Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anna Jane Salamy 5/29/02-11/25/07

As I look back through pictures of Anna I am AMAZED by her smile.  One day I was reading her the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  When we finished, I asked her, "Have you ever had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?"  She thought for a minute and said, "No."  I said, "Really? You can't think of one?"
This child had two liver transplants, multiple surgeries, and more chemo than I can count.  She spent months at a time in the hospital.  She was sick for half of her young life and she couldn't remember a bad day.
She continues to amaze me.
I think it's a terrible day when I have cramps.  I think it's horrible if I have to wait in line too long.  I think it's a no good day when someone doesn't return my phone call.  I think it's a very bad day if the air conditioner breaks down.
I think my daughter was a better person than me.
I know I am a better person because of her.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lost and found

Will was sick on Monday and Tuesday last week.  On Wednesday he and his friend wanted to play with their ipods, but Will couldn't find his.  I wasn't too worried.  I thought it would turn up, but it didn't.  Not on Wednesday, not on Thursday, not on Friday.  Will was upset.  He had bought the ipod with his own money.  I didn't know where else to look and I didn't want to buy a new one.    On Saturday I wrote in my journal, Lord, please help me find Will's ipod.  You know where it is.  Show me.  Saturday night I woke up in the middle of the night and prayed again, Lord please help me find that ipod.  Show me where it is.  Then the thought came to me,  I should look in my purse.  So what did I do with this divine revelation?   I rolled over and went back to sleep.
The next morning my daily reading "happened" to be the 15th chapter of Luke which "happens" to contain three parables about finding what is lost.  The first parable was about the shepherd who had 99 sheep and went looking for the one that was lost.  He was so happy when he finally found it.
There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!  (Luke15:7)
Those words always bothered me.  I thought they were kind of harsh if you are one of the 99 who weren't foolish enough to wander off.
The second parable was about a woman who lost one of her 10 coins and searched the whole house until she found it.  She was so happy that she called her neighbors in to rejoice with her.  (A rather strange reason to have a party.)  When I looked at that parable, I was able to understand that the coin that was lost didn't mean any more to her than the other coins.   They were probably identical.  What set that coin apart and the reason she cared so much, was its lostness.  It's the same with the sheep.  I'm sure those 100 sheep were practically identical.  It didn't matter which one was lost.  The shepherd would have gone after any one of them. There would have been equal rejoicing no matter which sheep or which coin had been lost.
I wrote in my journal,  The rejoicing is great whenever any lost are found.  then I added, (ie. the ipod touch)
Now I know that Jesus did not mean for those parables to apply to lost ipod touches.  I know he was talking about lost people.  But as I prayed again, Help me find that ipod.  Show me where to look,  I was prompted, Get up right now and go look in your purse.  So I got up, went downstairs and looked in my messy purse that I had been carrying around all week and there it was!
After I showed Richard that what was lost was found (Will was still asleep) I wrote in my journal, Thank you Lord for telling me where the ipod was!!! You are the God who sees! (Which is also what Hagar called God in Genesis 16:13).
When Will woke up I was able to show him how God had answered our prayer and we rejoiced together that what was lost was found!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bittersweet day

Bittersweet: (def.) both pleasant and painful

Yesterday was Mothers Day and I had five reasons to celebrate-- both my mother and Richard's mother are alive and well and I have three healthy children.  I rejoice in my blessings!  I am very thankful for what I have, but something else I have is an empty chair.  It sits right next to mine at our table.   I suppose I could get rid of it, but I like to fill it with guests whenever possible so I leave it there.  Most days that chair does not bother me.  Most days I don't give it a second thought.  But on Mothers Day I see the empty chair and it makes me sad.  My sadness doesn't keep me from being happy for the chairs that are full.  I know that those too will be empty someday as my children grow up.
So on Mothers Day as I reflect on what was, what is, and what will be, I experience both pleasure and pain.
It's bittersweet.
It's life.

Will and Richard made strawberry french toast for breakfast

After church we had a picnic in the park...

and then headed over to the stadium to watch the Flying Squirrels play baseball.  
(Yes, this was MY idea.)

 After a token Sunday nap, we grilled steaks outside...

 and the best part was that I got to stay outside while everyone else did the dishes
(see Will in the window)

Those who still had room enjoyed ice-cream by the chiminea.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Joy ahead

Yesterday someone asked me to talk to a friend whose daughter is dying.  This person told me that her friend didn't have anyone to talk to.  It reminded me of a night five years ago this month (seems like yesterday) when I didn't have anyone to talk to either.  We had just had the "There's nothing more we can do" talk with Anna's surgeon.  (Trust me, that is a conversation you never want to have with a doctor.)  Richard and I were still reeling from the news and were unable to help each other.  In my desperation, I reached out and called four different people in Oklahoma (we were in Delaware) and no one answered the phone.  I believe it was God's way of saying "Run to me and no one else.  I will comfort you."
But that dark night I couldn't even talk to God.  Earlier in the day I had confidently quoted Job and said, "Tho he slay me, yet will I trust him," but the truth is, I NEVER thought God would slay me.  I never thought my daughter would die.
Later I remembered a verse I wrote in my journal before she was born, when the doctor told us that the baby I was carrying might have Downs Syndrome.
'Why are you so angry?' The Lord asked...'Why do you look so dejected?  You will be accepted if you respond in the right way.  But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out!  Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.' (Genesis 3:6-7)
5 1/2 years later I had to choose again to respond in the right way or I would be destroyed by my own grief.
I chose to trust that God was in control of the situation.
I chose to trust that he would fulfill his purpose for Anna--and for me.
I chose to trust that what I could see was temporary and what I could not see was eternal.
I have that same choice  today when I am faced with something that doesn't go my way.  Will I respond correctly or will I be destroyed by my sin?
When I talk so someone whose child has recently been diagnosed with cancer, one of the things I tell them is, "It's not all bad.  There is good.  Look for it."  When something tragic happens, you think that you will never be happy again.  It's not true.  We had some dark and painful times, but we also had some wonderful, blessed, never-trade-them-for-anything moments.
When someone dies, you feel certain you will never be happy again.  But that's not true either.
Because of the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  Because of the joy set before me, I too can endure the sufferings of this life--including my child's death.
But, Jesus didn't just come to give us eternal life someday.  He came so that we might have abundant life today.  For a long time after Anna died, the only thing I looked forward to was my own death.   Now I am looking forward to company coming this weekend, a date with my husband, a shopping trip with Audra, a family vacation, a nephew's wedding, and so much more.  It's not the life I planned, but it's a good life with good things.
If you are suffering, remember that there is joy ahead--in this life and in the one to come.