I’m processing. And in this chapter of life it seems there is so much to process.
Last year’s posts uncovered some of what was going on inside this blogger. In the early days and weeks of 2018, . . . more to process!
Sharon and I returned from our tenure of missionary service in Africa mid 2015 and continued with speaking in churches through the end of that year and a bit into 2016.
Life took a turn.
I was processing myriads of pages and writings as I worked in an educational program. Challenging developments within the topic as related to the dissertation, informed as well by life circumstances, meant giving up this project into which I had poured enormous energy and resources for several years. I had invested thousands of hours, of dollars, and of both air and ground miles to several strategic research sites on the globe. The project had involved sitting hours per day at a desk, poring over original documents, reading numerous sources, writing, thinking, and, of course, substantive consulting with numerous informed persons.
Not reaching the goal felt like a dream shattered, like a bone China platter splattered into ten thousand shards. And, no, I couldn’t pick it up and put it back together, at least certainly not as this project had been envisioned.
No longer in the role of teaching I so enjoyed, including the teaching I did in Africa, no longer on the speaking trail, life had taken a dramatic turn. All so different than I envisioned when I entered and engaged that last degree program. All so different than I conceptualized about some concluding chapters of a career. I had hoped to make good use of the capping of my prior education with this ‘terminal’ degree in these years of my career and on into retirement. I envisioned its use in Kingdom service.
Informing our decision to return to the States was the realization that we had been away from family most of 11 years.
Besides grandchildren growing up largely without these grandparents, and, of course, away from our children and their spouses, Sharon and I had the sense that we now needed to be there for family. Challenging circumstances in the lives of our children beckoned our attention and engagement. Family has always been high on our list of “the important” in life—in fact, second only to God.
Five years into our African service, we returned home for the heart gripping experience of a liver transplant in our youngest grandchild. The diagnosis of biliary atresia for this infant meant something must be done. Over a period of a few months, his life was slipping away. Several months of anxious hoping brought no options for a cadaver liver.
Our son determined that this little one would not slip away from our family—not on his watch!
He cleared his schedule with his boss, flew half way across the nation, took the necessary medical tests, and offered himself as the donor. When the surgeon carried the partial liver in a cooler from the St. Louis Barnes Jewish Hospital across the skyway to Children’s Hospital, the liver section was a perfect fit! The upturn in the little one’s health was immediate and dramatic! Today this nine-year old is a picture of health with energy to burn!
Our son’s health was good in general for several years. By 2015, however, something was happening. After much agonizing to try to get a grip on the nature of the problem, came the realization that the lovely home they purchased had in prior years had water damage in some of the floors and lower walls. Mold! The spore count was literally squeezing his health away from him. Killing him!
The family had to move from the house, leaving everything. The crisis, with its incredible emotional demand for their immediate family that included angst and agony in parents on both sides, was enormous. The saga was long—over a period of numerous months.
But then came an unexpected, but incredible, answer for their house.
Our son heard of others who had experienced something similar. He learned that the diffusing of certain essential oils into the house would tackle, would overcome the mold spores. He and his wife decided that, in view of the very real prospect of losing the house and property they loved, they would give it a try. They ordered scientific air sample tests in the house before the diffusion and again after. The post-treatment mold spore count was dramatically different—reduced to a very low number!
Well, . . . there’s more to the story, but today the family is enjoying their home and our son, along with parents, are incredibly grateful for the return of a high level of his health!
We have two children. Both have families.
Some days ago, our daughter called.
She asked if her mother and me were sitting down. Immediately we were on alert. She shared that she had been diagnosed with a form of aggressive and advanced breast cancer.
What a shock! And to her! She thought she had been keeping up with appropriate medical checks. Where had been earlier stages? ! She is a wife, a mother of three including the transplant recipient. She makes the trip to St. Louis every several weeks to keep the appropriate tabs on his situation.
Well, among the numerous things for working through in our post out-of-country service, this one has been a blow! Sharon and I are processing. We are carrying within us this ‘heavy’. Praying, praying—and intentionally also lifting up praises. We really do have much to praise for, including two marvelous children and families. Both children share of their Christian lives and experiences and of their engagement in Kingdom service. They are married to wonderful spouses. And of course, they have marvelous children—yes, I am a proud grandfather! For this we are deeply grateful.
There’s a lot of heart grip in so many lives these days.
We know this even as we process this weight in our spirits in these times. We are deeply grateful for friends and family who care—and who engage our heavenly Father with us in prayer! And we seek to do that for those of our family and friends who are processing their gripping experiences as well.
What we know is that our Father is strong!
He is the designer of shalom. Our trust is in Him.
Sharon and I have found profound ministry these days in the following verses from Luke chapter 1, from the “Benedictus” of Zachariah:
. . . because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun
will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace (shalom).
~ (vv. 78-79, NIV).
He Himself is our shalom! (Eph. 2:14)
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
~ Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel