Monday, May 28, 2012

From the Reverent to the Ridiculous

So where does one pick up after not blogging for 5 months? 
At the beginning of the story, I guess.  
Here are some highlights from along the way...

While hospitals themselves aren't all that glamorous, I will say that the chapel at Porter Hospital is mystifying, especially in the early morning hours when the sun is shining and you're all by yourself.   

Light.  Water.  Fruit.  Your basic elements of life.

What?  There's a piano, too?  With a hymnbook
This hospital thing is downright enjoyable!

(Enjoyable might be overstating things, but at least this squashed all thoughts 
of running out the back door and skipping the surgery altogether!)

Just kept remembering this.  
Just kept repeating this.
Just kept praying this.

How am I doing after have my EYEBALL removed?
Two thumbs up. 

(Read HOW they did this in my post, "One Moment in Time")

A familiar and comforting sight over the next month:  a friend sitting in a chair nearby helping with heaven knows what and offering laughter and support.  Stacie took the first evening shift.

Yeah, ouch.  Your scalp would feel the same way if 
it had just been flapped open for a skin graft.  Eek.

And the colorful patches begin. 
Mention a Pirate and I'll slap you silly.

So here I am resting at home - I'm tired and drugged from a considerable amount of pain and half-awake...yet I hear these familiar voices coming from my TV.  My choir concert from December was being aired on public television!  (As much as I couldn't stand being video-taped that night, hearing their little voices that day cheered my spirits for a bit.)

Day after day, kind people brought delicious food.
Covered in cheese.  God bless them.  And the cheese.

Not as edible, but certainly as delicious. 
So many little ones stopped by to say hello, too.
Abbey and John (and Nicola) came by to spread a little morning joy.

I've mentioned the cheese, right?

Let's just say this journey was NOT a walk in the park.

Cheese curds certainly helped.

Ooh, the tape on the face. OUCH.   Oh, the tape on the face hurt.  
And nothing like having your eyelids sewn together.
Go ahead. Shudder.

Better.  An avocado and cheese make all things better.
(as did the kind people that brought all these goodies)

Ok, we're going to try this 'going out in public' thing.
Take one guess where I went?  Amen.

And WHAM! too much, too soon. (are we surprised!?)
This tiny circle quelled the incredible dizziness and discomfort.
How fast one can fall.

Prayers across the pond:  RTG kindly lit a candle over in London 
for Cynthia and I, a dear soul and my Lenten devo partner.

This is getting old, and wearing on my spirit.


Three cheers for Skype and sweet little ones.

 And a big hooray for a new Kindle from Mom and Dad.
Technology can be a wonderful thing!

And bright bouquets of beauty.
Non-technology can be a wonderful thing, too.

Apparently, thumbs up is the international sign for 
"Really, I'm fine."  Not so much.

Pray on. Time to rest and reflect.
And darling drawings from little visitors. 
Ok.  Things might be starting to look up.

 Unconditional love:  the fact that these two looked and played
with me as if nothing had even happened kept my hope afloat.

And then there were umbrellas in worship!
Ruth Ann helped the kiddos understand different ways to take in
a little Sabbath time during RTG's 3-month sabbatical leave.

Bold Women's Day:  If wearing that stupid patch for as long as I did, isn't bold,  I don't know what is.  Lots of great celebrations of Bold Christian women in history.

 If you can't beat 'em...Spirit Day at school.

Emma Bean and I heading over to "Peter and the Wolf",
which totally captured her musical attention.
I see lots of concerts in our future!

February 20, 2012:   It's one thing to have improvements made on a glass eye, but after a total eye removal and a month+ with that stupid patch, I just wasn't ready for the new eye in the new face. I was a wreck.  

Prayer has been a constant companion, as God's the only one who really knows what's going to happen next.  My friend Leslie (a current seminary student) and her senior church lady group over in Florida used prayer to bridge the miles on the day the new eye was being crafted.  Here's the blog entry and litany I kept with me throughout that long, long, long day:  

"A friend of mine had a rather intense day. I knew it was coming, and when I woke this morning, it was on my heart to write her a litany. Now anyone who knows me knows I have made a rather intense journey from my Pentecostal heritage to the more liturgical expressions of the Lutheranism to which I hope to be ordained. Liturgy has become my way of thinking when it comes to prayer. I think this is because I have become acutely aware of community in worship. This faith we live is very particularly ours, but it is by no means completely individual. 
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
So when I pray for another, my mind immediately turns to the community of faith. How can WE pray for one another? What are WE praying for when two or more of us gather in Christ's name before the throne of our Lord? And how do we approach the God who created the world AND loves to spend these quite moments with our feeble hearts?
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Litanies are a beautiful way to begin. They center us in our identity as children of God coming before a loving father with praise and adoration, with honesty and truth, with as much proclamation as we can muster when our hearts may be breaking or even if they are overflowing with joy.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen
Lord you are good.
When the days are joyous and the burdens light, we proclaim it.
Lord you are good.
In days of shadow and uncertainty we proclaim it.
Lord you are good.
When the road is bumpy and we trip and fall. 
When those around us have short-sighted commentary 
on the life we live as your beloved children, we still proclaim it.
Lord you are good.
When your will seems hidden but the days march on 
and we long to know your plan in detail, we proclaim in faith,
Lord you are good.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
Lord, your daughter Brenda stands before you today in the company of a great cloud of witnesses who testify to your goodness. Precious to you. Of interest to you. She daily proclaims with her life the grace you pour out on your creation.  Today we celebrate a step in a journey, the creation of a new eye.  
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Creative God we celebrate your gifts of medical healing and creativity that allow a day like today to take place at all! We commit to your hands the ocularists, technicians, artists, staff and patients that will make the day unique in Brenda’s life. We lift to you any worry or care on the hearts of all these dear folk today. They are yours. Guide their thoughts, words, hands that today might bring glory to your name in unexpected ways.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
We give you the family and friends who care about this day but are far away. Give them peace and comfort as they also commit their friend, sister, daughter, teacher, colleague…to you.
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And in the days ahead when the pain is still present but this new eye masks its presence to most, assure Brenda she is not alone. When folks just don’t get it, grant her the grace to gently remind them that journeys are rarely short and easy, but you sustain like no other. And when an honest rant is your gift to bring some healing, put in place the right listening ears to be a refuge for a few moments.  Lord you are indeed good.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
This and anything else your servant needs we commit to you this morning, from you comes our help.
In the precious name of Jesus we pray.  Amen."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Amen. Amen. Amen! ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From the reverent to the ridiculous...
Doesn't everyone have their very own eye on a stick?

God bless Ruth Ann - she was with me as the
new eye joined the family.  I wasn't exactly...stable.

exhausted . frustrated . amazed . pained . exasperated . blessed

Everything looks brighter in the morning.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

Not so sure I was initially in the best place for Lent this year.

The discipline of Lent: self-examination and repentance, 
prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love.

Out of the depths, indeed.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
Lent for who?  For everyone!
Small book study with good friends.

"There's NO business like CHURCH business..."
Church Talent Show, anyone?
Reverent...AND ridiculous!  We had FUN!

Me thinks my smile is beginning to return.

Sue Ann visiting RTG in France brought back some wonderful memories of singing in the upper chapel at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris with the UWEC Concert Choir.

So many MANY fruits of the Spirit.
Keeping up with RTG's online devotional, H2O Devos,
 was a joy and blessing during this particular season.

Ah, seasons.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every 
activity under the heavens.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

My dear hearts, Ruth Ann, Sue Ann, Stacie, Bruce, Andrea and Sarah all 
gathered at the Spronks home to bless the new eye.  Blessings!  All of them!

My cheerleaders, my prayer warriors, my faithful friends.   

How do you thank the angels that love and care for you?

Hmm..perhaps an angel is a good start!  Our mutual church friend, Delia, brings scrap pieces of metal to life, giving them personality and character. Delia crafted this one-eyed wonder to fly to the homes of my dear friends, as a celebration/thank you to all. 

Lent for Everyone strikes again...and Lynn Lacy is a most creative hostess!

Lent for whom?  That's right.  Everyone.  At my home this time.

Colorful sherbet in a bowl.  
Good people.  Great conversation.

RTG posted many amazing photos from his
sabbatical travels, but this particular picture just mesmerized me.   
Look at the wonder on the face of that child of God!

Taking some quiet time to study the Resurrection story
in each gospel at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp.

Lenten Retreat 2012:  A fire a St. Malo's and a water leak 
at Highlands Presbyterian brought us to RTLC this year.

Such coordinated pals, that Brenda and Sue Ann.

Remember that High Ropes Course that scared the heck out of
me a year ago? (read here)  Yeah.  Demolished by a wicked wind storm. 

My level of empathy greatly increased after hearing the Camp
Director Dave tell of how these losses affected him personally. 

God's creation.  I could sit and just ponder all day.

Pretty sure we shouldn't be looking at this side of the tree.
Root balls are SCARY.

Hiking time in the forest.
(Who knew an eye implant wouldn't do so well when 
hiking at a higher elevation?  Ah, the learning curves ahead.)

So much real laughter from that room.

My spirit needs more nights like that one.

A room full of Lutheran ladies.

Yeah for Art in the front row being a photographer!

Money Man strikes again.
See?  Choir dues CAN be fun!

GoodNESS.  Look at that little bean.

Finally feeling well enough for a kid climb - hiking up 
Castle Rock with Nicole and her daughters Emma and Madeline.

(Note to self:  climbing of any kind will make eye implant swell.  
Try not to do too much at one time, Brenda Lynn, ok?  Ok.)

Must. Stay. Hydrated.
Pink boots optional.

Remember Bill and Dar, our Minot, ND buddies? (read here)
We were reunited when they visited their daughter here in CO.

YEARS ago, my little Felicitas sang in my choir.
NOW, she's an intern in my classroom!  WOW!
What a blessing she was when I was on leave!

Holy Week at Bethany - reverencing the cross.

Saying goodbye to the 2011 pascal candle, and hello to
the new church year and the joy of Easter morning. 

A man and his meat:  celebrating Easter at the Cravens!

BBQ beauty!

There's my big bean.

And my little bean. 

You'll have to zoom in on this photo to see more details, but basically, it's the Wednesday evening congregation gathering in 'exile' out in the parking lot for worship.  Too cool.

What?  The new glass eye is actually too red?
What?  The new glass eye has a pupil that is coming apart?
What?  The whole thing will have to be re-made?
Yes, I'm thankful the implant/surgery part took.
Yes, I'm grateful that this is 'only' cosmetic.
That doesn't, however, make it any less fair that my face is still not complete.

Well, there you have it.  A message, direct from London.

My spirits continue to dive...but then soar.
How can they not with joy like this?

It's the small things.

Some of the younger, unwatched siblings of evening music students decided it would be fun to play with (break) our xylophones.  NOT a happy Ms. G.  Video-cameras are a lovely invention leading to irrefutable proof of who did what when.  Now, if only we could add Parenting Classes as a consequence, too.  Grr.

flutter. thwack. thud.
That's the kind of Spring this has been.

What?  You've canceled my appointment to fix the glass eye?
What?  I have to wait yet another month before you can fit me in?  GRR.

 No physical pain in the new eye implant - just a sad spirit
at another big ole disappointment and that this is
dragging out so much longer than I had hoped.

It's like leaping out of bed in the morning...only to forget you're
sleeping in the bottom bunk.  THWACK.  Down you go. 

Ok, little people like this certainly help.

Ok, she helps, too.

This wall helps, too.  I pinned all the kind words I've received over the last few months to the wall in my living room, and I've read them again and again.  Friends, family, people of Hope Reformed Church, co-workers, Regis folks, people of Bethany Lutheran Church, and the list goes on and on.
  So many people, so many thoughtful cards.

"Love and Peace Out" the angel flew to
another friend's home in late April. 

There's that Abbey girl.
Eater of Pancakes. Bringer of Joy. 

I was officially welcomed back into Girl Scouts!
One of the local Troops wanted to hear about
how music has influenced my life.  Where do I begin!?

me.horses.mountains.  Must repeat.

I think I promised Joni I wouldn't post this photo.

How else does one capture such an awesome picture?

Back to  Rainbow Trail for some sabbath time with kiddos!
Pretzel time with RTG!

Children are amazing.
She could write anything in the world down
on this pillowcase, and she chooses The Lord's Prayer.
Do check out this version of the "Are Father..." 

Singing and praising God.

Compiling all the photos from the weekend into a slideshow
for Sunday's gathering.  Edited 700+ photos down to 125 and a 4-minute song.


As if the fallen trees weren't sad enough, Rainbow Trail was also endangered by a wildfire.  This barren, fire-touched landscape was intimidating and holy at the same time.  The new growth of seedlings has already begun.  Hmm...there's a whole bunch of lessons in there.

Seriously.  Those root balls aren't any less scary two months later.

Some kid time so that the parents could find a little sabbath.

Oh yeah.  Singing with the little people.

SUPER MOON!  Couldn't have been in a better location
when this larger than life moon rose in the evening sky!

The SECOND I was back from Family Camp, I raced over to Flagstone to set up for our "American Pop Forever - 5 Decades of Rock'N'Roll" concert the next day.  Whew!

Money Man is now Poodle Skirt Wearing Money Woman!  Groovy!

Lots of great decorations sent from Sheboygan!
Thanks, Mom!  You saved me again!

Podcasts for each era. Lots of work, but hilarious when my
children realized Michael Jackson was indeed once a singing child

Emma's first elementary school concert!

John and Abbey came to sing and dance, too!

As did Sue Ann and Sarah.  Rock on!

I need to remember to be this chill

I'm learning the ukulele! I haven't had the joy of
discovery like this in a long, long time!  I need to upgrade
my uke...this one is about 2 steps above a toy!

One year later, Liam and Madigan's grave site now has a marker.
It stops me cold to think of how they were here one day and gone the next.
Lots of grieving and mourning and healing over the last year. 

The passing of time was also marked in my classroom - look at the twins I met in Kindergarten, now leaving me for middle school - two of the most thoughtful, kind children I've ever taught!

Look who is getting ready to walk!

  And what do we have here?
A glass eye.  With too much red.  And marks on the pupil.
It's being re-made this Wednesday (5/30).  Yes, re-made.

Pray I have the strength to go through this all over again.
Pray I have the courage to put on that stupid eye patch again.
Pray I remember to think of others with much more challenging plights.

In days of shadow and uncertainty we proclaim it.
Lord you are good.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
When the road is bumpy and we trip and fall. 
When those around us have short-sighted commentary 
on the life we live as your beloved children, we still proclaim it.
Lord you are good.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -
When your will seems hidden but the days march on 
and we long to know your plan in detail, we proclaim in faith,
Lord you are good.
-          -          -          -          -          -          -          -          -


Anonymous said...

What a journey. May you feel God's presence calming you as you face these trials again. We Lamberts are praying that this time the professionals get everything right for you----and that your healing will be complete. In His Name, Trina & Sherman Lambert

susan said...

Brenda- You are in my thoughts and prayers. I really enjoyed reading about your journey and seeing your awesome photographs along the way. God Bless You!!

susan said...

Brenda- Thank you for sharing your journey. You are an amazing woman! You are in my thoughts and prayers. Much love and peace to you! Susan