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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Needy

Recently, I have been deeply affected by a book on prayer written by Paul Miller called  "A Praying Life" with the subtitle "connecting to God in a distracting world."

I think what really grabs me is the way he points out God's attitide about our helplessness. 

If  I'm really honest, my own least favorite thing to see in myself is need or helplessness.  I love being self-sufficient.  It's the American Way!   I dislike asking for help, I dislike even admitting that I might need it.

But over the past two years of this "Stroke of Genius" path I've been walking,  Stu is not the only one who has had to face his radical need for help.  I have had to ask for help from my church and my friends and family just to make ends meet.  And that has taken me through levels of buried shame and guilt that I hardly knew were there.

As I worked through each newly revealed layer, I've had to call out to my Father in ways that seemed very foreign and painful to me.  Strangely, though, the response I seemed to get from Him was a big smile-----He had been waiting a long time to have conversations like this with me!  Far from having disdain for my need, He seemed to welcome it.  There was also comfort, simple but surprising answers to my problems, patience, forbearance,  delight.  I have to admit, His personality is much different than the perceptions that so often grip our minds.  He really gets some bad press, don't you think?    And we are naturally inclined to believe the lies about Him, it seems to me.  Which makes it all the more delightful, humbling, and penetrating when He reveals His real self to the likes of someone like me.  Wow.

Anyway, that's why Miller's book hit such a nerve.  He's put into words what I've been experiencing!

So here's the kicker:  I'm writing this with a temporary cast on my right wrist.  Not sure how the timing of this could be much worse-----we are one week away from the opening day of Grower's Market!   On Friday night I had a bad fall and landed hard on my right hand, breaking two bones in my wrist.  Aaaargh!   Any fantasies of self-sufficiency are now defunct.  After talking over the circumstances with Jerome, we have agreed that he will pick up the slack, and we will simply move forward with our plans to work together in the bakery.   We will call in help as needed, make what we can,  and laugh about life, and our neediness, and God's sufficiency.  And His great Good Will for us.  I can say that with sincerity, even with a broken wrist!  Now that right there is a miracle!  So if the bagels look a little different this week, you'll know why!  Bear with us, friends, and stay tuned-------the saga continues!!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Appalachian (or should I say Oregonian?) Spring

This year, to date, has been one for the records.(and we aren't even through February!)  You might even call it a comprehensive exam, with situations that forced me to review every lesson I've learned with God so far, putting them to practical use on a daily basis.  Terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.  I think it all picked up steam after I settled on the word "Yes" as my word for the year to contemplate.  And no, I don't think that's what brought on all this testing......it's more like it was the opening theme in a piece of music that had already been composed.  If you've ever heard "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland,  the opening 4 minutes sound to me like that "Yes"----and the incredibly active, energetic, explosive, and sometimes mysterious music that follows sounds like the score for this next period in my life!  (strangely, the link I found on YouTube was downloaded on March 26, 2011.  The date of Stu's stroke)  That piece also weaves an old Shaker hymn called "Simple Gifts" into the main theme-----I love how art can describe life so beautifully.  

In early January, I noticed that my big pizza oven in the bakery was not heating very well.  I called a repairman who had worked on some of my home appliances and asked if he worked on commercial equipment.  He said he'd take a look.
Well. I wish he had admitted that he didn't know how to fix my ovens.  He guessed and experimented and pushed and pulled and bluffed, and ended up breaking an expensive part-----and then didn't know how to go about fixing it, couldn't find the serial number, etc. etc.  He said he would call me back......but he never did. *


Great.  Now I have no big ovens, and am worried that they are so old I can't find parts!

Because it is my slow time of the year,  I didn't have big orders to fill, and I was able to take care of what was coming in using my small kitchen range.  But I needed to figure out what I would do for Grower's Market.  Should I even go back to Grower's Market?  Should I finally throw in the towel (or potholder) and seek some other line of employment?  Should I replace the ovens?  Where would the money come from?  And while I was evaluating the state of my equipment, did it really make sense to continue using the Mickey Mouse propane setup we had inherited when we bought the equipment?  

Really, I could hardly think about it because my daughter Rachel was due to give birth ANY MINUTE! 

Right here is where it's  very easy to fall into prolonged scenario building, frantic opinion seeking, or downright panic.  But I have learned a few things.  (My daughter Becky once described the process as "Stop, drop, and pray." ) Taking a deep breath and slowing down enough to hear the Father's perspective opens up windows and doorways you didn't even know were there.......and even if you have to wait for a while (I did), you can rest easy, knowing that He's got things covered.  Well, at least you're pretty sure he does.  You can't prove it.  You have to rehearse what He's already done, what his character is, and screen out all the static and anxiety that so wants to take over your entire being!  I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying it's possible.  And God helps us do it.

So, Justus Sterling Boettner arrived on January 14. (check out my post from Jan. 15 if you missed it)

Whew, now I could think about what to do.

Aaaargh.

I decided to call a different repairman, one who specializes in commercial equipment,  and ask his opinion about locating parts for my ovens. 

Night and day experience----the guy was clear, positive, and no-nonsense.  Yup, I could order parts.  He was able to tell me over the phone where the model number was.  Yup, it would be a good idea to switch to natural gas.  Yup, he knew a plumber that he would recommend for doing the gas plumbing.  By this time, I had mulled over the possibility of replacing my big ovens, and any way I looked at it, it would cost a big chunk of my savings.  I decided to take a chance on the ovens I already have.  I decided that somehow it was worth it to continue the bakery, even though I had no idea how I would build it the way it needed to be built.  I knew I was in need of help......big help.....and I had no idea where it would come from.  But I was getting a green light to move forward with this improvement.  I hired the plumber and the ball began to roll.

Well.

A couple of days after Justus was born, the pipes in my breezeway froze and then burst, spewing water.  I had to call Jerome (Rachel's husband) to find out how to shut off the water!  When he heard what was wrong, he gallantly offered to come over and take care of it for me (not something I would have asked, considering he was still adjusting to his newborn son, and he lives in Rogue River.).   Once it was fixed, though, we sat on stools in the bakery and had one of those special chats you sometimes have with people you love.  Just comparing notes on all the changes in our lives, confessing our bewilderment at some of the dangling question marks, reminding each other what we know about God.  I love that I can  go there with my son-in-law.

A few days later, I got a call from Jerome, asking if we could have a talk.
When I sat down with Jerome and Rachel the next day,  Jerome cleared his throat and asked me what I would think of him coming alongside me in the bakery and learning the business.  He and Rachel had already talked it over.....she was on board!  What did I think?

Well, I think it's an answer to prayer.
And I think it's scary and risky.
And I think it's going to be glorious and hard and challenging and eye-opening
And I think it's going to be.....fun!

I think it sounds like that music I love by Copland.

I was compelled to say "Yes"!

We are blessed to have some key people to advise us on how to make this transition, and as I said to the kids as I was leaving that day "You know what we're really agreeing, don't you?  We're agreeing that we want to be praying ALL THE TIME,  because that's the only way we'll be able to navigate it all."  And you know what?  That made us all happy :-)

P.S.  By the way, after a three week wait, which seemed like an eternity, the parts for the oven came in, and on Friday I baked my first bagels in the newly functioning bottom oven.  Only two weeks away from the opening day of Grower's Market.  Whew......just in time!
Now we're cooking with gas!  In more ways than one :-)
The saga continues!  I will keep you updated on our progress as we go along.

Until next time,

Sue

*( I have since contacted his company and told them my story.  They said he would contact me.  He hasn't.  They haven't compensated me for the part......but at least they know what he did.)







Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Prayer

"Marriage is hard.  Stay married anyway" Christy Ann Coats (click the link for her very poignant thoughts, esp. regarding her grandparents.)
Well, I couldn't have said it better myself.
It's what I thought as I left the nursing home last night.
The notice on the door didn't help----I can't remember the wording, but it was a warning that
there are quite a few residents who are down with the flu, and the main thought was, "Enter at your own risk!"
Well, marriage is a little like that, isn't it?  Enter at your own risk?  Who knows what you're going to encounter?!
I had just been down for a week with the flu myself, so I was cautious----I actually requested that Stu meet me at the door so I could take him across to NewSong church for the Wednesday bible study. 
Bible study was warm and thought provoking----Stu has gotten much more relaxed over the past few months, and actually had questions to ask, and a few observations.  The group is welcoming and kind, and Wednesdays are a bright spot in the week for us.
But as I walked back across the parking lot with Stu in his wheelchair, I had to decide whether or not to enter that building, with all its risks.  Somehow, it was better to go all the way in, walk down the corridor with him, navigate the turn into his room, watch as the caregivers hooked up the sling under him and hoyered him out of the wheelchair and back into his bed.
Not exactly a Hallmark moment.
Or is it?
Before I left, Stu said he had made a valentine for me
 It says "It's not would you, could you, will you, or might you......it's you ARE my Valentine.  Love and Faith
          Stu  (not sure about the numbers at the end----I'll have to ask him what he was thinking)

What strikes me in this little episode is what has become evident as the theme of our particular marriage-----it's such an unfathomable mix of devotion, separation, despair, joy, slogging, soaring.  The main thing is, despite our personal failings, we are still a couple.  That is only by God's grace-----I am quite convinced that there is no program or checklist that guarantees the survival of a marriage.  I count among my dearest friends people whose marriages did not survive.  I have no trouble understanding-----it is a pure miracle, in my opinion, when two people can somehow agree that "Marriage is hard.  Stay married anyway"

My prayer this Valentine's Day evening is that the grace of God, which passes all understanding, fills your heart and strengthens you to withstand whatever challenge you face.  Whatever risky corridor looms in your life, may you know the One who walks before, beside, and behind you, hemming you in with LOVE.

Until next time!

Sue