“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” -Lois Lowry, The Giver
Chris, Promise, and I just returned from a ten day vacation in southern CA. The re-connections and memories that were made while we were there were needed. It was a sweet ten days; a mixture of laughing, morning dance parties in our hotel room, local attractions, sailing, time with extended family, warmth, and new friendships. The sun did far more than heal my Wisconsin-induced Vitamin D deficiency.
During our time with Chris’ Uncle Brian and Aunt Janelle, I had the privilege of meeting Janelle’s “fab five”. A group of ladies joined by their love for Jesus and the way he’s working out his kingdom in their lives “beyond, beyond, and beyond” what they can imagine (as they like to tell me). Their names were familiar to me. Some I had met, some I had painted for, some I had rcvd emails from with encouragement that they were praying for me. I was thrilled to meet them all face-to-face, sit outside with my iced latte, and share more about how God is bringing hope into my suffering.
They were patient and gracious as I stumbled over memories from all that my body and heart have been through. They were engaged and shared pieces of their own suffering and redemption. Janelle took on the arduous task of entertaining Promise, so that I could talk uninterrupted, but would periodically interject her own memories, specifically from my last spine surgery.
Her memories were like little gifts that she was unwrapping and handing to me. Things that I could not have remembered because of narcotics and pain.
There’s something so healing about sharing memories with others. These memories may seem repetitive to the listeners who don’t understand their significance, but memories are important.
By the time I post this, it won’t be March 22nd anymore, but March 22nd is a day that floods me with memories. In addition to being the birthday of two of my closest friends, it marks 3 years since I had my 7th spine surgery… the surgery that was physically and emotionally brutal for me.
When I share my story with women, I like to say that it’s the day that they cut me in half. Dramatic? Maybe. But not far from the truth. They shortened me by an inch, removed my ribs, cut some of my most major nerves, put PIC lines in me, drains in me, screws in me, rods in me, and then three days later, asked me to try to stand up.
It was pain more severe than I’ve ever thought possible. Pain that drove me to my knees in tears of thanksgiving a month later as we remembered Jesus’ brutal beating and crucifixion on Good Friday and then resurrection 3 days later on Easter Sunday. How did he bare all of that pain? His spine was ripped into with shards of metal, glass, and bone. His human body was ravaged with pain and he did it all (without narcotics) for me.
It was the surgery that first broke my “mama’s heart” when Promise was too scared to even come near me. She was three. I was broken… mended back together by a back brace and supported by a wheelchair.
It was the surgery where the anesthesiologist gave me a “free eyebrow wax” while removing the tape that held my eyes shut during the 9 hour procedure.
It’s the surgery that showed me how much Chris loves me. It’s the surgery that taught me that I can’t shelter Promise from experiencing pain (and that that’s good!). It’s the day I lost the majority of feeling in my back (it now feels like a slab of rubber) but gained new motion in my left foot. It was the day that my Neurosurgeon breathed a sigh of relief that my spine had fused well, despite this only being the 8th surgery of this type done in the country. It’s the surgery that forced Chris and I to make a decision and believe with our whole hearts that God loves me more than I know and would allow the results that He knew were best. It’s the surgery that still, to this day, causes me much pain, but I am walking (and have found Andy Kerk at Body Mechanics to help with that:))
It’s the surgery that propelled me into facing my depression and seeking help. It taught me that God is fully capable of physical healing, but sometimes chooses not to (and that’s OK). It’s the surgery that confirmed that (at least for now) Promise would be our only child.
It’s the surgery that 3 years to this day, I don’t regret (yet have questioned) and am wildly thankful for (as backwards as that may seem).
Thank you for letting me share my memories with you.
Monthly Archives: March 2015
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
“But how far will they go among so many?”. Andrew asked a really good, and seemingly obvious, question. I’m sure I would’ve asked Jesus the same exact thing. I know that I catch myself asking God this in my own day-to-day life quite often. “But God, how far will my single prayer for the Christian’s being persecuted by ISIS really go?”, “But God, how far will us fostering just one child go in resolving the crisis of the hundreds of thousands of orphaned children around the world?”, “But God, how far will the donations from this one painting go towards ending the rampant movement of child slavery?”.
But God… But God… But God.
It’s hard for me to not ask these questions when I have constant exposure, through technology, to the evil that exists in this world. We have access to so much knowledge, and many times after reading CNN.com or the like, it’s knowledge that I wish I didn’t have. It’s like a heavy weight that pushes down on me and causes me to have a very hard time believing how my “smalls” could help to remedy all of these “bigs” in our world.
But God already knows how they are doing this, so my job is to trust and obey and offer my “small”, just as the disciples had to do.
Since my last post about Promise giving her $14 to Ruth (the little girl with Spina Bifida in Kenya), God has taken our “small” and turned it into an ever-growing “big”. It’s been incredibly humbling for our family to watch God do this. It’s been an awesome way to teach Promise, on her level, what obedience to the Holy Spirit can bring about. I’ll share just a few snippets of what has happened;
- The week following my blog entry, through a tangled web of social connections that I’m still trying to figure out, Promise and I received an invitation by some friends of ours to come to their house for dinner. Chris and Sue know one of the Sisters that is from Kenya and works with the orphanage that Ruth is at and they had invited her and a few others to dinner so that we could all meet. We all showed up on the Dummert’s doorstep, not knowing each other, but knowing God was working out something far bigger than we can imagine. Sister Lucy brought with her a friend who currently works at a respite care facility here in Milwaukee, but had spent extended time in Kenya, learning the language and culture and working with the poverty there. It was fascinating to talk with them, to hear about what life is like in Kenya, Nairobi, and this little orphanage 8 hours outside of Nairobi. Sister Lucy told me about Ruth and the time that she had met her two years ago; unable to walk but sitting on the ground, joyfully bouncing around with the rest of the children as they put on a performance. It was an amazing evening full of the most delicious chicken, warm laughter, sharing of stories, and imagining just a glimmer of what “could be” for this orphanage. Promise was able to physically hand Sr. Lucy her $14 and have a visual representation of where her money would be going. I’m so thankful to Erin for bringing me into this, Chris and Sue’s gracious hosting of this dinner (that had the potential to be very awkward, seeing as none of us knew each other), Kelly for making all of the social connections, and for Sr. Lucy and the rest of the sisters that serve tirelessly for the needs of these little lives at the Amukura Orphanage.
- This same week, I received a call from Chris’ Great Aunt Margene who is fortunate enough to live in sunny and WARM AZ (as I type, it’s sunny here in Milwaukee but snow covered and the wind is howling). She told me how this specific blog post was so moving to her that she printed it and shared it with her bible study group from church. She said they usually take up an offering at the end of each of these meetings, and after reading my post, they all felt moved to give that weeks offering of $65.00 to Promise’s wheelchair fund for Ruth. I am so thankful for those who are in the “retirement” stage of life that have committed to the fact that even though their earthly work may be done, their kingdom work is not, until the Lord calls them home. This group is such a beautiful reminder to me of that.
- At the end of February, we took a trip to MI to celebrate my nephew’s 1st birthday. While we were there, both of my nieces VERY generously donated money from their allowances and piggy banks, bringing Ruth’s wheelchair fund past $100!
- I was contacted by Promise’s former Pre-school, ECCEC (Elmbrook Church Child Enrichment Center), asking if they could partner with us during the week that they celebrate the young child (April 11th). After reading my blog post about Promise’s giving, one of Promise’s former teachers was moved to share it during their faculty devotion time. Collectively, the staff decided that they’d like to do something called “Pennies with Promise”, where each classroom will be able to bring in money all week that will go towards Ruth’s wheelchair and the orphanage, in addition to teaching the children about life in Africa. We are thrilled to be a part of this and pray that God uses it to show the children at ECCEC (and their families) the kingdom work that he is doing in this continent.
So as God continues to take our “small” and make it his “big” as only HE can do, will you partner with us and pray for Ruth, the children at Amukura, the Sister’s tirelessly serving there, and for other opportunities to raise funds for them? Here is a picture of precious Ruth:)
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
We estimate the cost of the wheelchair to be $650.00 and then $26.40/month for incontinence supplies for Ruth. If you’d like to contribute donations can be made out in check form to The Little Sister’s Angel Fund with “Ruth” or “Wheelchair” in the memo. A receipt and tax deduction form will be sent to you. The checks can be mailed toSr. Lucy Marindany4059 N 25th StMilwaukee, WI 53209-Adri