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Category Archives: hope

Will It Blend? Affirmative.

Back in November Bob and I agreed that we neither needed nor wanted anything by way of  Christmas gifts. We share a common lack of interest in material “stuff” and a clear sense that God  has blessed us with every truly important thing already.  More is generally not better, usually it’s just more. So it was settled. The simple joys would reign–time with family,  gratitude, sharing our blessings.  Agreed. Ix-nay on the esents-pray.

On  Christmas morning when the grand-kids had opened everything in sight, one very large package remained untouched behind the couch. (I know what you’re thinking. No, it wasn’t a  Red Ryder BB gun.) Bob pushed it toward me with a half-sheepish, half-excited grin on his face.  It was a Blendtec–you know, one of those multi-function-super-blenders that doubles as a cement-mixer. Yep.  Bob had wandered into COSTCO the day before, looking for athletic socks. He wandered out with two pizzas and a Blendtec, socks forgotten as visions of smoothies danced in his  head.

Can I tell you, I dig the Blendtec? Best toy I’ve had in years. Every day we pull fruits and veggies out of the fridge or freezer and concoct some amazing smoothie creation.  So far I have successfully suppressed my almost-daily urges to toss some oddment or other into it. I go into Ralphie-esque trances envisioning Dad’s crescent wrenches or half a dozen pairs of reading glasses or my entire ring of keys (clicker included) or the In-N-Out sandals from the laundry room shoe shelf whirling around with a mighty racket in our ferocious new machine. It probably wasn’t a great idea to watch so many “Will It Blend?” clips on YouTube.

I resist those more interesting urges in favor of bananas and strawberries and mangoes and such. Ya gotta love technology. I mean–I make my breakfast in a kitchen appliance that probably has more torque than my mini-van. The novelty has yet to wear off. Will it blend?

Anyway, I’m pulling out of a pretty rough patch with my Parkinson’s these past few months and I’ve been thinking about life.  I have come to the conclusion that, yes, it will blend. The love of God, the perfect atoning grace of Jesus Christ can handle anything that life throws at us. Sometimes, I confess, I look at a particular challenge or detail that gets tossed into the mix of mortality and I think, “No way. No can do. I didn’t order that. Where’s the milk and the honey? My jar is full. No more ingredients, please, especially not those ones.” Hard, rough-edged scraps of white-hot metal whirl around with thorns and nails and small, sharp bits of gravel from my shoes. And tears. Then atoning blood. And just when I fear that the noise and the grinding will overcome me, the shiny rotor-blades stop and I see that everything–the whole jar full–has become smooth and strong and somehow beautiful.  I take the cup in trembling hands, oddly grateful that it did not entirely pass from me. Holding it willingly, I notice that only a few drops sit in the bottom. Someone else has already taken the rest. All of it that was bitter or toxic or scalding has been swallowed up in His perfect love. What remains is clear and cool and slightly sweet and the taste of it on my tongue changes my face forever.
Blender philosophizing? That’s a first. But God is  good. His infinite mercy gets me through life’s rough, inexplicable, heart-rending challenges and gives me hope and power to rejoice. “The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” (Isaiah 40:4) In other words: It will blend.

On Lilies and Life

The Calla lilies look almost too perfect to be real. They spring up every March and April along the fence in our side yard. Planted by someone whose name I do not know, they thrive in spite of my neglect. I neither water them nor tend them. My dog pays them a little more attention. He methodically tramples them under his big goofy paws in the hottest part of summer. Then he flops down on top of their cool green leaves and sleeps all day in the shade.  Certain that they can’t possibly rebound from such abuse, I watch the fence line dubiously year after year. And the lilies bounce back greener, denser, more vibrant every Spring. It defies reason, but there they are, rioting and gorgeous. They make me happy. 

Tomorrow is Easter, the culmination of another Holy Week, and I can’t stop thinking of the lilies. They remind me of life and of the Life.  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” (John 11:25) And I recognize the miracle of life that springs up again and again in my soul. When I feel thirsty or trampled down or doubtful, He pours out living water or takes my hand and raises me up or whispers hope. And I bounce back year after year, greener and more vibrant. 

Tomorrow I will sit in church and sing–hymns of wounded hands and an empty tomb and that bright morning that followed darkest night. In my mind I will picture the stone rolled away and the linens carefully folded long ago in far away Jerusalem. But mostly I will picture the lilies blooming in my own backyard–reminding me of life everlasting and eternity that begins today. Here. Now. Again.

>Waking Up

>They say you are only as old as you feel. That puts me at right about ninety-two years this week. I dozed off at the table on Monday night, even though we had seventeen people over for dinner. Yesterday I found myself waking up at my keyboard, in the middle of a sentence that petered out in a long string of “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’s” from where my finger landed when drowsiness overtook me. Lately if I sit down for long, I’m out cold. Bob never knows whether to wake me up when he finds me conked out in an unconventional nap-spot or to just let me sleep. A friend jokingly compared me to Mr. Bean’s narcoleptic character in the movie Rat Race. It does seem comical, especially since I know that the sleepy stupor will end as soon as my body adjusts to its new dose of Mirapex. I had to bump up the dosage on my Parkinson’s medication this week. I’m trying not to look at it as a defeat. I’m trying to wake up.

There are good days and better days with Parkinson’s. Some days I almost forget that I have Parkinson’s at all. Life rolls on and I have learned how to compensate somewhat for my stiff, listless left side. Amazing how quickly I caught on to all the little tricks that make my symptoms less conspicuous: keep a tremoring hand firmly jammed in a pocket; encourage a dragging left foot with a mental “march” step; always pick up a breakable item with the right hand; don’t hurry; buy slip-on shoes and clothing with no buttons; don’t dwell on limitations; consistently override my body’s protests and take on physically challenging activities. Sometimes, on the better days, I can almost forget.

But other times I find myself face-to-face and toe-to-toe with my disease. We square off and stare one another down. She is silent, deliberate, confident of long-term triumph. I try not to blink first or avert my eyes. If I stand my ground and study her without fear I see that she is as beautiful as she is terrible. “This is not personal,” she tells me without words. “It must seem that I have come to rob you slowly of life.” She smiles. “And I will take what I will take, it’s true. But look what I bring in exchange.” The gifts she offers flash and burn in the air around us. Patience. Trust in God. Hope as hard as iron. Empathy. Wisdom. “You can have these in time. Wake up.Walk with me. Come.” There is nothing for me but to take her outstretched hand and move forward—wiping the drool off the corner of my mouth and dragging my left foot as I go.

People comment occasionally that I’m “fighting” Parkinson’s admirably. Here’s a secret—I’m not fighting Parkinson’s at all. It is what it is, and it’s not going away. What’s to fight? Besides, I refuse to take an adversarial stance with my own body or kick and fuss and dig in my heels all the way down the path that is mine. No, I prefer to walk, to dance, to hike, to skip, to crawl if it comes to that, as best I can on this remarkable journey. My body may feel lethargic, but I want my soul to stay fully awake. If I feel today like I’m ninety-two years old, I can deal with that. Forty-seven will feel so young and sprightly when the Mirapex haze wears off next week. In the meantime, if you find me snoozing in odd places feel free to snap me out of it. And if you ever hear me complain, remind me to open my eyes. Wake me up. Always wake me up.

>Life is deluxe

>Our daughter Julie spent her toddler days with us in married student housing at the university where my husband was attending law school. Nothing enthralled her more than flushing random objects down the toilet. Almost daily I would hear the “whoosh” and run to the bathroom to find Julie standing next to the bowl. Hands folded across her belly in satisfaction, she would watch as a washcloth or small toy circled slowly out of sight. Pencils, a flashlight, the utility bill, Christmas ornaments, nightlights. Whatever Julie laid her busy, dimpled hands on eventually made its way down that wondrous waterslide. And then, inevitably, things backed up.

So, I called University Housing maintenance–a lot. I had the number memorized and the plumbing guy knew me by name. The routine never varied. Dale would arrive in his blue truck and head straight for the bathroom. He could generally snake his magic tool down the toilet and extract the soggy item in minutes. Now and then, the snake did not suffice. Mighty Dale would unbolt the toilet from the floor and carry it out the front door. Tipping it upside down he jiggled until something rolled out. One day he picked up a rubber ducky that had tumbled from the commode and put it in my hand. “Life is deluxe!” he muttered crustily as he heaved the potty back into the house. It made me chuckle to hear that choice bit of acerbity from the mouth of a man cradling a privy in his arms. “Life is deluxe,” I repeated like an ‘Amen.’

For some months I found Dale’s words springing to mind in ironic situations or when things went sour. “Life is deluxe,” I would grumble to myself with more aggravation than I actually felt. Over time, however, I noticed that Dale’s quirky phrase had shifted in my lexicon. Sarcasm didn’t suit. My soul knew better. Life IS deluxe. Truly. Capital ‘D’ deluxe. Delicious. Glorious. Splendid. Ravishing. Deluxe.

Calla lilies spring up along my fence every March. Complete strangers stop in the snow to help me to my feet after a slip. Cool water makes never-ending music over smooth rocks. The slender apple tree that Bob planted in our yard bends and barely supports the fist-sized fruit that hangs from its branches. Acne abates. Sweet juice drips down my chin from a crimson-hearted strawberry. Our children pile into our bed on Saturday mornings and make us laugh until our stomachs hurt. Julie gives birth. Baby Lydia curls her padded palm around my finger and smiles as if she holds heaven in her hand. My dad opens his clear hazel eyes one last time. Expending all that’s left of life in him, he locks Mom in his gaze and mouths the words “I love you” before he slips away. I lie on my back and cry round real tears that roll into my ears and wash me clean. Deluxe indeed.

I believe tenaciously in the goodness of life. Daily I marvel at the exquisite complexity of our human experience–the profound, painful, delirious, heartbreaking, exhausting, exhilarating adventure we share. People move me. Moments change me. What surprise will drift to me on the back of a breeze? When I step over the edge into a free-fall, what updraft will lift me and gently bear my weight? What blows my way today on winds unexpected?

Copyright 2010 Jerie Jacobs