Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When Time Feels Like It Has Stopped: A Medical Emergency!

One week ago today had  seemed like an ordinary day until right around 4 pm.  I had arrived, with my two teenage sons, at the inner city house where we are in our fourth year of volunteer work.    This ministry serves families of the neighborhood surrounding the little blue house.  

Shortly after arriving, I received a text from the founder of the ministry that a horrible crash involving two school buses had occurred and one of "our kids," Mr. J, age 7 was on one of those buses.  His mom was on her way to the trauma center to see if he was there.  Other than that, it was only the local news media which provided information.  We had a few college students working and some high school kids hanging out waiting for their time at the house later in the evening.  They were all using available phones and computers to follow the news and fill us in as the reports were updated.

Someone said that Mr. J had been ejected from the bus when it crashed!  What?   How can that be?   That beautiful little boy with his bright, shining eyes?  Why it was just the day before that I shared a few minutes with him on the front porch.   He was telling me about the events of his weekend; some family upheaval had occurred and he was talking with me about it.  He had been sitting on the porch railing and I stood beside him and listened.  He was tying his shoes and showing me that they were cleats and wondering if they might be too slick to play on the asphalt in the parking lot with the other kids.   We spoke for maybe five minutes and then he jumped down from the rail and went to find out if those cleats were indeed too slick for that parking lot.  

And now I hear he was thrown from a moving school bus?   We hear that there is one fatality, then shortly after, another fatality is reported.  It's important to report that a half dozen or so adults and as many teens were carrying on as usual; we were serving food, correcting inappropriate behavior, sharing hugs, singing Christmas carols, assisting children in making an ornament for the tree, talking, listening, sharing more hugs, praying.  We always pray with the children a time or two throughout our time with them.  This day was different.  We didn't want the children to hear the news from us though it was shared that there had been a wreck and the children who uttered prayers to our Father had the option of praying for the hurt ones.  

But our group, no doubt, uttered many prayers throughout that time.  There was also our extended family of volunteers, in the text loop, who were praying along with us.  Those of us working as usual prayed silently, secretly, with eyes wide open while serving those precious souls entrusted to us.  

By the end of our volunteer time, we were saddened to hear there were three dead at the scene.  We heard stories of very young school children who were victims and witnesses of all the chaos at the scene.  We heard about parents who were frightened witless trying to run to the scene to find their child(ren.)   We heard and saw the rescue helicopter fly over the little blue house; we wondered if our precious boy was on that flight.  

About the time the children are leaving our care, we hear that Mr. J is doing well.  He had a head injury which bled profusely and required five staples and one broken bone, his clavicle.   Oh Father thank you!  Later, we learn that he had not been ejected from the bus.   Thank you Father!

Before we leave the little blue house, we circle in prayer and offer our gratitude to our Father for his mercy and protection over our boy; we offer prayers, petitions for comfort to the families of those who went Home with Jesus.  We offer requests for healing, physically and emotionally, for all those in the wreck, at the scene, in the schools.  

Two days later, Mr J walks across that parking lot with his brothers and is back with us.  His eyes aren't shining as brightly; he says he is in pain; he still allows me a one-sided hug (avoiding the broken side) and a kiss to his wonderful stapled head!   Thank you Father-God! 

Six days later, Mr J's eyes are once again shining, almost mischievous, when he reports he is feeling much better.   God is so good!

Monday, December 1, 2014

When Time Is Short, First Things First

A few weeks ago, the heavens opened and the stars aligned and suddenly, I was booking a flight to Las Vegas and then a car to finish my journey to the California desert.  Why?

Thirty years ago last month, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen.  I had secretly longed to spend her birthday with her and her family for several months.   It had seemed impossible when the idea first formed in my mind.   But suddenly, all the doors opened and I was free to plan my journey.  

It had been a year and five months since I had seen my daughter, son-in-law, and their three children-- my grandest kids.  A lot had happened in our lives since their trip home to Tennessee.  

I had checked a book out of the library a few weeks before my trip about managing our day to day commitments.  One of the primary messages of the book was about the amount of time our gadgets- computers, readers, TVs- steal from our daily lives.  Our time with email and social media result in less time for other pursuits and for those sharing our lives.  Even though I had read very little of the book before leaving town, it spoke volumes to the choices I make daily about the use of my time.   I made a decision.

My grandchildren are seven, six, and three.  I knew that nap time was mostly a thing of the past.  The two older children had just two days of school during my visit and the three year old would be home full time.  I decided that I would forsake my email completely while visiting these precious souls (gasp!); I did briefly check into facebook most days to answer private messages.

I am so pleased that I made the choices I made!   I spent priceless cuddle time, game time, play time, reading time with the grandest children I know.  We colored, glued, pretended, played games, read books, sung songs, and talked.  We also watched a few of their favorite movies and I got to share a few of their family traditions as they prepared for Thanksgiving  just before I left to come home.  My only phone calls were with their grandfather, my husband, usually daily. 

Because of their age, I always worry that I will have to start "from scratch" again with our relationships, as we don't often speak on the phone, nor do we use face time.  With the littlest one, there was a bit of  warming up time, but once we were through that, all was fine.  The older two grands and I picked up right where we left off.  Grandmama learned that a heart connection does not fade away.  It survives through the absences and is nourished and thrives during time spent together. 

My California experiment was such a success, I decided to try it again during my husband's extended family Thanksgiving celebration at his sister's Kentucky home.  Again, the results were fabulous.  I was fully present with my sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephew, mother-in-law, my own children and my husband.  It was a wonderful few days of food, games, talking and sharing.  

I love the availability of contact with friends and family from other parts of the country through email and social media; but I plan to continue this pattern of less screen time and more time being present with the ones in whose presence I find myself.  The gifts received through being fully present during face to face interaction are priceless!