Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The waiting is over! Christopher arrived at 4:56 a.m. Saturday after 30+ hours of labor. Mom was pretty tired, but so excited to finally hold their little bundle of joy. He weighed 7 lbs. 13 ounces, is 21 1/4 inches and has a little hair--unlike his cousins or his mom, uncle and grandparents when they were born. Hair must come from his dad's side of the family.

We are being doting and dutiful grandparents. Tom and I both have had lots of snuggling time with Christopher. It's fun to hold him and just soak in all his little newborn features. They change so quickly from newborn stage to the next. Other than snuggling, we are doing whatever seems to help the most--take care of dogs, get meals on the table, keep the dishes washed--all those things that seem so usual before there is a baby in the house. I think most new mothers are surprised at the amount of time a newborn takes and at how tired they are when they come home. So we're here for a few days to fill in the gaps and it's such a joy.

This is a perfect week for us to be here. There were only two appointments that needed to be rearranged for Tom and I am at the half way point between treatments which means my energy level is at its best. Along with our prayers for Marty and Christopher throughout her pregnancy, we prayed that it would be possible for us to be here. Your prayers and ours for safe delivery, a healthy baby and for our presence at this special time have been answered.

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Wonder Woman has left the building." I've lived my whole life believing that one could do whatever one set their mind to doing. I come from a long line of doers and strong women--and don't intend for the line to be broken with me. Away with fatigue; out with impatience; begone grumpiness!

My mother was forty three when my father walked out and left her with a child to raise on her own with absolutely no help from him. That was the late forties when divorce was an ugly word, women worked inside the home, not in the market place. She returned to school, completed training to be a liscensed practical nurse and worked in that capacity until a back injury put a stop to floor duty. Because she never learned to drive and we lived in a community with no public transportation, she walked the two plus miles to and from the hospital whether she had the day or the night shift. She was one strong woman.

That goes double for her younger sister, my other mother--the aunt who gave me a home when I needed it most. She is almost ninety and still lives alone on the farm where she has lived for the past seventy years. I never have seen her, nor have heard about her turning her back on hard work. She raised a family, cooked the best food ever, she kept house, did all the washing and ironing, helped do farm chores when neeeded and still had time to teach Sunday school. I grew up wanting to do things just like her. Her strength and deep faith have inspired me. Now, as I have become a care partner for Tom I am encouraged by remembering how she cared for my uncle when he too had an illness that made him old before his time.

Neither my mother, nor my aunt would expect the things of me that I expect of myself. They haven't thought of themselves as "wonder women." They got where they got, did what they did because they knew the strength they possessed came from God. I know the same; I just need to quit trying to run the show and depend on the One in charge. After all, I have been taught well.

Pastor Margaret

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"My cup runneth over." Across the room is a little bundle of pink, sleeping soundly and looking like the precisous angel she is. Across a couple of states is a couple who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first baby, Little Bird. There is a lot of talk around our house these days about babies. Lots of smiles accompany that talk. This week Elisa has outdone herself smiling. She has beautiful blue eyes and long dark eyelashes that absolutely melt you when she casts her gaze your way. Her schedule is pretty much: eat, play, sleep with the amount of time she spends on each different each time. We are learning how to get things done during the sleep times instead of just staring at her hoping everything is hunkey dorey in her world.

It's not like we haven't had infants in our care before. We have and they both made it to adulthood, but their continuing birthdays are reminders of how long ago they were infants. I'm afraid the shock of adolescence erased any helpful hints I might have remembered from the early stages of life. Then, they became adults and things changed again. I have loved--mostly--every stage of our children's lives and I treasure the memories, but I'll have to say that one of God's greatest gifts is for us to know and love them as the adults they are today!

One of those adults has five children of his own. I remember the disbelief expressed by the former high school principal when Tommy introduced Liz to him as "my wife." What would that man think if he could observe T & L with their family today? He would see a good looking, sensitive, articulate eleven year old who is affectionate, helpful and a terrific baby sitter. He would see a beautiful seven year old, looking very much like someone he remembers from another high school class--only the hair isn't quite the same color. She, too, is affectionate and helpful and loves to cook with her dad and Maw Maw. The third one is going to be the athelete in the crew. In the midst of all the football a couple of weeks ago, he came in asking his dad, "When will it be time for baseball?" He is inquisitive, plain spoken, unconsciously trying not to be branded as the "middle child." The former principal would have to look quick to see the two year old. She is always on the go, unless, of course, she has a book for you to read, then she's in your lap or close beside you turning pages as you read to her. We all read at her command. She talks a lot, but with her own language. Little E, pretty in pink, would wow even the sternest former principal. She has that way about her, even now. Look out world. Times change, people change. God is at work. I have to think Dr. R would be pleased if he could see Tommy's family today. He might not believe at first glimpse, but he would after a closer look. He would see a blend of mom and dad in all the children; maybe he would know, as I do, that this family is God's creation.

Marty and her husband are counting the days until their first baby arrives. They have a daughter by his former marriage and they share custody with the mother so we can look at a new baby as a first and an addition to the family. All three of them are excited. I'm not sure "excitement" adequately describes Tom's feelings. He is beside himself! My emotions are mixed. I've watched Marty all these years literally pour herself into the people she cares about. I've watched her as an animal lover take in pets no one else wants. I've watched her make tough decisions with her pets, grieve, then move forward. I felt her pain when in her first marriage she knew there would be no natural born children for them. I have seen her with her nieces and nephews and have known how she longed to be a mother. I have examined the depth of love for my children and have wanted, more than anything, for her to experience all that it is to be a mother. Now that time is here. Mothers and daughters may share many things, but to share what it means to be a mother has to be one of the best things of all. The different stages of Marty's life flash before me and I wonder how she will respond to those same stages in her child's life. Should I have loved her more? Why didn't I do things differently? I hope she learns from my mistakes. Most of all I want her to know how much I love her, that I am always here for her, that being a mother is a God given part of life. Without His presence and guidiance, we'd be lost--that's true in all stages of life. Soon, with the weather's cooperation, we'll be packing our car and heading east to welcome the newest blessing to the family. It is a day for which I have prayed and I'm grateful the prayer has been heard and answered with Bird.

The writer of Ecclesiastes writes so eloquently that "to everything there is a season." This is my season to be a grandmother and to cherish the relationships with my adult children.

Pastor Margaret

Friday, January 11, 2008

The weather here was horrific yesterday--Tuesday, too, for that matter. Tuesday there were tornadoes and high winds north of us and yesterday they were south and east of us. The local weather "gurus" interrupted the program I was watching and talked, predicted, talked and predicted for almost an hour. My thought is they were being paid by the word. We were cautioned about going outside in the 60 mile an hour straight line winds. Really. Who could even open the door with winds that strong? Stay away from windows because they could break from the pressure. I wonder if they thought the viewing public had fallen off a turnip truck.

While they were going on and on Tom was napping and Elisa was sleeping soundly on a blanket at my feet. I was formulating a plan to get both of them up and into an inner room away from windows etc. should a tornado visit us. I was also thinking how glad I was that my trip to the oncologist in Corinth, MS was Friday, not Thursday. Corinth was one of the areas right in the thick of things. Today I learned that the entire clinic had to be moved to the bottom floor to an inside surgical room. That meant taking twelve infusion patients down, each with a pole with drugs hanging. It was quite an ordeal.

Oncology nurses are among my favorite people! I have been helped, advised, served and loved by some good ones. At the UC Davis Cancer Center, they went the extra mile to provide information not on the printed page and to give practical hints about the particular drugs the person was taking. Terri, at UC Davis Clinic in Roseville, who drew my blood more times than I can remember became a dear friend--my only friend outside the church I served. We learned on my first visit to her that we share a common faith and we began to pray for one another. That bound us together. It was she who insisted I be seen and tested when I had the pneumonia that came close to taking my life. Terri has been a Godsend. The nurses at my new clinic told me that they and their patients are family and if ever I felt like I wasn't being treated like family, let them know. A little after five this afternoon the phone rang and it was one of the infusion nurses. The computer had just posted my CA125 and she called to "make our weekend brighter." It's 19.2--down from 27.something in December. She didn't have to do that. But her call did indeed put a smile on our faces. Some other personnel in the clinics have shown care and compassion as well. I remember the perky receptionist at the UC Davis clinic--always a smile, never ruffled. Ava, in Corinth, shed a tear the day we learned I would have to be treated again. She felt and shared my sadness with the bad news. I have been blessed with the best doctors anywhere. All have made this road a little less bumpy. All are answers to our prayers.

There was sunshine everywhere today. Exept for water standing in the fields there were no signs of the storms of Tuesday and Thursday. It was a beautiful day! Events of the week could be compared to the weather: some events were quite stormy; others were calm and full of sunshine. Many events connected with disease are stormy; some have rays of sunshine like when medication helps Tom's symptoms or chemo lowers the blood marker. Always, God is bigger than any storm. In the midst of the stormy weather we had our own sunshine provided by baby Elisa. How very special it is to have her with us a few hours a day! I know babies as young as she is aren't supposed to smile, but I have seen a smile or two this week--with no signs of gas present. A call from our daughter, about to have her first baby, lit up our whole house a big ago. She is so excited--as are we!

Here is my five sentence sermonette. Forget the storms. Watch for the sunshine. Rely on the promises of God. No, cling to the promises of God. Especially remember that He will never leave you, nor forsake you even in the midst of storms.

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The official college football season ended last night with the BCS Championship game between Ohio State and LSU. The SEC came out on top. Yea!! Now we're back to watching reruns of Law and Order and MASH--and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

I made an early call to our primary care physician's office yesterday and got Tom in to see the nurse practitioner after lunch. Tom's back had gotten worse over the weekend and he had to have some relief. A stronger pain medication was prescribed and a steroid to attack any inflammation. The pain pill has helped, but it's too soon to know whether the steroids are doing any good.

Today we had the pleasure of keeping our newest grandchild while her mom went back to her teaching job. It's been a long time since I've been responsible for a baby as young as she is. It was one of those "pray without ceasing" days. I found myself just staring at her throughout the day, thanking God for her, the life she has before her, the family she has joined and our being able to keep her for a while. Her being here was good tonic for her Paw Paw! And me too!!

I look forward to tomorrow.

Pastor Margaregt

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Football is interfering with my bedtime. I've had too many late nights watching games that turned out to be really lopsided from beginning to end. So why do I watch? I have this crazy thing about me that likes to see things finished. If I am watching a game, I want to see it all. I want to know who wins tonight--not read it in the paper tomorrow. If I'm watching a movie, I have to see it through until the end. If I have a nightmare, I can't go back to sleep until I have made up a satisfactory conclusion and I'm safe. Tom, on the other hand, leaves the game or the movie when he's sleepy or when it's his self imposed bedtime. Sometimes I wake him if the game gets exciting or to tell him who won. If we are watching a "whodunit," he can leave it just as the plot thickens. He may or may not ask in the morning what happened. I have to know now! I'm just curious that way.

Today I attended my first meeting in this presbytery as a member of Committee on Ministry. I served on COM in Sacramento Presbytery and was interested to discover the similarities and the differences in the way the two presbyteries run this committee. One difference is in the way new ministers are interviewed. In Sacramento small groups of volunteers from the committee took care of all interviews. Here, the entire committee does the interview. We had two ministers come before us today--one for an interim position, one for an installed position.

As I listened to them answering the questions on the Bible, theology, pastoral care and polity I found myself wondering how I would answer the same questions. I wondered how my answers today would compare to what I would have said five years ago. (That's not curiousity, but self reflection.) As God's people we should never be satisfied with what we learned yesterday, but rather keep our minds and hearts open so that we can learn what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us today. I was silently grateful for all of those who have taught me by their words and their example and for the experiences God gave me at FOPC.

The game is almost over. Tom went to bed about two hours ago and has been out at least six times to see when I'm coming. Each time he asks and I give him a brief replay of what has happened. I've already checked the TV schedule for tomorrow night and there is no game listed. Maybe I'll get to bed earlier. We both hope so.

Pastor Margaret