Twenty-five years ago ... my glimpse

She was just a little girl - our 4-year-old little - spunky, strong-willed, energetic, full of life - girl.  Twenty-five years ago... the doctor told us we should do further testing... shouldn't still be hearing that heart murmur.  Funny, no one had ever told us she even had a heart murmur.  No symptoms - no shortness of breath - no lack of energy.  She had an ASD - a hole in her heart, that needed to be repaired.  Children recover much better than adults - the sooner the better.  After many hours of prayer and consultation, we planned for surgery.

March 15, 1991 - Being sensitive to her, the surgeon made the cut from the center of her chest in a vertical line concluding just under her left arm.  A chest tube was inserted just below the cut for drainage.  Surgery was successful and within 2 days, Katie was moved to a regular room.  The third day came with a vengeance  - high fever and an immediate medical reaction/protocol.  Bloodwork every 30 minutes to watch for infection and the call for an X-ray for clarity in next steps.

In order to achieve the needed picture of her heart, the instructions were clear and precise.  Frank encouraged as I followed the physical directions of the technician.  Katie was almost limp, could barely stand on her own, high fever for several hours, couldn't eat or drink, weak, and exhausted.  She must stand up against this wall... right here on the X on the floor.  She must lift both her arms above her head - her hands side by side just over her head.  Her little gown was sliding to the side - opened in the front so the technician could be sure the equipment was capturing the needed image.

"Mom, you have to step away from her for the X-ray."  

I stepped back and felt helpless. 
 I saw my child - in such pain. 

Her hands.. both bloody from necessary iv marks.... the nails driven in Jesus' hands.
Her raw stitches closing the gaping hole on her left side... His pierced side with a spear.
Her head plagued with the heaviness of fever slumped on her chest... He gave up His spirit. 
Her hair was matted from tubes and wires that had helped her breathe... His crown of thorns.
Her longing look to me for help... Jesus' words - My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?
Her kind glance to the nurse... Jesus' words - Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Never would I begin to equate my thoughts as a parent to the unthinkable pain and anguish between God, the Father as Jesus, His Son, was so brutally murdered; but for a moment my heart was breaking for that precious child of mine.  For just a moment, I experienced unspeakable emotion and, in my case, helplessness to know how to comfort her.

I promise you I would have taken every ounce of that pain and experience in place of Katie without a thought because I love her as fully and completely as humanly possible.

Our Father simply... "so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

I will never fully understand that love, but I am eternally grateful for it.  It is still the best news .... while his disciples were still talking about what had happened... "Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'"

Mrs. Willie simply said hello

Frank and I had only been married about a year.  He had a great job with a  textile company and had just been 'promoted" to shift manager - wow, that was great news - a promotion!!!  The plant ran a day shift (8 am - 6 pm), a night shift (10 pm - 6 am), and a mini shift (6 pm - 10 pm).  Frank was moved to mini shift - sounds great!!!  He only works four hours a day - same pay as a 10-hour position, same benefits - wow.. this is great news..

Great news until we sat down at dinner one evening to plot out our new life on a calendar - yes, a paper one - it was 1986!  Our excitement for the four hours a day thought quickly diminished as we realized that his only day off was Wednesday (the plant ran through weekends), and since we lived an hour away, he would need to leave by 5 pm.  Working for the school district office, my hours were set at 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.  So I was home by 5:15 - hmmm.. not the best reality for a newlywed couple.

Some of you will remember that we had moved to South Carolina right after we married and when we drove into the state, I uttered, "I know one person in this entire state - Frank Wilder... I'm glad I liked him...

Thankfully, we had gotten involved in a local church, so there were great friends, but 5:30-11:00 pm became the loneliest time for me.  Cross-stitching became my evening pastime, and the television quickly filled in as my best friend.

Until that is... my neighbor knocked on the door.  We had moved in just a few weeks earlier... she brought a pie, of course - to welcome us to the street.  She introduced herself as Mrs. Willie - short for Willimina and that was that.  She often sat on her porch and would wave as I pulled in the driveway.  She noticed my feeble attempt at planting flowers and gently offered helpful ideas and suggestions.  She asked questions - easy ones... where were we from?  Tell me about your wedding... Do you have siblings?

Many evenings she cooked and would catch me coming in with a simple invitation - "have plenty tonight, come on over!"  Somehow there was always enough to bring leftovers for Frank back home.  She was a widow, her children were grown and lived away, and she was gracious.  Most every conversation across the driveway began with, "hello, Susan..."

Do you know your neighbors' names?  Funny "neighbor" has such a friendly, positive sound to the word, doesn't it?  But remember when the Lawyer questioned Jesus about the greatest commandment, he was looking for a debate... how could Jesus say that one commandment was greater than another... they would have Him - He would fail the test!

Jesus simply... directly... said love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind... and love your neighbor.  Don't just love those neighbors, love them as you love yourself.

Teach them about flowers, know their names, take them a pie, invite them to your church this Easter ... maybe... just say hello.  Start there...  :)

Thank you, Mrs. Willie, for being my neighbor.

The house next door recently sold - I'll miss my friend, Linda; the new family should be moving in next week - better get baking...

Don't cry yet, Charlie, it's only halftime!

The game was extremely tense... the opposing team continued to stretch the lead.  Late in the 2nd quarter, the crowd (including most of my family) clearly communicated their concern with the seeming inconsistent officiating.  Tempers were flaring on the court and in the stands - cheering was loud - nerves were taut - all were standing in frustration.... (Are you feeling the heat, here??)  This IS high school basketball, at least in that gym on that evening.

Just seconds before half-time, our team was down by ten.  Even with his strongest 5-year-old resolve, Charlie just could not shoulder the pressure.  No one even noticed at first... the game was the focus... the heat of the moment... the passion of the love of this team.

He began to sniffle, then to cry, then to sob, then an all-out hysteria.  With many questions and much comforting, his words finally came...

 "We are going to lose - I don't want to lose!!!"

Oh honey, it's only halftime.  There is plenty of time for a turn around.  You know the coach, right??  He's your dad - you trust that he knows what he is doing, right?  He will talk to all the players during halftime... and, honey, it is just a game.  We just might lose, but that is okay, too.  So each of us took a turn encouraging Charlie, whispering in his ear that all would be well;  one held his hand; one reminded him of other games that felt this same out-of-control; another picked him up and just hugged him as his crying slowed.  That's what family does - when one is hurting or confused or frustrated or overwhelmed... or lost, we step in and offer... we offer what we have and what is needed.

Other games have been just as loud, just as intense, just as passionate... why such an overwhelmed reaction from our tenderhearted middle grandson this night.  Was he tired, was he just having an unusually hard day, had it been a bad week, was he frustrated with an older or younger brother, had someone hurt his feelings earlier in the day??  Many factors played into his response, but as I thought about it, I gained my own insight.

What days have I just felt like I couldn't get through it.  The day was just too much - the pressure was simply overwhelming.  I was tired.  The week had brought too many challenges.   How could she have believed that about me?  Why couldn't that friend just has understood what I meant?  When would I rest?  Maybe I needed halftime!

We know the perfect Father... we could compare Him to the coach like I did this time last year.  (You can click here to read that.. boys and basketball March, 2015)

For this day we have the privilege of knowing Him - the creator of the entire game.  Thanks be to His name that HE allows us to participate in the lives of others.  

Like Charlie sometimes I feel frustrated... overwhelmed... fearful... sad... angry... weary.  i just need someone to hold my hand, to remind me of God's provision, to literally lift me up.  How about you?  Who this week needs you to meet them in the bleachers and just sit beside them?

You know I'm still early in the Old Testament this year.  I continue to be again fascinated by the 40 years of wandering in the desert... and how very much they learned about the character and power of God.  Even as they learned, they knew they needed each other.  The picture of Moses following God's instruction to stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hand.  As long as his hand was raised, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the battle began slipping away.  So his friends.. his family stepped in...

When Moses' hands grew tired, 
they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. 
 Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - 
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  The battle was won.
Exodus 17:12

Doesn't matter so much, but the night we held Charlie's hand... we won the game.  :)

Boys and Basketball