Monday, July 15, 2013

Adventures and memory-making

There are only two groups of people who get to have a private concert performed for them by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra: either you are super rich, or super pitiful and someone wants to do something special for your sick kid.  We fall into the second category, and this was one of those times it was good to live in a hospital!  As a total surprise to us, one of our cardiologists, Dr. Farrell, with the help and input of a few other lovely hospital staff, pulled some strings and got a group from the ISO to come to our floor, set up their equipment in the lounge, and perform a private concert just for our family.  Dr. Farrell called us a couple weeks ago and said she had a surprise for Friday morning at 10 and we "might want to invite our parents, too".  So we did.  And when we walked into the lounge that morning, there was a violin, a double bass, a keyboard, a saxophone and a clarinet, which was played by the conductor himself.  They gave each of my boys a real conducting wand (Caleb's new most valued treasure) and allowed the boys to actually "conduct" them while they played their songs.  The nurse had snagged Caleb's conductor stand and he and Jonah took turns conducting an actual orchestra.  It was amazing.  I was too awestruck and fully enjoying the moment to take any pictures, but my father-in-law videoed the whole thing.  Needless to say, it is something we will never forget!  Wow, how amazing to have doctors who care about us so much to do something like this for us!

The previous night had been July 4, and it had been a special day too.  Another wonderful staff member, our nurse Tanya, allowed us to take Caleb over to the top of a parking garage near here where he could see the downtown Indy fireworks.  It was about a 10 minute walk, with the pole and all his gear, but we put the boys in a wagon with some blankets and it was an adventure.  At about 9:00 we were getting ready to leave, and it was the strangest feeling; we were actually GOING somewhere.  With Caleb.  Out of the hospital.  I was packing blankets and getting their wagon ready and the boys were giddy with excitement, with Jonah giving Caleb a very thorough explanation of what fireworks were like.  We eventually made it to the roof of that parking garage and there were lots of people up there; a smattering of other patients and their nurses, some doctors, and lots of random families who apparently just choose to watch the fireworks from that location.  There was music playing and at one point the Lifeline helicopter landed and took off again right beside us all, and lots of children were clapping and cheering for the added excitement.  (Clearly the purpose of that helicopter was lost on them; they just loved the up-close experience!)  Caleb absolutely loved the whole thing.  I can't imagine how much he is going to enjoy discovering the world outside this hospital when the time comes.

This was the boys' response when I said, "Raise your hand if you're excited for the fireworks".  Caleb couldn't get his hand high enough.

We started out in chairs, but they couldn't sit still for long and eventually just stood right at the edge, looking out over the city, to get as close as they could.

This is one happy little boy!

It was just a sweet little taste of what it will be like to see Caleb get out into the world.  He has no idea what awaits him!  It gave me hope to see how much he enjoyed himself and immediately seemed comfortable outside his little hospital room.  He has talked constantly about fireworks since then, and I think it's mainly because he just loved going somewhere. 

Then this past weekend was a much-needed retreat.  Daniel and I took Jonah to Turkey Run State Park for Saturday and Sunday while my mom stayed with Caleb.  It's hard to get completely excited about a trip like this when Caleb can't go with us, but the effect that being outside in a beautiful park for 2 days was obvious on the rest of us.  We desperately needed fresh air and sunshine.  Fortunately for us, our boys are great little outdoorsmen and like to do the kind of stuff we like to do.  We hiked, swam, took a canoe trip, explored and just enjoyed the outdoors.  On our 5-mile canoe trip, Jonah sat in our canoe in the middle, and at one point we just picked up our oars and let the boat drift.  There was absolutely no noise but the water and birds and bugs.  There were no other people in sight and none of us even talked for a bit, we just enjoyed the quiet.  We all returned to the hospital refreshed and ready for another week.

Personally I have been spending more time praying and of course the effects are immediate when I have meaningful time with God.  I feel better, and stronger, and I feel His presence.  Daniel actually just started a month-long fast from computer and video games, which he is already noticing the effects of. We have been spending our evenings with no screens in our faces, and instead just talking or reading.  Good stuff.  Don't get me wrong, we think there is absolutely nothing wrong with unwinding sometimes with some internet or tv or whatever.  Those things just need to be in proper balance.  And we've found that without clear boundaries of how much time we're going to give for media, they too quickly crowd out much more important things.  And honestly, I NEVER find myself thinking, man, I really wish I had watched more tv or spent more time on facebook today.

We're praying for a peaceful week, for our family to have joy and fun together while we keep waiting for the time when the next part of our life begins!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wake up!

We have been busy and I'm tired today.  I've had to go home to New Castle 3 times in the last 4 days for various reasons and by this afternoon I was totally worn out and tired of missing Caleb for a little bit each day.  Tonight I put Caleb to bed and he really didn't want me to leave... and it wasn't one of those manipulative, 2-year-old things where he grins when I give in and read another book; he genuinely didn't want me to leave his room and cried for me to stay.  It broke my heart.  I absolutely hated the fact that I had to do what I do every night and get in a car and drive away from where my son is going to sleep.  Almost every night is totally fine; Caleb goes to bed very easily and then we leave to go back to the Ronald McDonald House to get Jonah to bed and eventually go to sleep ourselves.  (This is what is best for our whole family and what the hospital staff wholeheartedly encourage us to do.)  But for some reason tonight, probably because I've been away a lot the last few days, Caleb did not want me to leave.  He settled down fairly quickly once the nurse came in with some meds, but it has bothered me the rest of the night. 

I got back to the RMH where Daniel had just gotten Jonah to bed (this is our daily routine; we each take one kid for the last hour before bedtime) and I just wanted to read my Harry Potter book and forget about how miserable it makes me to think about my family not sleeping under the same roof for the last 8 months.  I proceeded to piddle around on the computer for the next 2 hours until I was really sleepy, realized I actually never got around to reading my book, and got ready to get up and go to bed.  Then as I was getting ready to shut down the computer, I noticed this link that Daniel had left open and I read it. It was a blog post that the blogger wrote as a letter to the Church of North America, urging Christians to give a rip about the world and not just themselves.  (When you finish reading this blog post, if you want to read it [and feel incredibly convicted], click here.)

Here's the effect this person's blog had on me; it shook me awake a little bit.  It made me remember that there's a lot going on in the world besides my own problems.  It made me think about how much I try to distract myself and just get through another day lately, instead of spending time talking to and listening to God.  I realized how focused I've been on myself and my own life and how every chance I get, I turn to a book or the computer or the tv or some other thing that will entertain and distract me for a little while.  I thought about all the time I waste on stuff that's absolutely meaningless and how much I wish I had the discipline to put those things in their proper place and give more attention to the things God wants to say and do.

This woman's blog was about her recent trip to Africa, and Daniel and I used to live in Africa, in Zambia, for a year before our kids were born, when we were considering a long-term move overseas.  We ultimately settled back in New Castle (that's a story for another blog post).  Strangely, I have found myself thinking about Zambia a lot lately and kind of longing for that time in my life, and I know at least partly why that is; in Africa, there were very few distractions.  I didn't have a cell phone.  I didn't have tv or a computer or my own car.  I didn't have access to facebook.  I didn't have all the crap that I use now to waste my time and it was very easy to have a healthy, consistent relationship with God because it was just so freaking quiet.  And simple.  And I miss that.  I miss feeling like I could hear God speaking to me on a daily basis because there just wasn't much to compete with Him.  I wasn't busy and I wasn't distracted.  

I get so frustrated at myself when I fall into a slump of spiritual laziness and distraction, and that's how my last couple months have been.  I get so frustrated at the things I choose to do with my time, regardless of how little of it I have nowadays.  I get so frustrated at how incredibly dull life gets when I give my attention to things of this world.  I'm so sick of facebook right now!  Reading that blog post was like having someone snap their fingers in front of my face and say, "Hey! You! Don't forget that God has things in mind for you, so go talk to Him and listen to Him.  Stop letting so much of your time be wasted on things that DO NOT MATTER."  If this is turning into a rant, it's only a rant about myself, because this is the story of my life.  My relationship with God is one I easily neglect and then I have a moment of clarity where I'm like, "What did I just do with my evening? Why did I flip channels when I could have read my Bible, or prayed with Daniel, or talked to God about my day?"  Of course there is nothing evil with flipping channels or vegging out once in a while, but for me, I'm just over it right now.  I want something fresh from God, I want to be used by Him, I want to hear from Him and be faithful and vibrant and on the move!

Anybody else every feel this way?  Oh please tell me I'm not the only one.  I want to be different, I want to be spiritually alert, don't you?  Please tell me someone else out there wants to just shut off their phones, shut off facebook, shut off the tv and see how different life is when distractions are eliminated, or at least scaled WAY back.  Anybody?  How different would we be if we did?