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Friday, November 25, 2011

A Book of James kind of Thanksgiving.

Good thing I've read the book of James.
Otherwise I could not have endured Thanksgiving Day at a nursing home.
I was prepared for the general lack of hominess-----we've been enduring that for the past almost eight months.
I wasn't prepared for Richard.
He's Stu's new room-mate.
He arrived the night before, with a pile of smelly luggage.
Richard smells bad, looks bad, and acts horrible.
He seems to be in pain a lot, and groans loudly for long stretches of time.
"God, help me die!!!   Kill me, someone kill me"
When the pain subsides, he demands food or whatever else he needs without grace or consideration for the staff.

I find myself, for the umpteenth time, impressed by the self-control and patience displayed by the staff.  This is their Thanksgiving Day, too, and they are serving some distinctly unthankful people!   Neediness and pain are big trials for us all, and not everyone is considering it all joy:-)

We had already decided (wisely!) as a family to forego eating together at the nursing home.  Instead, Rachel and Jerome and the kids came to visit before the mid-day meal there.    Fortunately, I had thought to bring "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and the kids didn't seem to notice Richard and his groaning.   

We all got to watch as Stu used the transfer pole to get into his wheelchair,  a definite sign of progress.    Then Stu and I said goodbye to the kids in the big dining room, (not without a few tears) and they headed home to cook Thanksgiving dinner for later while I stayed with Stu for the afternoon.  (I joined them later-----a sweet evening together that ended with hymn singing.  Are you surprised that our last selection was "It is Well With My Soul"?  Always a treat to hear Jerome's fine voice and Rachel's sweet alto singing timeless words.  And the kids pitch in even when they don't know the words)

There were a few thoughts that helped me get through this "not-the-way-I-would-write-the-script" day.  

I realized that there must be many, many people on this earth who were having a less-than-joyful day.   People in abusive situations; prisoners; people without family;  homeless, forgotten people.   My prayers for them were heartfelt!   I was experiencing a little of their disenfranchisement today.   I prayed that they could experience the comfort of having the Lord Jesus at their side.

I also thought about a hundred years from now.  How would I like to remember going through this difficulty?  Walking through it with faith, holding my head up cheerfully and encouraging those around me, as Jesus encourages me.  That sounded right.

Let me confess that this morning when I woke up, my heart was full of lament.
"God, why are you putting Stu and me through this trial?   What about Christmas??!!!  Ugggghhhh"
Is my heart that much different than Richard's?  
Not in it's raw state, it's not.  
Smelly luggage and all!   
God patiently deals with me every single day.  
And he has given me some words to live by, and the light to absorb them.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence.  Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Apparently God's perspective is longer-ranging than mine:-)  He's aiming at eternity!   I can be truly grateful that he has taken me in hand, and shows no sign of letting go.  Now THAT'S Thanksgiving!

Christmas season, here we come!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Schvesters Hit Grants Pass!

Stu's Sisters, Sandra and Brenda, traveled from Rhode Island (Sandra), and Colorado (Brenda) to see their brother this week.  What a blessing.   For those of you who don't use Facebook, (where I posted more of them) I thought I'd share some of the pictures I took while they were here.
I think they cheered him up:-)

Sandra, left, Brenda, on the right
Lily enjoyed the Aunts very much. 
As always, Lucas entertained us with his antics.  When he appeared in this get-up, we were all cracking up.  He's a ship's captain, FYI
Brenda and Shayna.
The Aunts were impressed with Shayna's reading ability.  Lucas has a ways to go----note the book in his hand.   Upside down.
Sheathing his sword-----a wooden one made by Stu for Becky many years ago----the R was for Rebecca AND Reepicheep:-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Peace.....where are you?

Peace Rock

From my journal a few days ago:

 When I walked in, he was crumpled in his bed, his head small and buried in the pillows, his eyes huge behind his glasses.  He looked lost and a little mental.  He wore only a polo shirt and briefs-----no shorts.  He was covered by thin white hospital blankets.  "Hi, Sue" he said, in his abrupt, muffled voice.  Since the stroke, his voice has changed.
"Are you getting up for dinner?"  I ask
"No" he says
My heart sinks.
Something in me rises up in outrage, disappointment, fear.  I want to chastise  him, change his mind.
Something stronger, though, meets the flood of reaction and counsels me to hold my peace.
Peace......where is it?
My heart is so broken at the futility of his situation, all I can do is sit quietly and wait for the peace that has carried me through all the turbulence to re-surface.
It takes many minutes.
I am very quiet.
And then I start to weep, overwhelmed with sadness.
He is quiet, watching and waiting.
The tears are a wordless confession of my helplessness, and they speak volumes to him.
As I cry, I am relinquishing the bitter accusations, the assumption that he is "doing this wrong"
I am relaxing enough to consider that this may be exactly how he's supposed to go through this.
As I cry, I am admitting that, at the core, it is You, Lord, who is steering this situation, and if you are not revealing yourself to him in a way that looks familiar to me, it says more about my limited scope than anything.

The enemy attitude in my heart shrinks, loses its hold, slinks away.  I am left with......Peace.  There it is!
I look again at Stu.
We talk quietly to each other, I wish I could remember the words.
He has a gift for relating to me in my brokenness, it doesn't upset him.
In fact, it seems to bring out the best in him.

I tell him that although I dislike the circumstances, our relationship is so important to me that I push through them to stay connected.  He makes me say it again, he loves it so much.  I also tell him he is a good husband, and he makes me repeat that, too.  "I know you wouldn't say that if you didn't see it."  he said.  True.  I see it because of you, Lord.  You are my light.  Today I pray for as much of that light as you can allow me.  The times are dark, but you are not.
For a short space in time, we are Stu and Sue, transcending earthly travail and reaching up to touch your face together, Lord.  It's a promise from you.  Someday we will live forever in joy with you.  Until then, we keep the faith, each in his own Godgiven way.  And we speak the truth in love, one to another. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


They're working on it.......:-)

"Is Stu home yet?" 
My favorite question :-(
The answer is so simple----but so complicated.


I struggle with all the elements that go into that "no."

And the questions that come next (I would ask them myself)
"Do you know when he'll be able to come home?"  or "How come?"

One of the things I love about our church is the fellowship time afterwards-----sometimes as I talk things over with my friends there, I get some insight about what's happening in this situation.  It happened today as I answered these questions in a group of ladies who have been following the saga since it started.   I ticked off the complications:  The remodel is progressing, but we battle weather and schedules----almost all the work is volunteer, so weekends tend to be when work can be accomplished;  Stu himself is far from recovered, and requires major care, but until the bathroom, flooring, roofing and addition walls are finished, I can't really start the process of interviewing caregivers.  I need to give them a time when they will start-----but I can't predict when the work will be finished!  All the equipment needed also has to come through SDA, and who can tell how long that will take?   There's more, but I think you get the drift.

As I described all the factors that are conspiring to keep Stu at Laurel Hill, it struck me that they are like cords of difficulty, binding him to an unhappy circumstance.  If you have read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", you will remember the scene where the witch has the great Lion Aslan lashed to the stone table, after shaving his mane (a picture of humiliation), and then kills him.  He is left on the stone table, hopelessly lashed to it, and Susan and Lucy watch from the shadows, devastated by the tragedy.  They want to unbind him, but they don't have the power.  They feel utterly helpless and broken-hearted.   But God sends unlikely liberators, doesn't he?   Mice!  Mice nibble away at the cords and free Aslan.   And then Aslan comes back to life!

I think that sometimes we are lashed to our circumstances with cords we don't know how to sever.  And I think it's easy to look at the difficulty we're facing and despair.  But God has ways of liberating us that are so simple and unexpected, it makes me laugh out loud with delight.  I am learning to expect it of him!   So, as bewildering as the current state of affairs seems, with more loose ends than finished,  I trust that God knows exactly what He's doing-------he is knitting together things I don't even know about.  I think gratefully of the long string of miracles that has bound this chapter of our life together, and I take heart.  God's knitting is more enduring than those dark cords that trouble us!

As always, I will keep you posted!

Until then, join me in keeping the faith, friends!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's been happening........

Heavens, where do I start?
October was so crammed with miracles, I've lost count.
Oct. 3 was the anniversary of our vow renewal ceremony a year ago.   So this year, I "celebrated" by falling off a ladder while working on the bathroom remodel and breaking a bone in my wrist.  It's a stretch for even me to consider that a miracle----but as I think it over, it seems to have opened the door for all kinds of help.  Somehow, my left arm sporting a purple cast seemed to make my need for help obvious:-)  And help was abundant!

Our dear friend Moriah Yoho arrived on October 6 for a ten day visit, which was, of course, planned before my accident-----but the timing was interesting, don't you think?  Her companionship and assistance were such a comfort during that time.  I thank God for her!  She is a talented photographer, and took some amazing pictures during our time together.  Hope most of you got the picasa link I sent by email.  My computer skills are not strong enough to figure out how to share them here.  If you are not on my email list and would like to see them, contact me at vesuevius@gmail and I will share the links with you.

So, at the start of October, we had the bathroom framed, and the rest of the cottage was gutted, with only one electrical outlet in use.  In one short month we saw the roll-in marble shower installed, the concrete foundation for the additional room poured, the room framed, all the walls in the cottage mudded, taped, primed, textured and painted, the vinyl floor in the bathroom laid, all the electrical work finished, (My cool cobalt blue track lights are in place and  Right now we are waiting for a few clear days to get the roof done and the walls of the addition up and finished.  This weekend Jerome and his friend Jim are scheduled to put in the laminate flooring and hang doors.  Lord willing the bathroom will also get finished (the sink and toilet need to be installed)  Keep in mind that all this is being accomplished by volunteers in their spare time!  Huge thanks are due to Bernie Conrad and his friend Earl, who cheerfully showed up for a week to do all the painting prep work (the job I tried to start that led to my purple cast).  Bernie also found me a jewel of a painter who did a beautiful job with the interior walls.  

I also need to acknowledge the huge gift of time and expertise that has come to us through John Lingafelter, of Lingafelter Construction, who is helping us with the addition.  What a gifted contractor he is----watching him work is an inspiration!   

Tim Kasdorf is another professional who has graciously contributed time, materials,  and expertise to frame the bathroom and advise us on what kind of shower and fixtures to install.  His cheerful spirit is infectious----we are privileged to know him!

I have not even mentioned the work that Youth For Christ has done all during this month, outdoors.  I think that deserves a separate blog!  They are amazing young people-----one of them poked his head in to the bakery as he was leaving and thanked us for allowing him to help!  That just melts my heart.  

So, when I say miracles, imagine that they have names and faces:-)   God truly is building this house, and he is using willing servants to do it.  

And how is Stu, you ask?  I think that deserves a separate blog, too.  Stay tuned:-)