Sunday, June 16, 2013

Moments That Take Our Breath Away ...

There are moments. Moments etched into your very soul. No words ... no mortal words could possibly do justice to the moment. Just your heart feeling absolutely blessed. Absolutely changed. You can't put words to that ... so, you just breath and take it in. Keep it in your heart ... forever. The type of moment when you breath in ... and, you are so caught up in that moment ... you don't breath out. You hold it. Because you know, your life has just changed. It will never be ... the same.

The first time I looked into his eyes ... the eyes of my husband. I held that breath. That moment.

The instant I laid eyes on each of my newborn sons. Knowing they were the best part of me and my husband ... perfection in my arms. That breath was caught in my throat. Nowhere for it to go but ... in my memory. Forever.

The night my grandfather passed from this earth and into the hereafter where he waits for us. Our entire family, circled around the hospital bed ... he took my hand in his and pressed it to his lips. A kiss goodbye. I took that breath and kept it.

Many more. I can't possibly fit them all into this one space. But, one more, I want to share with you today ...

I took another breath and held it. The phone call we had each been waiting for ... came. I sat at work ... at my desk. Trying to concentrate. I couldn't. Stacks of files scattered on my desk ... each with a name that needed my attention but ... only one name had my attention. A name not on my desk ... My niece, Hope, was at Riley Children's Hospital. Waiting for the final word from her physician. My sister's voice on the other end of the line. Hope was coming home ... without the aide of a trache. At that point, Hope had lived with a trache for 10 years 4 months and three weeks. Hope was born without the ability to breath on her own. At birth, Hope held her breath. Not by choice but by force. She could not breath. Her jaw was so small, it choked her air passage. Until the trache was put into place and ... she breathed. On this day, all those years came to a moment when she would undergo a sleep study. Countless surgeries. All to bring her to this ... this moment. Breath without a trache. And, it worked. The doctors all told my sister and her husband ... this might not work. Hope might never live without a trache. The sleep study was a success. Hope came home. Waiting. The sleep study was one step in a walk toward absolute freedom. Hope slept at home without any tubes or machines. If there were no complications during the following weeks, Hope would go through another surgery to close the stoma. The small hole in her neck where the trache had been placed for 10 years. There were no complications. Another trip to Riley and ... home again with no trache and a fully closed stoma.

Last week, Hope did something she has never done before ... she showered on her own. Something we all take for granted. Water running down her head and body. My sister watched Hope and ... held her breath. I'm sure that breath will be etched in her memory ... forever. I know there will be countless other moments as Hope experiences breath without a trache. Each one will be held by her mom, dad and older sister. And, by Hope.

Years ago, my sister placed the following quote in a frame. It's in her home to this day. That frame is surrounded by pictures of her family.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away."

Passages in Luke tell us that Christ's mother kept moments in her heart. Luke 2:19 "But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." I truly believe moments like this are from Him. Gifts to hold on to ... to keep and ponder. Moments to remind us ... He is there. While this world is not perfect ... He is perfect. Every good and perfect thing is from Him. Keep those moments in your heart. Hold them safely in your memory.
Genesis 2:7 "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."

Shelter From the Storm ...

2:30 a.m. Dark. Our family of five is safely tucked in bed. Four of the five are sleeping. I'm awake. I've been awake for over an hour. Listening to the rain as it pelts against our home. The wind is not as bad as it was three days ago when a massive storm ripped through our area ... but still, it sounds bad to me. I slide out of bed, trying not to wake Jerry. I walk to the patio doors, flip on the outdoor light and watch. The wind isn't that bad. I turn off the light and walk to our back door. I open the door and flip on the outdoor light. I look out the screen door. Frown. Are they safe? The new family living beside our deck, to the right of our side door ... are they safe? Did they move to a dry place before the rain started? I want to go out and check on them, but, the rain is coming down too hard. I would be soaked just stepping outside and taking a quick look.

On Friday night, one of our barn cats decided to move her babies under our deck steps. On Saturday morning, she moved them again ... to the right side of the deck. Totally exposed to the elements. We have a few ornamental shrubs planted there but they aren't big enough to give any shade or protection.

I closed the door and went back to bed. Sad. Let nature take its course. If she didn't move them, they'll be dead by morning. They are small and weak. Not big enough to understand ... find shelter. Not big enough to know where to find shelter. I've lived on a farm long enough to know ... don't intrude on nature's cycle. In the past, I've tried and I always end up making things worse. I crawl in to bed. Sleep sneaks in as I think ... sad. Why would that mommy cat put her babies ... there? She knows the elements. She knows her babies are small and weak. Why not the barn? It's big and has lots of safe places to hide her little family. Why not one of our two sheds? There's plenty of space, plenty of choices. But, she chose that place beside our deck... totally exposed.

This morning, I woke up and my first thought was ... are they safe? Did she move them? Quietly, I slid out of bed, pulled on my bathrobe and went to the side door. The deck was still wet from the rain. Puddles gathered in our driveway. I step out and look. She's there. The mommy sees me and leaves her babies. Jumps up onto the deck and looks at me with peaceful eyes. She's expecting food. All our farm cats know ... I go out early in the morning and feed them. I bend down, rub her ears and look to find ... her babies. All three, curled up in a tight ball together. Resting. Peacefully. And, I realize the mommy is soaked from rain. The spot where her babies sleep ... is dry. Everything around them is saturated and holding water. But, they ... they are dry. I look to her and then back to her babies. She jumps down and huddles over them.  She looks up at me and blinks. The rain starts again. Sprinkles cling to her whiskers. She closes her eyes and ... stays, huddled over her most precious possessions. I realize, she spent all night ... through that entire storm ... curled up over her babies. Protecting them from the storm.

I kneel down and watch. Why did I doubt she would take care of them? Why did I think ... she wouldn't know what to do or what was best for them? They are hers and she loves them. She didn't take them out of the storm ... but, she did shelter them during the storm. She didn't leave them.

I go back inside, pour a cup of coffee and ... I feel peace. And, I think ...

In this world, we are exposed to elements. Trials. Temptations. Hurt. We find ourselves right in the middle of storms so violent, we think ... the storm will leave us totally soaked with pain. Unbearable. We want shelter, relief ... but, we don't know where to find the relief. Which way will take us out of the storm. Then ... He comes to us and covers us. Sometimes, He doesn't take us out of the storm ... He covers us during the storm.

Psalm 91:1-6 "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'  Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler.  And from the perilous pestilence.  He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday."