Monday, March 26, 2012

10 out of 10 should receive a phone call late afternoon or early evening on 3/29 ...

(an excerpt from a message sent to my father from Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA detailing instructions for his next hospital admission)

Just four short months ago on November 29, I got a life changing phone call.  We'd all known for awhile that something just wasn't right, but I don't think any of us expected the diagnosis.  Acute Myeloid Leukemia - AML for short.  My sister called to share the details, and although we all carried on through the multilevel clinical implications, it was a stunning sound track that played over and over again until the familiarity of the words settled in.

He didn't breathe fresh air for six weeks four days.  And, although chemo knocked back the cancer cells and transfusions brought new life to his bones, he still needed to undergo a further round, a 24/7 infusion of toxic chemicals, praying that setting fire to Rome would save Rome.

By the end of the third round, Praise God, a stem cell donor had been located.  A global search yielded the right match, and the end of February left us making plans, (well, let's face it, I have very few plans to make since I'm so far away...), but our family began to anticipate the series of phone calls that would set the wheels in motion for a stem cell transplant.

I know I'm not the only one who notices when dates seem to take on a symbolic nature.  May 11th was just a day until I gripped the edge of the hospital bed, took one more deep breath, and bore my firstborn son into the world.  Now, it's his birthday and forever set apart.  July 22 is the day I held my firstborn daughter for the first, last, and only time and although by grace and Holy Spirit care live with a contented heart and a grateful spirit, that day will always be sad.  December 28 I became Weekend Farmer Husband's wife and on May 14 we left the city behind and began our country living farm redeeming journey.

So, March 29 is just a day - except for our family it's a day when we anticipate yet another call with what we pray is life saving information - as opposed to November 29 when we received life threatening information.

Will you join me in ongoing prayer that my father will "sail through" his transplant.  It's a risky business and the list of potential complications is vast.  My parents and their local caretakers have much to face in the next several months.

Will you pray for my mother who is tested on so many levels in times of extreme need?

Will you pray for my sister and her family as they've provided ongoing care in every conceivable way since this all broke? And, for my brothers, sister, and myself  - far away and not capable of in the trenches service - that we would be supportive, understanding, and available as needed.

Will you pray for my son who is living with his grandparents while he interns with my dad to determine if grandpa's career is the one for him as well?  Pray that he will see opportunities to serve and to maintain a cheerful attitude about the differences produced by a 50 year age gap and extreme illness.

And, will you join me in giving thanks that of the 10 blood proteins that are matched for a stem cell transplant from donor to host the match is a "perfect 10"?  We've come to understand that this is not necessarily a typical scenario and we're overwhelmed with this good gift from our Great God who delights in giving good things to His children.

In case... any of you who join with me and one another in this glory dance of capturing, counting, and chronicling gifts want to encourage, uplift, check on, learn from, pray with, and get to know my dad his CaringBridge site is: 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gifts of Spring



Peeling back layer after layer of damage, disrepair, and concern from the foundation of our barn seems to consume almost every extra resource we have.  Progress continues, safety has been preserved, and our spirits are not dampened.

Every day in this unseasonably early spring I "hear" strains of songs - mostly worship songs - playing in my subconscious.  The glory of this weather pattern and the earth waking is a breathtaking joy and the simplest things draw my attention to God, the master designer and creator of this world.

Waking to fresh air and golden sunshine - windows wide open to the day - bright eyed children light down the stairs full of eagerness.  Breakfast is eaten with relish and we dive into school and chores so that we can have the afternoon free.

We're spring cleaning with fervor and the purging is making room for physical things, and the shuffling of those things clearly demonstrates what abundance we've been given.

Some of our "best friends" spent a quiet winter in one of the barns.  This momma was so blessed that the reunion was sweet - even for the 11 year old boy!

Summer March! Breathless with gratitude for sun streaked sky, fiery expanse, shimmering shadow, and verdant earth wakening.

If you've visited here before you may know that I join a community of gift chroniclers, beauty seekers, grace hungry Christ followers on Mondays where we link up blog posts and speak out thanks.  Today is no different.  But, while I click and link and read, this is what's "playing in my head".

Blessings friend -

Pardon please?  Always trying to improve, learn, and develop...not always capable in the technical realm.  Sorry that I can't seem to get pictures "lined up"...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Color!

Liberty Farm comes even more alive with the spring time change.  Longer hours of daylight following Weekend Farmer Husband's "regular" job gives birth to months and months of projects that have been languishing in the dark of winter.

When you're 112 years old you're bound to have some new wear and tear following wind, snow, ice, cold, and exposure.  Our barn took the worst of it this year.  There's some substantial structural damage, and although fixable, it will probably take us the whole of spring, summer, and fall to piece by piece repair her.  We're deeply grateful that given the nature of the problem there was no damage that can't be shored up.  Praise.

So while we work, work, work - and this is well before any gardening...which adds ( you got it), more work - I don't have freedom to write, write, write.  I miss it.  But, I'm embracing and joyfully entering in to this wonderful time of productivity.

My camera has been at the ready though.  Even when I can't put words to the days, I can click and capture the images that bring a smile, remind me of the Giver of good gifts, and allow me to share with you the little wonders that make up our hours.

 These final pictures are especially precious to me -

One of the rites of Spring for us is play in the sandbox, wearing swimsuits, with infinite access to the garden hose.  A whole season's worth of pent up design and winter white skin buds out in the gritty earth, and creative, harmonious, productive play goes on for days as their visions take shape.

Who knew that on March 14, we'd have better than 80 degrees in West Michigan?  I don't think my kids have ever had a sunburn in March :-)

For this long hair lovin' mama, his recent declaration that he's not cutting his hair until August is a fun announcement!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Meeting you in the Kitchen

It's a  wonder to me that I ever found time to blog - before I decided to post only once a week for Lent, that is. Somehow ,entering in to the idea and discipline of less time at the computer has become almost no time at the computer at all, and I don't think that's the experience I'm trying to cultivate.

I miss chatting with you, the easy sense of relationship we've cultivated, and the fun of capturing moments of the gift of life in words and photographs.

I miss your comments (however few - each one is precious and a blessing to me).

I miss the practice of writing and organizing thoughts, experiences, and common threads into a whole with the self imposed and often missed mark of 500 words - give or take.

Remember, at the outset, I didn't present any lofty goals and specific plans for personal development or spiritual growth for Lent.  I was quietly prompted by the Holy Spirit to put this place way down on the priority, time, and attention list.  So I did.

Last Monday, I had eleventy billion potential posts rattling in my brain - and not even 11 nano seconds to write it down and make my list of gifts to share over at Ann's.  I'm confused. Shouldn't I have more time?

But, you know it.  So do I. A vacuum in this every day hymn of moments, opportunities, demands, temptations, and racing second hands on the clock doesn't stay empty.

Monday. Wednesday. It doesn't matter.  What matters is that the point of pen on paper carries on and the list is never abandoned - even if there isn't the stolen slice of time to build community with thanks givers, list cultivators, Christ followers.

So, I come to it late.  Sort of.  I've been a keeper of the kitchen this week.  We've been given several opportunities to savor being home, and I've enjoyed cultivating a richer sense of this by bringing beauty and feasting of all sorts to the family table.

As I chop, I hear the rhythm. Stanzas of thanks making their melody in my heart:

Weekend Farmer Husband and Firstborn son, chatting long and easily on the telephone.
Mutual respect growing between father and son, sharing adulthood now.
Pandora streaming in the living room - Bach lending glory to the sound waves, strings making my heart soar.

Rich yeasty bread ready to serve.  It's heartiness and nutty sweetness beckons us with it's fragrance.

And we gather, yet again, to break bread and share what we learned today with Weekend Farmer Husband.
Safe return for Weekend Farmer Husband who worked late and traveled far.
First Lord's Day, receiving, tasting, dimly seeing His body broken for me.

Saturated color, sharp fragrance, and daughters helping brings joy to the cyclical nature of kitchen work.

Psalm 127 - "Children are an inheritance from the Lord".  Enjoying the heritage I've been given.
Polka dots - I never tire of them!
Blonde curls.
Sisters surveying their handiwork and declaring it "good".

Spicy, clean fragrance filling the home.

Windows thrown open - wind carrying the earthy smell of spring into the house while lemon, rosemary, and vanilla bubble gently on the stove.
Bike tires getting pumped up and children in shorts riding wild and free up and down the driveway, winter white legs bending a little too far - we've grown.  Time to adjust the seats.

Already well into celebrating a birthday. We started early.

Lighting and re-lighting candles so mommy could get a good picture of blowing...sweet patience.
Pineapple upside down cake.  First time success!
Root beer floats - the perfect dessert.

Finally, the gift of time, I need not be overly mindful of what day of the week it is. Because gratitude - this work of cultivating a list - is a holy work and it's essence will draw me to the cross, a resurrected Savior, and that has never been dependent on linking up "on time".