I do love Sundays, for so many reasons! This leads very logically to today’s list:
Today’s thankful things:
God’s grace – Though I don’t deserve it, I am so blessed to know that the incompressible, infinite, all-powerful God of the universe loves me. Kinda crazy and hard to understand, isn’t it?
Church family – Our church, Upland Community Church, is not just a building. UCC is made up of friends and family from many places, all of whom are special in so many ways! They offer help, comfort, encouragement, support and friendship that cannot really be quantified.
Carry-in Picnics – When a lot of good cooks bring food to a celebration picnic, tasty foods are there to choose from. After a hamburger with yummy sides, sugar cream pie cannot be beat for dessert. (…or fresh peanut butter pie, or gooseberry pie, or awesome cookies…)
Sabbath rest – Sundays are days that allow for rest in a special way! Though some work is necessary, rest from outside work and big responsibilities gives time to focus on what this day is all about.
Conversations with friends – Having the chance to sit and converse over fun foods was such a lovely time! It’s something I wish I could do more frequently, but life with an uncooperative body that likes to emphasize fatigue and lack of coordination, chances for nonawkward social times are treasured when then come.
Today, May 25, is World MS Day. In late February, I began a writing course, and much of my writing time has been devoted there. This blog shall begin regular posts by late June – I just feel that I must draw attention to this particular day! (Side note – I “celebrated” March as MS Awareness month by experiencing the most difficult MS month I’ve faced in 18+ years. That story will come later, as I really must finish my homework. But I assure you that I was very aware, as was my family.)
Those facing MS are asked to share their stories on this day, so I will do so in the form of a poem. It’s one I’ve shared before, but I refined it a bit. So in honor of World MS Day, here’s my story:
a Misbehaving System is what I call it.
You can call it what you wish.
Cells that should kill germs harm others instead, and what do they leave behind?
What do they take away?
Energy. Control. Ability. Freedom.
“It’s all in your head,” you say.
And I agree.
With scars in my head,
I sometimes wonder what’s left.
But then I hear an inner voice, one of assurance:
“Scars are not alone. When you look, you’ll find unexpected gifts:
The gift of Empathy to offer an ear to hear of invisible pain, filled with frustration and hard to see with the outer eye.
The gift of Peace beyond understanding, easier to feel when busy-ness is forced aside and stillness found.
The gift of Love you’ll feel as dear ones see through and beyond your scars, and the truest love, shown through one whose scars bring new life.”
More than Scars.
That’s what I call it.
You can call it what you wish.
songs still speaking beyond the years, beyond the scars
Eighteen years ago, life changed in more ways than I would have predicted. On July 30, I received a diagnosis for multiple sclerosis. On August 14, my heart was lightened as I attended an absolutely wonderful concert. Rich Mullins had been my very favorite musical artist for a while already – this was likely my fifteenth of his concerts. In fact, I wrote a review for an email list, as I was very touched by Rich’s words and music. But after August came September, and I received a phone call the evening of September 19 that caused my heart to drop.
My younger brother called to share news he had just heard on the radio: Rich Mullins had been in a car accident… and he had died almost immediately. His song “Elijah,” and my high school photo essay, flashed through my mind. As I leaned against a large oak tree in our back yard, a few silent tears trickled down as I stared into the clear, starry sky.
But this was eighteen years ago. Last year, a new piece of Rich’s legacy was shared in the form of an independent film, Ragamuffin. Like any story, Rich’s true tale was multifaceted, and the movie does share some of Rich’s scars that were not outwardly evident on this multi-talented musician, poet, speaker, writer. The lyrics of “Hold me, Jesus” ring even truer as we get a glimpse of Rich’s inner struggles.
and I wake up in the night and feel the dark
it’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart
so hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
won’t You be my Prince of Peace
Each of us does have “invisible issues” of some kind, and I’m thankful to Rich for being willing share some of his struggles, to admit of the “blisters on his heart.” And to remind us where true peace comes from.
As colds tend to linger, I’m still feeling far from good, but taking things even more slowly leaves even more room to recognize my many blessings! Such as what, you ask?
“Streaming” technology – When sickness keeps two folks at home on a Sunday morning (when they wish they could be in church!), I was extremely thankful that our local service was streamed digitally, and we could follow along with the fantastic message that Tom shared this morning. How nice!
Kleenex – I am so thankful that single-use, disposable tissues are readily available. Having to rewash hankies while dealing with colds would be a rather icky task, I think. I also recall making fun carnations out of fan-folded Kleenex of various colors when I was growing up… whatever the brand, disposable tissues have lots of uses, and I am indeed thankful for them!
Fuzzy socks – Even in the summer, toes can grow cool… I love being able to slip on a pair of fuzzy socks to reduce the chill for a few moments. The socks come off before long, but this particular pair makes me smile as I think of the friend who gave these to me as a birthday gift a couple of years ago. 🙂
Natural yard – Though our home isn’t exactly rural, it is such a joy to watch and hear signs of wildlife through our windows! We get to see birds, but other critters can be seen also.
Wellness – With my husband and I sick today, I am so thankful that this hasn’t passed on to our daughters! They begin school on Wednesday, so I pray it stays this way. (We’re doing what we can – handwashing can’t be overemphasized!)
I’m thankful for more than I can say… it will be hard to choose five final “thankful things” tomorrow. But what a special experience this 30-day journey has been!
I mentioned on Friday how I wouldn’t be able to post again until Monday, and I said I’d explain. So here we go. On Saturday morning, I was able to travel to Indianapolis, where I spent the rest of the weekend with T.R. and the girls at Gen Con! The time was very full, not to mention tiring, but it was lovely in its own very special ways.
5 things I’m thankful for about Gen Con
It is in Indianapolis! – This convention, which people travel to from around the world, is a 90 minute drive from our home. When we were first married, T.R. spoke of wishing he could attend Gen Con, but then it was in Geneva, Wisconsin, so this just wasn’t going to work. Twelve years ago, it was moved in Indianapolis, and T.R. was first able to attend (and be a part of a booth) four years ago.
Family event – With a family of self-proclaimed “geeks” (and proud of it!) , this was a lovely way to make special summer memories.
Neat worship together – Sunday morning’s Christian worship service started with nice music led by somebody I’m sure we’d not have seen on the stage at our church (not with that hair piece, anyhow, but she did a lovely job of leading, with the acoustic guitarist beside her). How great to join with few hundred brothers and sisters from different places and various walks of life.
Great message – “Here there be dragons” – using Ephesians 6:10-20, the “Geek Preacher” shared the importance of the “armor of God,” particularly peace and truth, grasping our shield of faith.
Special experience for T.R. – He did a wonderful job organizing and running the booth for Modiphius Entertainment – you can see great photos of his experience on his blog, Freelance Knight. You can see why I am so proud of him!