. But in a world of unfair, this one ranks about 5 million on the list. I'll be happy when the sun is shining at 6pm. Can't have everything.

No movies on tap tonite, but I've got about 20 screwball comedies from the 30's and 40's I'm about to que up on Netflix. Really enjoying that book I told you about. There are a number of Cary Grant pictures I haven't seen yet. I thought I'd seen them all, or just about. I'll be sad when the Netflix subscription runs out. See, this is how they rope you in. Get it as a gift, and then they've got ya. Well, I won't be pushed around. I won't be lured by advertising. I won't weaken... will I?

Have yourself some peace and quiet. The Great One loves your company.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Friday, March 12, 2010

Update 3/12/10 Day 123

Dear friends,

The gulf between who I am and who I wish I were is a wide one. I still find myself wasting mental energy on stupid, mundane and even ugly thoughts, when there is a world of healthy, positive and right things to think about. The worst is when I take myself too seriously. What a relief to laugh at ourselves! Fortunately for me, I am married to a man who has a basically sunny disposition, and is quick with a joke. If I've figured anything out over these past few months, it is that attitude is king. Look at the circumstances with the right point of view and the whole thing turns on its axis from dark to light. Or at least to OK. Even if the thing isn't at all OK, we can still be OK. Unfortunately my attitude hasn't always been good. That's why I'm so glad to have a Savior who does not "change like shifting shadows". He's some kind of dependable! Unlike His creation. Shakespeare put it this way "For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion..."

What an honor to meet Jim W. today, one of the firemen at the scene of the accident back, well you know when. We were at the transfer station (I was wearing my new high heels by the way), and the great Transfer Station Supervisor Joe started pulling our trash out of the back of the car. He and Smitty always chat away. Like I've said before, I love those guys down at the dump. They're the salt of the earth. Anyway, Jim ( not Joe) looked at Steve and asked if he remembered him. Steve said yes, thinking he had seen him there at the transfer station before. But I figured out what Jim was talking about! He helped get my darlings out of that car! He helped pull the thing apart to get the dashboard off of Stephen's lap. I gave him a big hug, and Hercules was able to shake the hand of a man who helped save his life. Jim was so happy, thrilled to see Smitty doing so well. Amazing, isn't it? There are heroes all around us. Ordinary people who simply are too stubborn to allow darkness to swallow up light. May the Great One repay them for their work. And like I said before, somewhere down this road is a party waiting for everyone who played a part in the Master's plan. You're some special dude, Jim!

Smitty got a call today about the Dyna Splint, that new apparatus that may help his elbow gain a bit more range of motion. Hip hip hooray, insurance will cover it! Actually he will need 2 of them: one for bending and one for straightening. So next week he and his Occupational Therapist and I will get instructed by the Dyna Splint people on how to work the thing. It stuns me that some smart person out there even thought of designing this devise. Lets ask the Great One for some real improvement with the use of this bendy tool. Even a few more centimeters of motion will make a difference.

It's Friday night, tacos have been consumed, and it's time for a movie. Tonite: "In a Lonely Place" with the inimitable Humphrey Bogart. Tomorrow both my brothers visit, and Joe works for our dear friend Sarge stacking wood. I almost wish I was stacking. There's nothing like physical work to set the mind free from self absorption. But I've got plenty I can do around here. Removing myself from the chair is the challenge. I've been a bit lazy lately...

Have a great weekend friends! Don't let your emotions run the show. They're good servants, lousy governors.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update 3/11/10 Day 122

Dear friends,

It's a bit late. Here's why:

The man won the tickets on the radio in June. They cancelled in July. He almost died in November. They rescheduled for December. (Stephen was a bit tied up in December). They cancelled in December. They rescheduled for March. So tonite, we went to the Elton John/Billy Joel concert and Smitty didn't need handicapped seating. As far as I'm concerned, all those people (and there were many), should have clapped for Steve! Even though he's not well known for his musical talents...

As for me, well, all I needed to hear was "New York State of Mind". ("Me, I'm takin' a Greyhound, on that Hudson River line...) But the real nostalgia was when Elton John played "Crocodile Rock". I was transported back to 8th grade, in my friend's room, listening to the 45! That was a very difficult time in my life, and it was then I really began to wonder about all the big questions. Why am I here? Will God help me? Will I survive in high school. It's sort of good to remember what that age felt like. I want to be an understanding mama, and not dismiss the undeveloped but powerful feelings of my teenagers. So the Great One even uses "Crocodile Rock" for my good. He's ever surprising me.

Here's some news to rock the funhouse: Northeast Health came today and took away the wheelchair. I get kind of misty thinking about it actually. I remember Stephen struggling just to get into the thing at Sunnyview, and the night we both were up at 2am, so thankful that it was only temporary for him. But I will not, can not, forget those who will continue to live in their chair. I will always look at them in an entirely new light, with respect in my heart and a prayer on my tongue. That is not the road Hercules has to walk down. He has his own limitations, but they pale in comparison. I am again humbled by the profound mercy.

We finished watching an old Jimmy Stewart picture, Destry Rides Again. How I rooted for young Tom Destry, struggling to bring justice to a corrupt wild west town! Marlene Dietrich is the tough saloon girl with a soft heart, who turns out to be quite a hero. And my favorite scene involves a bunch of women wreaking havoc on the bad guys. I give this one 2 thumbs up. Jimmy Stewart is pretty hard to beat any day of the week.

Also reading 2 books right now. One is by John Ortberg called "The Life You've Always Wanted". Sounds like a self help book, but it's not. The author looks at the ancient disciplines people of faith have always practiced, and how relevant they are for today. It's a book you chew on, piece by piece. The other book I'm in right now is "Screwball: Hollywood's Madcap Romantic Comedies" by Ed Sikov. I'm finding all sorts of movies to rent through Netflix. I feel like I'm back at NYU film school, sorting through the author's opinions about which movies fit the bill as a screwball comedy, and which don't. Kind of fun. Especially since I don't have to write a paper on it.

Tomorrow is Friday, so I know I will be called upon to make either pizza or tacos. We call it "Fun Food for Friday Fare". I'm so grateful to the One and Only that all five of us are here for these Fridays of our lives. I'd be happy eating mush and liver, just to be eating it with these incredible, dearest, treasured 4 people. Of course, they wouldn't touch mush, so tacos it is.

So hurray for New York, and Crocodile Rock, and wheelchair removal and screwball comedies. Hurray for tacos and Fridays. Big, giant hurray for my husband and children, who mean more to me than life itself. And an epic, cosmic hurray for the Great One, to whom I owe it all, and who took the fall for my deliverance. "His ways are beyond searching out..."

And a big hurray for you, my fabulous friends.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Update 3/10/10 Day 121

Dear friends,

This poem is dedicated to my friend, Alma D. She has been squeezed, and everyone else had gotten the wine. She has experienced the long winter of a difficult trial, but brings spring into every cold, lonely place. The Great One displays His splendor through her well lived life.

Hold on to the good, hold on stubbornly, by dear Bloggies. The One and Only specializes in thawing out the frozen heart and bringing life to your internal "tundra."

Restless Spring
Flocks of robins eat what's left of frozen berries.
Weathermen predict a wet and melting snow.
Trucks leave marks in mud where cold has lost the battle.
Winter blows its horn, with little time to go.
Gardeners read the catalogs with hopeful dreaming.
Dirty mudrooms irritate with worn out rugs.
Little boys dig out their nerf guns from the closet.
Shoppers pass the discount boots with careless shrugs.
The winter weary soul finds strength in small hopes,
And most of all his fellows make him stronger.
Winds may beat against his tired frame with vigor,
But winter of the spirit has dominion hardly longer.
Up from the frozen heart emerges a surprise!
Not strangled by what winter once entombed.
Restless hope makes way from places long thought dead.
Reckless joy, refusing to be doomed.
As on the earth, the sleeping mammal rises,
So leap up all living, growing things.
A resurrection speaks of color, wild gladness.
Darkness must declare defeat, Spring springs!
We continue to heal, we continue to climb our mountain, and darkness must declare defeat. The little green things poking out of the ground are the allegory. Because of our dear Jesus, LIFE has the final word.
It's true for me- and for all pilgrims who have longed for His appearing...
Your friend on the pilgrim road,
Sorry once again for the format problem. Seems it doesn't like centered verse either!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Update 3/9/10 Day 120

Dear friends,
Stephen can officially sit down low enough to take a bath! Here he is practicing in a Sunnyview tub. Above he's getting his knee cranked by Able Mary, and here he is riding the exercise bike in the Sunnyview gym. What a guy!
I was floored by the tremendous response to my "sensible shoes" post yesterday. I'm thinking there are some major opinions out there about shoes! You were all so encouraging, some recommending the "go for it" approach, some saying "give it a trial run", some saying "stick with those comfy old friends your hoofs have grown to love". I actually did purchase some black, heeled (not too high, not too skinny), buckled shoes and it was a gas to wear them! I will keep you all informed on the evolution of my life with shoes. What an absolute blast you are!
Went to bible study this morning with some of the
world's finest folks at DFG. I haven't been to a bible study in a dog's age. Beth Moore's message today was her usual first rate teaching, hitting on the subject of the true source of satisfaction. I love the company of people of faith! It's like brick and mortar to my own. I dare say no one can successfully navigate the pilgrim road without the strength and encouragement our fellow travellers provide. The Great One never made a single one of us to go it alone. And it wouldn't be any fun that way either!
I continue to find there is always something more the Great One wants me to understand. About His grace, about forgiveness, about some of my own wrong mindsets. He's always after something more for us. More freedom, more joy, more wisdom. The thing with God is, He never has a dark motive: "God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all..." So He can always be trusted to do the right thing in our lives. Even when it's painful. There's no way God purposed the agony of a horrible car wreck for my family. That's the difficult price of living in a fallen world where God must allow free will lest we all be puppets on some cosmic string. At the same time, He is sovereign. And He can take all the mishaps of a world upside down and determine to turn them right side up. He can choose to put up His hand and say "this far, and no farther", lest the dark side of man swallow up hope. Much smarter people than me have struggled with this problem of God's goodness in terrible circumstances. I don't know how it all plays out, but I can personally testify to the matchless mercy of One whose ways are beyond my understanding. And someday, it will be time to wrap up this place of sorrows and move on to "the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." Sweet hope!
A little tired tonite after a school meeting at Our Savior's. (I just adore those dear people!) Can I say one more time that I have gained so much from my relationship with you precious Bloggies over the cyber miles. I have spilled my guts, posted my foul ups and smiled via words from ear to ear, and you have been my friends through it all. Communication has been the therapy for my "bruises" from the unfoldings since November 8. And it's alot cheaper than a psychiatrist.
Sorry about the terrible formatting. I can never fix it when I include pictures.
Keep climbing. The city with foundations could be around the corner.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,
P.S. Happy birthday, Arleen the Effervescent, you darling girl!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Update 3/8/10 4 months since crash

Dear friends,

I am a woman who wears sensible shoes. Brown loafers, black loafers, sneakers for athletic activities, comfortable, ordinary sandals in the summer. My sensible black shoes finally wore out, and I find myself looking for another pair without much heart in the matter. You see, somehow, deep inside, I am rebelling against sensible shoes. And I don't know why. As I look at the nice, flat, plain kind of shoes I have always worn, I pause. I see in the corner of my eye a pair of high heeled, kind of pointy (I NEVER did pointy) shoes with no back and a buckle. I see red shoes, and shiny shoes, and strappy shoes. I have never looked at those kind of shoes before. Those are for the non-sensible shoe ladies. Those are for the ladies who wear big necklaces and carry teeny little pocketbooks. What is happening to me? Is it a mid life crisis, or a celebration of being alive? I mean, I'm not interested in buying a Corvette and driving to Santa Monica with my girlfriends. Perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. This is the first time in 4 months I have even thought about shoes. (The holes in the bottom of the black loafers got me on the subject). What do you think? Should I let this wild thing pass, or seize the day? My friend Joanne, the Queen of Knowing What Not to Wear, would tell me to get the pointy shoes. And a new pair of jeans while I'm at it. But, I gotta be me... I'm conflicted!

This morning the front yard was awash in turkeys. Boy turkeys fluffing out their feathers, girl turkeys playing hard to get, turkeys, turkeys everywhere. Of course when I opened the window to take their pictures they ran. I really wanted to show you, there had to be 25 birds out there. It's really getting to be spring! Everything is beginning to wake up. The One who keeps it all humming deserves a hand. I for one am happy to applaud.

Hannah is going to have to put up with discomfort and adjustments with her partial until she is 18. That's the age she can begin the implant process on her 4 front teeth. She went for a tune up today, which did help her some. I do get kind of sad and mad over this thing with her teeth. A 14 year old teenage girl shouldn't have to deal with this because of someone else's bad decision. But here it is. Some things we parents simply can't fix for our children. Only the Great One can help her manage this over the next 4 years, and in the midst of her trouble I pray God will give her more spiritual treasures than she could have ever imagined. I know He'll be right there with her in the places within her only He can reach. "He causes all things to work together for good for those that love Him..." Even sore gums, artificial teeth, and unjust suffering. All things.

You my favorite Bloggies are the best at boldly asking God for His grace in all things. Please pray for J.C., who is fighting for his life with an infection post brain surgery. We know first hand, don't we, that there is no darkness the Great One can't penetrate. This young man's sister reads this blog, and she is a beautiful and encouraging woman! We can encourage her as we knock on heaven's door on behalf of her brother. That's a knock that's always heard. Even when we don't understand the outcome.

Stephen walked on the treadmill today. Can you even believe that 4 months ago today he was intubated and losing blood at a record pace? That he's alive is enough of a miracle. That he's working out in the Sunnyview gym almost makes me need the smelling salts. Thank you Jesus! You do stand alone!

So do all of you, my dear friends. Some of you wear sensible shoes, some of you are out there on a limb, some of you would prefer no shoes at all. How wild is He, the One and Only, and the way he put people together? Whoever thinks God is boring hasn't opened up the package of life and savored the variety. No cookie cutters with Him. People alone are enough to make me stand in stunned silence at His wonders. Astonishing.

Keep walking the pilgrim road, whatever kind of shoes you wear. Thank you for walking with me.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Update 3/7/10 16 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

The pork chops were tough tonite, but the day was tender! And did you notice at 5:45 it was still light outside? Absolutely inspiring. Sixteen weeks ago it was dark at 5:17 pm when Steve and Hannah were in a catastrophic car wreck. At that time, the days were getting shorter. The darkness was closing in. Now the curtain is rising on the spring equinox, and the days are getting blessedly longer. It's all so allegorical for me. Darkness continues to turn to light, a few minutes at a time. We still have many miles to go in this recovery. But alot of ground has been covered. Hercules walked the neighborhood again today, chatting with our neighbors who are coming out of their winter hibernation just like we are. And Hannah Mary Rejoice went shopping for eye makeup to brighten her up for spring. Sixteen weeks ago her eye was being stitched and her orbital bone was broken. Praise the Great One for all His mighty works!

In church today we sang one of my favorite hymns, "Before the Throne of God Above". Look for it on YouTube if you've never heard it. (As an aside, our Youth Pastor and worship leader Greg Falco is not only an amazing human being, he is some kick-butt musician! That piano sounds like musical chocolate when he plays! ) Here's my favorite part:

"Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me,
To look on Him and pardon me."

The old hymns are packed with doctrine and stand as beautiful reminders of the great truths of the word of God. It's been said that during the dark ages the hymns held the church together. So many people were unable to read, and great superstition and error abounded. But the common folk would sing the hymns and be reminded of the reality of the gospel. God always finds a way, doesn't He? Nothing can stop him from reaching the human heart with the hope of forgiveness and pardon. Given my own track record, I am beyond grateful that "my sinful soul is counted free!" God is just and merciful at the same time. Too amazing. I hope you get a chance to hear this song as Easter approaches. It kind of sums up the great hope we have in Christ. I'll never, ever get tired of thinking about the riches to be found in the Man of Galilee.

Back to therapy tomorrow. So much of life is done in the routine of the everyday. My routines are much different than they were 16 weeks ago, but they are routines none the less. Hannah has yet another dentist appointment to deal with her partial, which continues to give her grief. Gentle Dr. Taranto told us from the beginning that she will need continual adjustments as she goes along. I wish she had her own teeth. I wish it with all my heart. But this is a trial she must endure, and she has done it graciously. I'd give her my teeth if I could. But they wouldn't fit anyway. Besides, mine are coffee stained and middle aged. She really wouldn't want them. I'm not sure I'll have my own bottom ones much longer either...

I love talking to my brother in law Richard, whose exclamations of "incredible" regarding Steve and Hannah's progress always encourage me. Richard, I miss you brother! If Smitty could make the 7 hour trip we'd come to our little guest room. And Melissa, you know I always write in your book. We love our Virginia Smith's, all of them!

Who knows what another 16 weeks will bring? By then, we'll be in the heart of summer. Instead of sitting under my electric blanket (which I will try to get Steve to leave on as long as possible), I'll be cranking the air conditioner. The mosquitoes will be attacking me, and leaving Stephen alone, as is their habit. And with the unlimited grace of a merciful God, Stephen will have greater strength and endurance. I will have gone parasailing, (or at least be booked to do so somewhere), and Barrie's tomatoes will be close to ready. (By the way Pastor Dave, tell Laurie I think the swamp buggie sounds like a great idea! You can see how desperate I am for some fun!)

My dear Bloggies (is that a word? If not, it should be...), I hope you know you are in my prayers. You make my day. I wish we could all go parasailing together, in some massive, tandem thingy where we all become one big human kite. Ok, so I'm off the rails a little. Well, it beats depression and self pity. Afford me my fantasy. In heaven it could really happen. And I bet there are no mosquitoes there either.

Remember the hymn. It's totally 100% true.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,