A Crazy Little Thing Called CPE…

“Only Christ could have brought us all together, in this place, doing such absurd but necessary things.”–Kathleen Norris

If one were to write an essay about what one did over their summer vacation, anyone who read mine would ask for a do-over.  For eleven weeks I wondered semi-purposefully around St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, as a Chaplain Intern.  This was the last requirement for my master’s degree.  That’s right, me, a master’s degree.  The term “Intern” is used to mean unpaid, as well as clueless.  So six strangers set out on an adventure to discover who we really are, who God wants us to be, and how we respond to tragedy and help others deal with it.

 CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education, might be genius, but if you tell my supervisor, Sister Barbara, I said that I will deny, deny, deny.  First of all, Chaplains don’t go around trying to save people’s souls or waving Bibles at people.  I saw Bibles in the hospital while I was there, but they were not carried by Chaplains.  Chaplains have very difficult jobs, and are some of the strongest people I have ever met in my life.  Consider that they are meeting people at some of the most difficult moments of their lives.  We (they) are not there to take the place of your pastor or shove Jesus down your throat.  We are there to meet you where you are, not to judge.  I found that to be the most beneficial thing I could ever do.  Somewhere during the process of 400 hours in the hospital, you find yourself changing.  I had stood at the side of the bed with enough people as they had taken their last breath, watched family members agonize over what course of treatment to take with their loved one, that I figured out what was important.  For me; 

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind

2. Live until you die

Indeed, it is absurd that one should ever hear the following statement from a child, “I don’t want to die.”  What is more absurd, is that the statement requires a response, not because it is a fear, but because it is reality.  It is absurd that parents should have to bury their children, because that is not the natural order of life, now is it?  So often I heard “It just happened so fast.” or “If we just would have had more time.”  No one ever say, they should have worked more hours at the office.  I heard their regrets.

Do you have regrets?  Well, you aren’t dead yet; so, live.  Live until you die.  Come together with fantastic people like I did and do absurd things.  Grow.  Learn.  Challenge yourself.  Do those things that are hard, and sometimes hurt like hell.   Live until you die and hopefully you won’t be disappointed at the end, I know I won’t be. 

People Change

Sunrise At Galilee

People do change; not very frequently, but every now and again something so profound touches a person’s life that they can no longer remain who they were. I am one of those people. The person who I previously thought that I was, no longer applies. On December 28, 2012 she boarded a plane for Israel, and she allowed herself to be immersed in a country. She forgot to be afraid of everything, and so she hiked the Wadis and the Tels, swam in the Dead Sea, and went exploring in the torrential rain. She made new friends. She let someone in her life; when he asked her what was wrong and actually wanted an answer, she gave him one.

What comes next? I haven’t a clue. I keep moving forward, but I am forever unpacking my journey to the Land we call “Holy.”

Me and Mellencamp

Well I was born in a small town………not by choice
And I live in a small town……and I am ready to leave
Prob’ly die in a small town…..not if I can help it
Oh, those small – communities……are killing me!!!!

All my friends are so small town……no offense to you if you love living in small town USA
My parents live in a same small town……Rugby makes them happy, and that is fine, for them.
My job is so small town……well, it’s Indianapolis but you get the point!
Provides little opportunity, hey!……Mellencamp left and now he’s dating Meg Ryan! Can’t I go too?

Educated in a small town…..Thank you Hauser High School.
Taught to fear Jesus in a small town…..Not a bad thing at all!
Used to daydream in that small town….I used to dream about leaving!
Another born romantic that’s me…oh, aren’t we all?

This is where Johnny and I differ….
I know where I come from, and I love where I came from and the people that made me who I am today, but I never felt like I fit in when I was here. To be quite honest, I think that is my problem. I have been looking for a place all my life that felt like home, and for me, there isn’t one.

The thing is, I want something different for my kids. I want them to feel connected. I want to feel like they belong somewhere. So, I may just have to suck it up and live the small town, fish bowl life style for them.

Everyone has a story

I went to pay for my daughter’s violin today. No big deal, like every month, I walk in to see Mr. Pickett. He doesn’t call you if you are a few days late, because he is far too busy to do that. No, he counts on you to be a responsible person. I was the only one in the music store today, and he and I were chatting and he was telling me about a mission trip this man went on.

It seems he had met a gentleman who was going on a mission trip several years ago when he came into the store to buy a trumpet. The man knew nothing about trumpets. He didn’t play the trumpet, nor did he know anyone who did, but when he was packing for this mission trip he couldn’t shake the need to he had to purchase one. So he did. The man went off on his trip and went to several churches in South America taking the trumpet with him. No one in any of the churches had any need for a trumpet until the final church he visited on his final night there. After the service, the man noticed a boy speaking to one of the interpreters and the man walked over to the interpreter and asked him what he was saying. The interpreter told the man who the young boy seemed to think the man had something for him. The man walked back to where is guitar case was sitting and picked up the trumpet case sitting next to it. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he handed the trumpet to the boy who was also sobbing. He said through the interpreter, “I’ve been waiting. God told me you were coming.”

See, everyone has a story!

More than a handshake

A handshake may seem simple to you, but for a mom of a child with Autism it is huge. We were leaving church today, and I was in line to shake our pastor’s hand. Jacob doesn’t stand in line, because lines bother him. He always slides out the side door. Today, Pastor Dave called, “Hello, Jacob.” Jacob turned around and said, “Hi!” What he did next, nearly knocked me off my broken foot! Jacob walked over to Dave, and shook his hand.

I am sure there are people who are asking why it is such a big deal that my kid shook someone’s hand? The reason is, my son is Autistic. He doesn’t do things like that. I am a proud momma! I made sure I told him how proud I am of him too. I don’t take moments like that for granted. He is doing so well. We have found a church that loves him for who he is. For the first time in his life, he is participating in Sunday School and Youth Group. I am just so thankful.

We went to see an Endocrinologist this week about his pituitary issue. He has was is called Partial Sella Syndrome. We are waiting on lab results. What happened at the appointment was amazing. Dr. Sanchez looked at Jacob and told him that he could be anything he wanted to be. He could be a doctor or a scientist, and his Autism is not an excuse. He told him to help his mother and treat his sisters politely. In his old age he will need them. They will be the ones who always remember his birthday, and who are always there when he needs them. How I wish I could keep Dr. Sanchez forever!

Hitting the Wall

Most days I am asked how I manage to do all the things I do.  Usually my answer is something along the lines of, “It is what it is.”  You may quote me on that.  Everything that I have in life is mine to deal with, and there is fat lot I can do about it.  I can ignore it, but it isn’t going to go away.  So how do I deal with life as I know it?  One step at a time.  One moment at a time.  One breath at a time.  Some days, I roll over and put one foot on the floor at a time, and the only thing I can find to be thankful for, is another day vertical.  For me, that is enough.   It is okay.  I don’t want everyone to feel sorry for me.  I can do this.  I have been doing this for a long time now.  I like to stay busy, over-thinkers need to stay busy.  Otherwise, they end to find themselves thinking too much, which leads to trouble (not that I would know).

 The truth is that I go and go until I hit the wall, and then I stop. Then I rest, but that is because I am forced to do so. Sometimes friends invite me out to have fun, and when they do, I go.  I know it is good to have time away, so I do.  That is why I have been exercising so much in the last three months; it serves as a good stress reliever.  That, and I insist it is time to lose some weight for good (down 29 pounds).

Here is the thing.  I can be angry about things and situations when I need to be, because I know that with everything that happens, God is in control.  I can yell at God. God can take it; really big shoulders you know.  When things don’t make sense, it is really okay.  There isn’t anything I can do about it, except let it go.  Let God make sense out of the nonsense, and when I hit the wall, stop, pick myself up, and go again until the next time, knowing that there will always be another wall around somewhere.

Seriously, another phone call!

I got a phone call yesterday from Jacob’s neurologist. Seriously, another phone call! When I say it is the doctor calling, it is the doctor. Not her nurse, she herself. This time it was about Jacob’s labs that they had previously declared “normal.” Apparently, just kidding folks, not so much. What neurology sees as normal, the endo sees as “slightly abnormal” and worth investigation. Now we are off to yet another specialist next month to see if they feel his thyroid is malfunctioning enough due to the flat pituitary glad to treat him with medication. Did you follow that? Are you as exhausted by this whole thing, because I am. Quite honestly, I have not even told Jacob yet. He is 13, and going through that angry boy stage and I am just not going to go there right now. I would appreciate your continued prayer for my sanity. Again, I thank you who read my blog and love us. It means more to me than words could ever express!

Nothing short of thankful

The past several months have been rough, and it occurred to me that I never said thank you to the people who mean the most to me, my friends. In my life, my friends are my family. I will be the first to admit I have been on an emotional roller coaster and taken you all with me, and I appreciate your willingness to travel the distance. The truth is, we are our own worst enemy, and I am honestly my own. For those of you who got text messages from my kids or tagged in pictures, sorry about that. Mommy finally learned how to lock her phone! I will continue to apologize to those friends that I drove absolutely insane, who are no longer speaking to me. I miss you, and I ask you to consider forgiving me. Truth be told, I am a different me than I used to be, and I miss me too.

The diagnosis is a flat pituitary gland. That is not the cause of Jacob’s seizures. We don’t have a cause for the seizures, but he has been worked up to the full dose, and no seizures since July. Jacob has been through so much this summer, but has held up so well. He really has been a trooper. With the exception of his pituitary gland, as of right now the rest of his systems seem to be working. They seem to be compensating for his pituitary, at least at this point. So, for now we don’t do anything but watch.

I am so thankful for all you who prayed for us, sent texts, facebook messages, and called to check on us (and my level of sanity). I wish there was a way to explain the importance of having support when you have a child with special needs. If you know someone who does, call them, send them a card, a text message, an e-mail. You don’t have to offer or promise us anything. Often what we need more than anything is just that human connection. Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a child with special needs is exhausting. I was in a meeting this weekend about special needs ministry, and to hear the words “80% of marriages fail when there is a child with special needs” and to find yourself shaking your head in agreement, well, I guess you are a different person than you once were.

Today I am stronger. Today I am brave. Today, despite everything, I know it is all going to be okay. I thank you all for your love, encouragement, and support!

Not like the movies

You know those families in the movies, where the women all meet at the cemetery together, and hold hands and walk out to the grave together, showing their love and support for each other? I don’t have one of those kind of families. But I am assuming you don’t either. I am just going to assume that those types of families only exist in movies. If you are one of the fortunate few to have a family like this, be thankful

It’s been four years today since my Papaw entered into eternity. I still miss him. Sure, none of us would want him to be here and miserable with Parkinson’s disease, but I still miss his smile, his tooth-less grin. My 2 year old identifies him in pictures. “Momma’s Pa, Momma’s Pa.” What is the most difficult thing about death, is not the one who is gone, but those who are left behind. Funerals are not for the dead; they are to comfort the living. My concern is for those who refuse to live after someone has died. I understand for people who have been in your live essentially forever, and then they are gone, there is a void in your life. I get it. But, all your grief, your sorrow, your pain, is not going to bring you any sense of comfort. It may only add more of the same.

Since once they we are gone, we can’t go back and fix things, or spend more time with someone, shouldn’t we do that now? Shouldn’t we live every day like we are dying? Jump out of perfectly good planes. Travel the world if you possibly can. Do things that scare the crap out of you, and I am pretty sure, that you will thank me once you have. Sure, you may never want to jump out of another plane, but what about that bucket list you wanted to get through? No one is going to do it for you, and really what is the point of dying with regrets?

Why should you care

Why should you care? I will tell you why! Because, I said so. How grown up is that? No, I am not your mother, but the issue is that there are more lives at stake here than your own. That is why you should care. You should care because I took a moment to stop and talk to you about it, and that should make you think that maybe, just maybe this is important to me. Perhaps that is a reason why you should care.

Life is about choices, and not always are they easy ones to make. Sure, you can choose your friends. You can choose your mate. But what about the difficult choices? What about deciding when it is time to move on with your life. When you can no longer follow the path you are on, and you find yourself headed in a completely different direction. What if that direction looks really scary, and the way to get there is quite complicated? Then what do you do? Do you give up? Do you let a dream die, just because it looks far too difficult to accomplish? If we all did that, we would never accomplish anything. We all know the stories of the great failures in life who became successful; Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Pauly Shore (just throwin’ it out there, you know it was funny).

What about you though? What are you going to contribute? Me? I am going to be the best parent that I can be. When you speak, I will listen. When you need me, I will be there. That is what I can promise you. But what about me? What happens if I fall? Will you help me up? What happens if I jump? Will you catch me?