Moses and I

The looking glass iiii

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What really does not define me is the fact that I am going blind or that I carry a big stick.

Some days it seems my lack of vision creeps into every aspect and I am more aware than ever that the eyes are failing me. Other days, I am able to do all that I physically want to, like garden, clean, eat, go for a walk and crochet. Then there are those days. Ones where the clouds creep in. Just like the distant thunder of a rain storm that rolls ever closer, the peripheral world becomes darker and darker until for some very odd reason there is a book shelf in front of me instead of an open doorway. Like for instance this morning, when the rainy seven a.m. lighting did not allow me enough light to see my dear baby granddaughter’s wide open-eyed greeting.

About ten years ago, my vision became a markedly difficult issue as I attempted to care for my family and my pets. We began coming up with pathway lighting, rope lights and other deck lighting to help me out at night. I had a number of attempts to train a helper dog for myself.

our little collie back then was no help at finding the newborn lambs in the darkest corners of the barn The shepherd lifestyle was ended with it’s dangerous night life. I gave up teaching squirrels, I mean children- they move too quickly. The choir pianist in me retired to memory lane. So many goodbyes.

I knew that I needed some independence since there weren’t many people other than immediate family who could really guide me, so I got my first walking stick. Or mobility cane.

A mobility cane is not the same as a walking cane. It is not meant for heavy weight bearing. Instead it is more like a really long finger that acts like a braile reader for the path ahead. I have watched many videos of people navigating busy crowded sidewalks. Their ability to walk in New York City amazes me. I’m just trying not to face plant from a curb. The signs others see as helpful on the sidewalk edges have often found the center of my face. Rather than giving me any warning, they are not friends of mine!

While the white cane affords me some independence at times using my husband or daughter to lead me around like a little child is easier. However there are a few stories that the cane has etched into my memory along with a few times it should really have been at my assistance that turned out funny. Here goes.

Once I began using the white cane at church to assist in my go-betweens. Often there was a young child asking me, “What’s that?” When the child persists in a rude or beyond curious fashion (skeptical and disbelieving that i am blind) I respond with “it’s a big stick so that if you try to run away I can trip you.” If there is still focus on the stick instead of our relationship or face to face contact, I tell them it’s a weapon like the lightsaber! Children without proper respect can be quite frustrating. Dealing with the constant badgering was one of the reasons I quit teaching kids club.

In all actually It really has nearly tripped children. Especially in the mall when they are running away from parents. Of course I feel bad, but most of the time I was thanked for slowing the toddler down. One time at the mall I was using one of my lightweight expanding mobility canes and tripped my own companion. It was my younger daughter and needless to say, the stick broke. From then on I only use “indestructible” white canes.

So for the story of not having the aide. My little four year niece and I were walking behind her family through the mall. When walking with a group it is common for those in more of a hurried path to their end, to cross the path right in front of me. After this happened on several occasion without my niece and I slowing for the “running retriever” my brother just grabbed my loose hand and kept us on target. People at the mall can be really rude when it comes to separating larger group walkers. Oh, well, there are a lot more people with tunneled vision than you might think.

Shopping and holding a walking cane is not easy. I have become so accustomed to being “lost” in the shopping environment that for the most part I just stand still like an old fashioned mannequin that is out of place. If anyone runs into me, it’s because they didn’t see me. I am slower than a sloth in the department stores.

On occasion I get brave or really have to go to the bathroom. So I pull out the cane and march away from my person. The day that I named my mobility cane Moses is very memorable to me. We were at Wally-world and I needed to return to the auto section where Gavin was getting some oil or air filter for the vehicle. On the way back to him, I noticed how the people just seemed to slide off to the side as I tapped my way back to that area of the store. It seemed as if the stick were parting the water, or the Red Sea had congealed right up. I tried to smile at some but they seemed to gather that I smirked to myself and could not see them. They just looked away. I felt like Moses had parted the waters and the path was cleared to walk on dry ground. There were no stumbling blocks. No person stood before me in my way. They all moved out of my path.

I began to think about the phenomenon of the Red Sea. And other happenings like that. Then I remembered some of my nightmares. Like falling over logs, chairs, stones, or other blockages and music stands or instrument cases scattered all about the floor and there is no way I can cross the gym floor with all those moving basketball players. I duck my head and wince and flinch but still the balls hit me in the face and head constantly. What a challenge. Sometimes this dream comes and I actually cry out loud.

Exodus is one of my favorite Old Testament books. The first few chapters of Moses’ story are so compelling to me. Listening to them over and over does not bother me at all. It’s kind of like watching a favorite video for me. One time I heard a sermon on Exodus 4:2 “What is that in your hand?” (This was before cell phones were a fixture.) The point of the sermon is that God uses us right where we are at and with what we have at hand. Whatever you find most frequently in your hand is what God wants to use for His purposes and His glory.

So while I know that Moses had a personal aid named Joshua; Exodus 24:13 tells about Moses’ return trip to the mountain for a second set of tablets for the Lord God to write on. This time he took his young helper with him. So while I may have it backwards and should call my aid Joshua, we have far to many of them in our family already. Then I began thinking of Joshua and his journey after Moses left. While Moses was no longer with him to help in the journey to the promised land, God was. He promised never to leave Joshua or forsake him.

There are times I forget my mobility cane. There are times I wish I had brought it with. There are also times it becomes a burden and I can’t carry all those tings. I will always need an aide. I can no longer go anywhere by myself, unless I walk. Living in the country has brought me to a very vulnerable and often lonely place. While people may forsake me, my guide dog might trip me or break my nose, the Lord is always near.

That might not be very consoling when I turn around to walk out of my library and run into the bookshelf instead of the doorway. But using my mobility cane in my own home is not something I want to do. If the traffic in our house picks up too much, like during the supper hour, I prefer to get planted. It’s just easier than running into the cross traffic and causing accidents like spills and burns.

So Moses and I are becoming quite the companions. I have used this aide mostly in congregational settings. Using it on hikes and park walks is also advantageous to the limbs and face. While I am waiting for Honey to shape up and start helping more, I will continue to use Moses. And don’t judge me for making Moses white instead or black or some other skin tone. Most seeing guide mobility canes are white. Okay I do have a yellow one, but i have not used it much. It’s usually just the handles that become a fashion statement! All I care is that it tells me where the step is so that i don’t fall up or down.

“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.””

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

On hold

When life hands you a pause button

“Stop the world, I want to get off!”

Well, okay maybe it’s more like “stop the bus, I wanna get back on.”  But right now the reality is that no one knows the spirit of a mans own troubles except that man himself. Perhaps God is the only one who will ever understand the depth of another’s soul. 

When I collapsed in a heap on the floor after finding the puppy gate, there was no doubt something was broken. Inability to move is very suffocating. When the chiropractor invited my husband to peek at the X-ray and left me sitting, it was as if someone handed me a pause button. 

Not really. The pause button in life comes in many forms. A father with a broken hip? A company moving locations, a loved one with cancer, and the loss of a dream. The pause button happens for the most unassuming. Others seem to go right on with life. Children continue to grow up. Traffic still flows on the interstate. The news on the radio resumes it’s unbelievable coverage of protests and crazy people. 

The disasters continue to happen amd yet the defiant spirits rage on against the sovereign will of God. They attempt to erase history or pillage flood damaged neighborhoods. How do we take that pause button and sit for six weeks while bones heal?  The pause button of pain that includes three years of chemotherapy. Or perhaps it’s not really a pause button at all. 

And in the middle of ones break from normal daily activities, someone asks a question from their own fast moving train and the pause button gets accidently placed on fast forward. The mind cannot find a response. As if I am put on hold with the whole world on the other end of the receiver going about life with no clue the “hold-button” has been set in my life. 

I have been recovering from a fractured rib and a bruised rib. The pain at times drive me to the pain management box. At times it asked me to just do nothing. All my life I have been a doer. I have never sat amd watched television without something in my hands.  Crochet has been my do nothing. When the bruised muscles on my right side required me to sit and rest, leaving my crochet baskets on the opposite side of the room became the only option. 

Watching television wasn’t something I grew up doing. We were a family of readers. My father read, books, newspapers, field and stream magazines. My mother sewed and generally kept our home spotless. My sisters and I all learned piano, worked at odd jobs, did homework, and babysat the neighborhood children. Never mind that those children’s parents were either at work, at the bar or at the volunteer fire meeting-which in our small town was at the bar. 

There were occasional TV watching. We would go to a neighbors house and watch a required tv show for school. We also watched the classics at the holidays. Sound of music-anyone!  So when my phone has the worlds favorite movie app uploaded, I had the constant choice of watching my pause button.  

Pause to take out the dog. Pause to answer a text message. Pause to answer the phone call. Pause to lunch, bathroom or go get the mail. Pause. 

The final reality hit me hard the other day. No matter what pause button is handed to us, we are never really allowed to fully rest. Our final resting place is not here. Though life gives us a prolonged Sabbath rest, or sabbatical the rest of the world around us will march on. 

The pause button can only be experienced by the one who receives it. There is no choice. The is no control over the plans that we make. We have the pause button only for it’s appointed time. Six weeks to heal the bones. Three months to enjoy the summer. Three years to visit with doctors and nurses. Two weeks to house sit a patent. Whatever time the pause button is handed to a person whether it is definrd or not that time will not be given back. There is no rewind in life. 

There is no rewind. There is play, there is fast forward. There is pause, and there is stop. A sure end for everyone. We all have the inevitable end. But there is no rewind.  

Yet while the world marches on seemingly oblivious God has taught me one lesson these weeks. 

“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

While I sit in this side of my own plans and to do lists, God is , God is doing, and God is here. Whether I can feel Him or not, I do have the choice to believe He is both able to heal and to help me through this time of waiting. 

Turn around

When all else fails… 

With the recent addition of a new puppy to our home I thought i puppy-proofed the house quite well. Until she slipped through a tiny hole and found herself trapped in the living room. Well with no where else to go, surely finding some new toys in a basket was the right thing to do! Not so much. I spent two hours untangling yarn, and my husband three. Insert grumpy face.   Sure wish that I could–

read the manual!

When raising young toddlers I particularly remember shortly after my second daughter was born. The first one seemed to climb on everything. She was always on the counter or table when the time came to nurse the baby.  Later my mother told me the story of her sister putting the chairs upside down on the table so her third child could not climb on anything.  She did this so frequently apparently the neighbor thought she was always mopping the floor.  I remember thinking gravely, sure wish I would have–

—Asked my mother!

  • While the children were preschoolers we owned a fixer up house. One of the fixer-up projects was the roof. My husband thought that he could do the sweat equity himself.  Until after a few hours up on the two and a half story building! The tune changed when his stomach couldn’t handle the height anymore. Doesn’t help matters when cleaning the old shingles, one has to watch them slide and fall so far.  Needless to say we are glad that when it came to replacing the shingles we had the “cents” to —

–Hire it done!

In all the years of our house owning and the years of visits to relatives, my husband performed many repairs to the waterways in those houses.  From his daughters about  snaking toilets, to replacing washers on the kitchen faucet, it’s pretty great to have such a handyman husband. And the good part is that I think he’s handsome besides being handy.  However the Christmas morning we were at my mother’s and the sewage pipes decided to flood the sleeping quarters in the basement, we were very blessed to have the “presents” of mind to–

–Call the plumber!

What to do when you need a cup of sugar?  In the old days you would run next door and then have to take over a plate of cookies within a week to repay the favor. Today everyone just runs to the store. I think the borrowing idea was better.  Perhaps our lives would be richer if there were less convenient stores and when we needed another egg we would just–

Find a neighbor 

I live with a family that won’t even take a pain pill for a headache.  Not sure why they are so stubborn, but then I’m kind of a whimp at pain. They all have such a high pain tolerance. There are so many stories I could tell of pushing through the health issues without medical help.  My husband was one of those guys that wouldn’t go out for sports because he wasn’t  going in for the physical. I am glad to say that after years when I had to go to the doctor all the time for either my ITP or having children, he has finally gotten over his fears. Insurance requires the physical thing and after having had West Nile Virus twelve years ago he isn’t so afraid to–

–Go to the doctor!

Not many of us have this next luxury.  The children’s book about not getting out of bed is one of my favorites. Anyone who suffers from migraines can tell you that usually the only remedy for this one is to simply —

–Go back to bed!

Here’s another one that has lost its potency. Today’s world is full of GPS navigators. Everyone has developed so much fear of strangers, it’s like they might be an alligator or something. But we still tell people when they turn south onto Greenfield at the cemetery to look for the tall tree hanging over the road on the east side and that’s our place. I once had a relative drive right on by commenting to a co pilot about the tall tree before remembering my directions. I saw the tail lights turn red just past the acreage. They turned around and were pretty glad they had–

-asked for directions!

Last night I checked the weather before going to sleep. I do this so that I know how early to get up.  The outdoor chores are much too taxing if it is really hot. The alarm got set and rudely chirped it’s greeting at six something.  It was followed by a more pleasant good morning from my hubby-honey as he told me the radar readings and what he had already done with my puppy-Honey.  At approximately an hour later with a break in the rain, my puppy-in-training and I headed outdoors to do her thing. The sky seemed light enough for that under-eighty-degrees walk I had anticipated, so off we trotted.  However by the time we reached the mile marker south of the place the thunder begun to rumble again. Needless to say Honey was much stronger than I imagined as soon as a lightening cracked, she bolted for home.  We ran the rest of the “walk” and we were sure glad as we dashed into protection from the next downpour we felt the good sense to–

–Turn around!

In my life I  experienced friendship failures, body organ failures, memory lapses, mineral deficiency, my parents divorce, church splits, eyesight loss, and other trauma and tragedy. Life is full of last straw moments. People are human and they err often breaking our hearts.  Throughout these experiences I found one perfect love that never changes. Scripture says no one can know the height or depth or breadth or width of God’s true love for us. I am so glad that even in my human frustration at what failures God has gifted me with, His love through Christ Jesus remains pure and faultless. This is the string of hope God sews into my thread  of rope life experiences and reminds me  when all else fails–

Jesus never does!

The Raging Storm 

“The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.”‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The winter of 1997 hit hard. Beginning in thanksgiving of 96 snow began to pile up, literally. We had just moved into our fixer upper in Iowa and thank goodness the snow hid all of the awful mess out in the yard 

When January and February blew in with several snowstorms, my husband got the bright idea to just stay in town and work overtime in his machining job. Fine for him, a warm house, hours of busy, amd the truck ride to and from work was only blocks away. However the girls and I were soon learning about conservation. 

The old fashioned ways of quilts over windows, doors shut and rooms blocked off from the heat source was the three day blizzard experience. The children at two and almost four years old do not remember the fear. Just the fun. Slumber party-as we all huddled together on the living room sofa with the sleeping bags zipped together. We wore snow pants during the day as the wind seemed to blow right through the house. 

All that I really remember is the three package video movies, the howling wind, and checking the furnace and the temperature on the house constantly. I was so worried we would run out of fuel or electricity. We managed to stay warm until Gavin arrived home behind the snowplow. The furnace stopped five minutes into his arrival. Next it was time to plow a path for the propane truck.  We had never been price gouged so badly in our entire life.  I wish I could be the company, but memory fails me on that one. 

So on the days that the wind blows 20-25 mph gusts from the southeast, my mind plays tricks on me. I really hate that sound. If I could live in a concrete bunker and never feel the wind, that would make me happy. 

Storms that rage within while  the blue skies send cottonball clouds sailing to the east are never a weatherman’s forecast. There are scripture verses that tell us these battles with unseen forces are real.  

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I am not a fan of wrestling. I am neither interested in bygone battles and war hero books. Not a fan of books like the Harry Potter type. Not a fan of naval stories and not a fan of airplane crash survival stories. This verse therefore is not really one that prefers my focus. Rather a favorite amount children’s memory verses. Why should I even return to its words in this my alone-time?

Thinking about the “forces” that be on such a clear and beautify day, was not my plan. Fighting this mental emotional storm during my change of life was no choice of mine either. Knowing that there is more to this hurricane wind in my heart than flesh and blood reminds me that it takes more than muscle to fight the PTSD that wind sounds can cause.  It takes more than muscle to navigate the dark skies of the mind. 

More than muscle. 

Sometimes God’s mercy reaches right through our most bitter enemy and gives us a blessing. After my quiet time with these verses I felt a nudge to use my muscles and get that butterfly garden planted. While down at the greenhouse, a shadow fell across my path and there before me were the first of the sunflowers attempting to shade my greenhouse. My bitter enemy is the sun. For its rays are the bearers of the ultraviolet rays that damage my eyes. Yet this picture…  God is merciful. Of ten pictures with my eyes closed, one of them was perfect!

So as the storm rages on and my soul searches for which direction the wind might blow from next, I will look to Him who created the winds that drive our weather patterns. As the howling wolf-like wind threatens my mind, I will ask Him to send gentle cooling breezes. I will ask Him for spiritual muscles.  And I will paraphrase ‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to *Yvonne Annette: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

*italicized name is actually Zarubbabel. 

Oh Spirit of the Living God blow upon me. 

Inside outside

“therefore encourage one another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:18

Whether or not the weather cooperates is usually how outside gardens survive.  Farming and springtime become a constant weather watch in our neighborhood. There’s always the few who do things no matter what. But the seeds never lie. Frost that kills the cherry blossoms means one less pie. 

The other day I made it out to the gee-oh house just before the rain came pouring down.  “Guess I’ll be here for a little while or get soaked on the trek back to the shoe-box house.”  We spent the previous weekend re-sealing the joints and the polycarbonate glazing with more weather proof materials. So this week will be a test to see if we finally found the answer to the leakages.  Wind and rain, ice and water find their way through cracks of any size. Hopefully by the time we finish the outside–we’ll have an inside that is outside!

Finding therapy that works for our ailments can sometimes be more challenging than we expect. For some acupuncture helps.  Others turn to the essential oils.  Still others release, toxicity through sweating via sauna or excercise. I chose to go to my greenhouse. Sunshine provides me a tropical zone right in my own green field.

Suffering from pain and insomnia creates a cycle of physical pain that must have a checkpoint. I have full understanding that there are drugs-medicines that can aid my troubles.  A number of years ago though my husband decided to reward my once upon a time motherhood  nap time reading to my children by purchasing me an MP3 bible.  

When I was just nursing my firstborn child, my mother handed me a tiny Gideon New Testament. So I began reading to my children. When my second daughter arrived I had learned to balance my full scriptures award Bible from my own childhood on my arm and hand .  In that way I was able to read through the Bible and continue my own rapid reading schedule during her toddlerhood. It was during that timeframe that she claims I read through numbers and chronicle just to get her to fall asleep.  It was admittedly more successful than my later attempts to read Chronicles of Narnia for their bedtime story reading.  However, we all believe that Lennea’s abilities in remembering names might be gifted by God to her simply from these nursery days.  

My grandmother, the girls’ great-grandmother had a gifted memory also.  She could remember dates and birthdays like no one else! Although she did not pass this incredible memory on to me, her love for dried fruit has nevertheless been passed on.  Therefore when I studied the geodesic greenhouse and understood that I could host up to two tropical fruit trees in its space, I began begging for a fig tree.

Perhaps I wanted one so much because it’s delicate nature is one that I can really relate to. My temperature intolerance has led me speak out loud that I’m allergic to the cold.  It’s icy winds feel like knives slicing through my skin.  Because the anesthesia that they used on my first caesarian did not function as expected I can say with full clarity that I know what it feels like to have knives slice through my skin. It was traumatic. 

Recently we had a family meal with some extended family members.  During the meal my little nephew began his frequented mealtime temper tantrum.  Following this occasion we discussed the child’s feelings as “delicate.”  This reminded us of a classic psychologist’s movie Inside out  We recommend it for children and family’s who struggle with verbal expressions of feelings.  Learning to communicate at an early age one’s self-awareness is so important. 

It is in that spirit of self-preservation that I am sharing this with my readers. Sleepless nights are the trials of many that I know personally.  Whether turning to medicine, natural therapies, or prayer and Scrupture–know that this battle for sleep and adequate rest is not just yours alone.  Pain is part of this world we exist in and most likely will not  be conquered during this life. Finding hope in small things and in the bigger picture can help.  In the end it’s my faith in Christ and our eternal home that keeps me going.   

My crochet grandmother’s favorite book in the Bible was Thessalonians’s.  She had many verses underlined in the two part letter. This one after the description of  our future hope and home is one of my favorites.  Chapter four verse eighteen-

“Therefore encourage one another with these words.”