Hugh Martin's penned phrase rang across the Cocoa Beanery, pulling me out of my funk a few weeks ago. It was a week before Christmas, and all our most loved wanted "for Christmas," when asked, was for me to be healthy and able to speak again. The kindest answer anyone could give. It felt heavy at first, but I knew it was the kindest request. Hoping that prayers are answered to have this present ready for Christmas, I continued to dread staring down my mental list of all that I should do before Christmas to make it special. The wrestle is, if my heart would be light, I should erase the mental list, do nothing for anybody, and just be. It seemed like the most selfish but necessary spot to be in.
Although, the selfish idea is not appropriate at this point. Like if a baby is crying and the mother needs to eat. It would do more harm for the mother to feel selfish and not eat than it would to let the baby cry for a minute and have at least a few bites before going to pick up the child. The worst response would be to not eat, get agitated that as a mother you have not time to eat, and live in a constant state of re-action for the things that need to get done. How can there be a light heart in that situation?
When my mind spins on about an idea, it is how to make that idea the most spectacular anyone has ever heard of. I cannot settle on the Christmas cards that came. I had the picture taken with the best camera on the market, they came out fuzzy, and all 200 cards were not stamped or sent before Christmas. Go figure. For the first time in a month, yesterday I was able to do the grocery shopping and a few errands without getting worn out, so another trip to Staples to have them reprinted is out of the question. Now, I want to do a year-in-review, with a picture of Naomi and David reaching their target height at Hershey Park, my little Reeses' and Hershey bar beaming with excitement in the picture from David's 4th birthday. So today, does a light heart just send out the 200 Christmas cards, bury them in the basement and send nothing, or work for hours on a year-in-review, wait days to have it printed, and during appointments next week, frantically fill out and stamp?
The most hilarious part of all of this, is that my disease gets worse with stress. Myasthenia Gravis increases the production of the antibody attacking my system as my stress level increases. So the wrestle I work mostly with, is taking my visionary and fantastic ideas, try to not be stressed that I cannot accomplish or do them, and run with whatever I've got, being still in the moments. I've heard a million times that the Lord's "yolk is easy and His burden is light." I know what it feels like to have a huge weight on my heart lifted off and feel "the peace that transcend's understanding guard my heart in Christ Jesus." It is truly a glorious place to be in. It is unexplainable, and even when the most cunning dart is flown into our little family, the peace is still there in a profound way.
After the "Merry Little Christmas" phrase jogged me away from a thought pattern of disruption, the walk to the car led me right back to it. The calendars are only done for one side of the family, the presents are not organized and I have to buy new clothes because something is contaminating me when I wear clothes from home. Is it mold? Is it an air quality issue? Should we move out? I have 3 hours before I have to be somewhere. I sit in the car. Where do I go? Will I even be able to see the family for Christmas or end up back in the hospital?
A perfect bald eagle flies straight over the car.
The bird of the United States of America. The bird from the song I grew up with, "He will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the break of dawn." The bird from the scripture I have memorized about eagles, "who satisfies you with good,so that your youth is renewed like the 's," from the richly worded Psalm 103. I will have to lace into a study on Eagles at some point.
So today, Dec 31, 2014. I look back at the Christmas break. For the first time in 5 years, Mike had time off to travel and visit family with us. I was unable to talk much of the time, but I was able to listen. I listened. I listened. I listened to family I haven't listened to in years, maybe never, and I was quick to listen because I could barely speak, but I know full well that we are called to be "quick to listen and slow to speak." We baked cookies at my sister Nora's house, she and Amanda coordinated with Santa to have presents wrapped in special paper and had him sign each one in fancy letters. Amanda and Jim were the air traffic controllers for the midnight sleigh that flooded presents into my parent's house. My parent's welcomed our new nanny and nurse, Miss Sherpa, with open hearts, probably her first experience with any american Christmas. Michael led our family in prayers in the car and the children in paths of righteousness. We attended Christmas Eve service at the church I grew up in and the youth acted out the gospel in perfect pageant style, possibly the first time for Miss Sherpa to see. I started taking prednisone and did not get worse enough to be in the hospital. I learned to speak in 2 or 3 words when my heart wanted to say 20. Christmas morning, the sparkle of light burst in the kids eyes as they found the eaten cheese cake and snowflake with Santa's note on it. We were there for Samaha brunch and all the fix-ins, biscuits and made-to-order eggs. The sjoelbak was brought up from the basement and the sjoel schijven smacked around for the rest of the afternoon and evening. As roast turkey filled the air we bustled to get dinner on the table. Well, they made me sit and be served and I felt a lighter heart to do so knowing Miss Sherpa was helping. Quiet Chritmas dinner with the five of us, my parents and Amanda, and Jimmy came for dessert and scotch. We did a full pack-up the next morning to head for Connecticut for VanWaalwijk Christmas. Oma was elated to have her original 5 children in one home for a day. I have never listened so much. I felt like I should have a pair of knitting needles, and the thought jolted Mike, where he saw the next 50 years robbed of me as I sat with Oma, looking sickly and doing nothing. But air clears when you are around people who love and support you, and he quickly spoke truth to himself and to me, grateful for much.
We had a whirlwind stay at a hotel in Newtown with a jumbled breakfast of too many choices. I had a few good cries but grateful we finished with smiles and loving sisters and brothers parting ways for a handful of weeks. We made our way south to North Haledon, to Mike's parent's house, to have Christmas with the Links. The kids were elated to open their beautiful sleeping bags and David's 50 car set. The TV rolled in the background as laughter and whoops filled the air. Dad took us to the wildlife center, and the kids darted from animal to animal without a second to take in the moments. Mike and I took a ride to St. Joseph's Wayne General Hospital and visited Grandpa Link. The afternoon visit his only tangible thought was that he wanted some asparagus casserole. All other thoughts, he spoke of Heaven and being in glory with Jesus. The evening visit, he did not eat right away, after the 6th offer, and bringing the delicious homemade food to his mouth, did he begin to eat. About 20 bites later he finished. "Taste like a real dutch holiday," he said. As we ended our time together, I prayed but God led me to say the Our Father, which I knew Katie and Steve both knew. Once Steve and Katie chimed in, my voice went out completely. It was a perfect moment to hear the most adorable couple in the world praying for Grandpa. He said, "there is nothing that makes me happier."
Sunday morning we went to the church Mike grew up in, and had a wonderful service. The kids went to the montessori sunday school class and Mike and I went up for healing prayer after with long friends of the Links. Memories of cadets, flashbacks of his youth filled Mike, and he was touched. The kids bounced around the fellowship hall as we sipped coffee and Mike and Steve spoke with church members they had not seen in many years. Miss Sherpa went back to NYC Sunday night and we finished our time at the Links with Naomi's tooth falling out and lasagna dinner. One final visit to the hospital awarded music and hymn singing to the senior care ward. In the middle of random stories, clear as day, Grandpa Link said, "you never forget music." He asked for specific hymns and remembered every word. I'm just sorry we did not bring him some home made lasagna, because his dinner plate was sitting there, untouched. But, if I am really fighting for my heart to be light, he made it out of the hospital yesterday back to the Holland Home, so this is what we can focus on. Despite our best vision of excellence and servitude, God will turn any evil or missed opportunity and make it good.
On the way home, we stopped at Nutritionworks in Womelsdorf, PA and all had ionic foot cleanses. Noami had an appointment with Nutritionist Nurse Trista Grey, and they all had a hair analysis taken. My hair analysis from the prior month showed toxic levels of aluminum in my body at the same time that we discovered that the aluminum rod in our hot water heater disintegrated. So we have been bathing, washing dishes and clothes in contaminated water. Grateful for Reuben Martin of Martin's plumbing who installed a tankless water-heater while we were away and Jessica Fair of FairHaven Interiors who transformed our guest room into a mini-apartment for Miss Sherpa. Miss Sherpa reunited with us last night after I had an afternoon of errands and together with Mike we had Aunt Kathy's chili. Mike and David polished off the evening with the first viewing of Star Wars, and David is still sleeping off the late night.
So, on with the day. Let your heart be light. As I increase staff in our home, a common layman response is, "well that must be nice, have a housekeeper, a cleaning team, a landscaper. . ." The list can go on. But if our heart is truly light we can agree that the necessity of the situations lie in the household of the beholder. A doctor's wife goes it a lone, much of the time. If someone's dying form a heart problem, Mike being there for dinner one night isn't really that important. In order to make meaningful family time, it takes a village. It takes a staff, and we are exceedingly grateful for the family, friends, and staff who supported us this year. Wether in prayer or in deed, thank you.