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October and a Messenger

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October is always a favorite month.

It is especially a favorite month to get outside.

I love the start of this glorious season, where we peel back layers as we prepare for holidays and hunkering down.

The crisp mornings followed by warm afternoons.

Backdrops of emerald greens changing to warm hues of browns and golds as trees float to the ground creating slippery paths of a gathering of deciduous leaves.

Though with life lately, I find myself unable to embrace the start to this autumn season that I love so much. I wonder how did I get here, again…another season flying by as we handle big things.

I think time has stood still, maybe I have gotten lost in time, or really time is just flying by. I would not know the month or season I find myself if not for the morning chill seeping in my windows and the honking geese (in their V-formation) waking me from my slumber.

The start of this month feels more like a heavy fog descending on a busy morning commute with limited visibility rather than a fall filled with pumpkin spice and everything nice.

I am in a season of waiting once again, holding many words, having few to share, not knowing what to share, wondering what is next, choosing first things first.

It’s feels very much like how life was flipped on its head last summer and the unknown challenges that engulfed our life while trying to find rest, recover and heal from surgery during our favorite season.

And then there was autumn last year. That was six weeks of the clever and courageous journey of completing a chemo and radiation protocol to fight aggressive brain cancer while the world was still under restrictions and in a state of confusion.

As it was all unfolding, I would pray, “Dear God, please just get me through,” the daunting six weeks of daily drives to the city and the looming diagnosis.

He (A Good and Faithful Father) answers prayers by His grace and mercy, and those days became a daily date and a liturgy for marriage while serving the one you love. A friend recently told me this is Theology of the Body.

Yesterday (as I write this), October 5, I was reminded that we completed that part of our fight a whole year ago. We DID get through those 6 weeks (Clever and Courageous Journey) and several other big things during the spring and summer. We CAN and DO get through these things.

Last week and our world flipped on its head once again just as the calendar flipped to October One.

More than ever, I am convinced we can only measure the passage of time One Day at a Time perhaps one moment at a time.

Last Monday night, Jon and I squeezed in a walk as we prepared our hearts and minds for another surgery the next day.

We had some work to do that night as Jon was bowing down on one knee to finish a house project he desperately wanted to complete. And I was bowing down on two knees at the altar to beg God to carry us through, to give us courage and strength, and to keep Jon whole and to keep him safe.

We would prepare for another surgery, each in our own way. He was caring for me by keeping our world in order at home. I was caring for him by bringing our family prayers to the Lord.

But our walk together needed to come first.

Our walks, our sacred time, ALWAYS come first, like our time with God.

So we laced up our shoes and got outside.

We prayed.

We climbed hills.

We spoke of crossing bridges when we came to them.

We inhaled the crisp autumn afternoon breeze on our faces as the sun warmed our necks.

We crossed paths with a Blue Heron. I pondered and prayed why this creature, why here and now. We stopped and gazed in awe as it stood on its one leg.

They are creatures known for patience in waiting and strength while standing on one leg. I find it interesting that this is the beautiful creature of all of God’s creation that we encountered that day. I wonder if this bird was standing on our path as a messenger from God for Jon and me. Oh, the metaphors the Blue Heron represents.

Seeing truth, beauty, and good in these moments can always point us back to God, the creator of all things—it’s the evangelical beauty of God.

In his article Finding God in All Things, Bishop Baron offers this: “Rather, as Thomas Aquinas taught, God is in all things, “by essence, presence, and power.” And mind you, since God is endowed with intellect, will, and freedom, he is never dumbly present, but always personally and intentionally present, offering something of himself to us. Therefore, the search for God can commence right here, right now, with whatever is at hand.”

I have been pondering the beauty and strength of the Blue Heron for the last few days, NOT as a spirit animal but as a beautiful creation of God. Both Aquinas and Baron’s words above can express how God speaks to us using the beauty we encounter even while taking a walk.

Patience, strength, determination, and standing on one leg would be our days to come. We just didn’t know it yet. God did. Hindsight is 20/20 for us. Thinking about the Blue Heron, I am realizing what a messenger it was for us.

Last Tuesday, Jon had surgery once again. The surgery went as planned, the complications not so much.

Jon has some challenges ahead as he heals and restores one leg at a time. We are patiently watching him heal and discover new pathways.

I am finding strength knowing God is carrying me. I think of the Footprints in the Sand poem.

Jon’s heart, his determination, his cheerful disposition never cease to amaze me.

We have already seen great strides and improvement. In Jon’s ever-present positive attitude, he whispers, “I already see progress.”

I praise and smile as I sit by his side, cheering for him in this process with my joyful but weary voice—so much progress in a few short days.

I love many things about this man I married 24 years ago; what I love most about him is how he laughs at himself and smiles at me even as he works hard to achieve many things.

He’s determined. The kids and I are are by his side either in person or in spirit. And we know so many others are too. Jon is loved so very much.

Jon hugged his two big kids at the hospital by the kindness of people who knew seeing those kids matters in his healing. I was grateful that the staff did what they could to allow the kids to see him when necessary after the surgery. True healing comes with relationships and humanity, and the dignity of a person being honored.

Since the surgery, he has hugged each of the kids, showed enthusiasm for the work ahead, and maybe even played a never-ending game of UNO with the younger girls and me. My big kids have trekked back and forth across the state once again. I think God knew, long before we did, their being together would be a balm for my soul AND theirs in this challenging time.

Another balm for my soul was the timing and God’s providence on two things. First how our drive-in for the surgery was constantly changing, but as we drove to the hospital we were able to pray a rosary with Sophia (and over 800+ others) as she was scheduled back in April to be a live guest our favorite Rosary Ministry Many Hail Marys. I know I am biased, but to see her joy and hear her speak of what she has overcome was just a gift for both Jon and me especially knowing what may be to come for Jon.

And the second was with the surgical timing constantly changing it could only be in God’s Providence that I had the most unexpected and perfectly chosen coffee/iced tea runner, lunchmate, time distractor, and hand-holder would arrive to be with me as I waited with a blazing migraine during surgery that was hours long. This person knows the tremendous (lifetime) gift they gave me.

Tonight, Jon and I talked about sharing this leg of our journey. I have done my best to honor Jon’s wishes when it comes to sharing our story protecting his dignity, respecting his privacy as well as that of my kids.

There are not many details to share except Jon is a fighter, a survivor, and never a complainer. He knows he has some work ahead of him and is determined to continue this fight with a smile and heart full of hope.

I am here to ask if you would pray for Jon, for my kids and their tender hearts and curious minds, and for me, his wife, his advocate, and caretaker to keep going. Perhaps someday, I will write more about being a caretaker and all that it is and means, how to truly support those you love who walk this journey. But that is not for now. For now, I will reserve my focus and energy on caring for what is best for Jon and his emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. And I will be doing the same for our kids as well.

Today, I come to you to ask for your prayers and meanwhile we will be up offering up our journey for you.

I’d be grateful if you would offer prayers of comfort, peace, rest, strength, healing, and restoration for the moments we find ourselves standing on one leg waiting patiently, just like that Blue Heron.

While you are praying, don’t forget to join our voices in raising an Alleluia to the mighty one because, as Jon said, “I’m here.”

There is grace in that response.

God is with us. He is ever close.

I know it. Jon knows it. My kids know it.

May you know this too.

Like I told my guy on our walk last Monday—and every day since last week—we can get through anything because we have each other and because of our Faith, Hope and Love.

Some will ask if my faith is shaken.

Hardly.

It has only been strengthened in the miracles I have seen on this journey.

My faith has been strengthened in small milestones, in the gift of many hearts we’ve encountered, and in how God is sustaining and delivering me.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?

The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

When evildoers come at me
to devour my flesh,
These my enemies and foes
themselves stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart does not fear;
Though war be waged against me,
even then do I trust.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
This I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble,

He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;
and set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high
above my enemies on every side!
I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and chant praise to the LORD
Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide your face from me;

do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me in.
LORD, show me your way;
lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.
Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;
malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
I believe I shall see the LORD’s goodness
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD, take courage;
be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!”-Psalm 27

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