Monday, February 11, 2013

The Mother In Law...

She's 62 years young today! :)

I just looked at the clock and thought, "Hurry up, Brook!  You can't let February 10th go by without this post!"  So here I go...

What I'm about to ramble on won't be too well written...because I'm racing against my remaining 30 minutes, but it's from the heart, and with as much love as one daughter in law could have toward her "other" mom.
I've known Beth for 18 years this month.  Funny to think that's been almost half my life.  She deserves a dedicated blog post... and so much more.  

How would I have ever known, as I sat at the kitchen table of her little brick farmhouse telling the story of my first 19 years, that she was a woman who would have such a great impact on my faith...
One who I would spend many future years laughing and crying together with...
One who would teach me to beware of snakes hidden in mailboxes by little boys...
And of the value of a good yard sale...
And that back roads, although slower, are always a better choice than main roads...
One who would become one of my best friends?

For our church Valentine's dinner tonight, Beth was one of the game planners.  Her game, to no surprise, included shooting toy bow and a restaurant.  That's Beth.  At 62 years old, her mind is set on finding ways to have the most fun in the most adventurous manner.  

Three short months after we first met, Beth and I, along with our guys, were racing on fast as the horses would go...across the far stretching grasslands of northern Montana.  Hours later, we were gopher hunting from the back of an old pickup truck as it cruised across the wide open spaces.  Our 10 day trip brought us to rodeos, farms, homes of wonderful people we'd never met, small towns, mountains, lakes, and seemingly endless beauty under the Big Sky.  During that time, I realized that Keith was the son of one very cool woman.

On the second year of our Montana trip (1996), Beth had a broken leg.  Not wanting to miss out on the fun, she climbed in the back seat of that gigantic car with her leg in a cast, laid her crutches across the seat, and reloaded guns and laughed the whole way.  That's me...Annie Oakley... ready to shoot more gophers on the back of the car. 

As the years have passed, Beth's love of adventure, and her fearless and courageous spirit have remained the same.  I've seen her cliff jump into lakes with teenagers and ride some pretty wild horses.  Last year, she joined us for a ski day after not having skied for years.  I had a hard time keeping up with her on the first run down.  This past fall, she saddled up her horse and took a last-minute, 15 mile day ride in the Cascade Mountains with our family.  It's so easy to forget that this same woman qualifies for the discount on senior day. :)

She is a "yes" person.  If you ask Beth to give something a try, or invite her to join you in whatever it is you're doing, she doesn't look for an excuse why she can't; she finds a way to make it happen.

Yet more than a woman who is wild, fun, and crazy...Beth loves the Lord with all her heart.  She has a way of loving others and sharing her faith with them, so that even people who don't believe want to know more because of her.  Her smile and courage...her kindness and joy...they make you think, "Where does that come from and how can I get me some of that?"  When I first met her, she had a Post-It note stuck on her bathroom mirror that read: 

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." 
Psalm 51:10

That note was there for years.  I memorized it because of seeing it written there in her beautiful handwritingFor me, her house was a little glimpse of her I noticed early on that an open Bible was often within view.  It wasn't stacked on a shelf neatly, and ready to be taken down for Sunday at church.  It was part of everyday life.

One year, Beth wrote something to Keith in a birthday card about being thankful that God had chosen her to be his mom.  I will never forget that, because from that point on, I understood that God loved Keith even more than Beth did.  Which also meant - God loved my children even more than I did.  Knowing that has made my life easier.   

When we believe God's love for our precious kids is even greater than our love for them, it helps us relax and not worry ourselves to death over every little thing.

Beth is a mom of 2 boys, and I'm just sure God placed her directly in my path so that I would watch and learn much about raising my own boys. 

Have fun...
Be brave...
Teach them about God...
Love them with all your heart...
And let them go.

Keith and Beth on our wedding day - 1997
As a daughter-in-law, I've been less than deserving of the grace and patience that Beth has extended to me.  As the wife of her baby boy, I know she has stood quietly to the side and prayed for me while keeping opinions to herself.  As the mother of 3 of her grandsons, my parenting has been flawed, and once again, her  calmness, composure, and prayers have changed me far more than hasty words ever would have.

That brave, gracious, patient, kind, and always-in-prayer woman isn't me by nature.  But for the impact she has made on my life, I know I will be more that way because of her.  At least, I can aspire to be...

I am truly, truly blessed for the "other" mother that God has brought into my life. 

Happy Birthday, Beth!  Your life has changed my life and I'll always be thankful for you. :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Healthy Year

Tonight I sit at my desk caught up in thoughts of what our household looked like two years ago.  Two years have flown by, and at the same time, the events of that time period seem so far in the past it's almost like nothing really happened.  Two years ago tonight... Keith was recovering from sinus surgery, and after a couple of months of not feeling well, things were becoming distinctly strange.  A pretty rapid decline in his health began - and hours that turned into days were spent divided between him laying in bed and visiting doctors.  Two years ago tonight... I would never have guessed all that was to quickly come our way.

Following Keith's diagnosis with Wegener's and then Carson's diagnosis with cystinuria 4 months later, the better part of my 2011 year was spent keeping friends and family members updated on the not-so-healthy happenings of our family. 

For me, the first month or so of any given year is spent in reflection of the year past.  Even before I was aware of God working in my life, as a kid, I would sit at my desk many nights well into the following year...thinking back on all the cool & unexpected ways my life had changed.  Tonight, a full month into 2013, I continue to think back on 2012...and realize how different things were for us this past year.  I'd have to call it our Healthy Year.

I guess I would say it was a year of transition for Keith. He's handled the changes in his health as gracefully as I imagine anyone could.  Sometimes even I forget that he's not the same, physically, as he was before.  He has truly been the best ever example to the boys and I.  I see and read and hear of inspirational stories of people whose lives have taken a sudden and unexpected turn, and then realize my own husband is a living example of that same inspiration.

Keith took 3 trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last year, underwent hip replacement surgery in Seattle in April, and received a round of treatment for Wegener's in August and September.  A seemingly eventful medical year, but for him, it was a whole lot to be thankful for.  If you've asked him how he's doing, you've heard the same answer he always gives: "I'm great!"  And he means it.  He's not great because he's healthy; he's great because he knows he doesn't have reason to worry. 

"With God on our side like this, how can we lose?" Romans 8:31(MSG)

My very favorite paperwork of 2012 came in the mail just over a month ago...

The words "in complete remission" brought me to some of the happiest tears of my life. :)

Carson's latest appointment at Children's was in September.  It felt like an eternity as I sat watching the ultrasound tech save countless images of his kidneys.  With each new picture, the knot in my stomach got a bit tighter.  An hour later, the nephrologist walked into the exam room where Carson and I waited; she quickly announced that his kidneys looked great.  Instantly, that gut-wrenching knot was gone.  The prior 6 months in anticipation of that appointment were finally behind me. Such a relief.

As we drove out of the Children's parking lot, my eyes were spilling over with tears.  Carson sat in the back seat, unphased by the events of the morning.  I don't recall his exact words after the doctor announced the good news, but it was something like..."Oh cool! Can I have a sticker now?"  It was clear he hadn't wasted any time thinking about what the next ultrasound results would be.  When we prayed at night, I would ask God for his kidneys to be healthy, but admittedly, I would go on wondering.  He would ask God and leave it to God. I think that's where the phrase "faith like a child" comes in.

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.  Don't assume that you know it all.  Run to God!" Proverbs 3:5-7 (MSG)

If we could just easily do that...trusting that He is in control...believing that, no matter what, His plan is perfect in each and every circumstance.  Right?

Although scattered with negative health news, 2011 proved to us that trusting God was the only way.  He surrounded us with peace through everything.  He gave each of the five members of our family strength.  He showed us His shelter, and we can be sure He'll do it again down the road.  We learned that God's protection is ever present.  He doesn't drive away the storms in our lives; He is our shelter during them.

And 2012 turned into what I call our Healthy Year.  I reflect on it with more thanks than I ever knew possible.  Experiencing the loss of good health, and then seeing it's really hard to describe, except that it is received with overwhelming thanks.

Two years ago tonight... I would have never guessed all that was about to quickly come our way.  And isn't it amazing...I wouldn't want a day of it to be changed, because each of those days was designed by God, exactly as it happened.  2012 can only be known as our Healthy Year because of what came before it.