Hope Recovers from Fear

My son is sick, and I am afraid.Caleb and Mom at Rachel's wedding

Because he is a cancer survivor (eight years, bless God!), when something happens that interrupts that heart relief of his healing – my soul fears.

Last week, he was disoriented. He couldn’t drive, couldn’t write his name, had trouble putting words together to make a sentence.

The honest prayer of Reverend G poured from me, “Oh God oh God oh God. I can’t stand it.”

We scheduled an appointment with the neurologist who ordered the usual lab work and then an MRI.

The night before the imaging test, I woke up every two and a half hours to check on Caleb – to tiptoe into his bedroom, touch his forehead, check his breathing.

Every two and a half hours – the same amount of time that he woke me up for feedings when he was a baby. Now, 29 years later, my mommy heart somehow answered an internal alarm to check on my grown child.

Every time I returned to bed, I fell to my knees to beg God, “Please! Will you take my last living child? You already have my first two babies. Please, please, save my son!”

My prayers became whimpers of pleading along with the recitations of verses to remind God of his promises:

“No weapon used against us will prosper. No weapon, God. Please.”

“God delivers us from all our fears. Deliver us, oh God.”

“Peace I leave with you. Peace I give unto you. Your beloved peace, I beg of you.”

Then the morning sky, the day of the MRI, that metal machine surrounding my son’s body, imprinting its pictures on the radiologic screen – answers that will bring relief or sorrow.

Oh God oh God oh God. I can’t stand it.

Then the waiting. They read the results. Fax them to the doctor. Contact my son. He texts me.

No tumor. No reoccurrence.

Oh God oh God oh God. I thank you.

But then a reminder of other mothers who will receive bad news this day. Some will not thank God but fall to their knees in grief, stand before a coffin and place flowers on a grave.

Oh God – deliver us from the ravages of death. Come, Lord Jesus.

We still have no answers for this attack on Caleb’s body. More doctors. More tests.

But in the process, hope revives. We will deal with whatever it is and thrust our fear-filled hearts toward the only One who knows the answers.

Hope still survives.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Gratitude Attitudes

Out on my deck, I consider the last gasp of summer – this season I enjoy with its plantings and harvests, its colors and textures. In my gratitude journal, I record the sights and sounds so that in the cold misery of winter – I will not forget what my heart is now thankful for.20140822_095730

A baby cardinal, his downy feathers fluffed as he learns to fly.

Deep purple campanula that hangs over my terra cotta pot, a reminder of New Mexico and the Southwest colors I love.

Tinkling wind chimes in the briefest of leftover wind.

Relentless sunshine – a heat advisory now but in the winter when I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder – these sweltering days will be reminders of healthier moments.

A squirrel lying on the deck railing, lazily munching on seed – his own breakfast in bed.

My yellow umbrella that reminds me if we continue to pray and wait long enough – we will see God answer. https://rjthesman.net/2014/07/22/god-winks/

A nail that needs hammered deeper into the board – a visual sacrament to the God/man who took the nails for me.

My cup of hot tea that I brewed and chose myself, grateful I still have choices and can make my own sustenance.

A quickie prayer for Mom whose choices are fewer than ever within the fog of Alzheimer’s. Her choices will eventually all disappear.

Sparrows who compete with chickadees for my offered seed – tiny symbols that God’s eye is on me – His own sparrow who depends on the feeding from His hand.

Words and more words that illustrate the joyful flow within of the gift God gave me. In the beginning was the Word and the Word is in me.

Blueberry bushes – emblems of Reverend G’s favorite dessert, now past bearing yet still gorgeous as their leaves morph into early reds. http://amzn.to/11QATC1

A monarch who pulsates his wings in a happy dance, sucking morning dew from the lantana I planted, hoping to attract him and his choir of butterflies.

My herb garden: rosemary, thyme, chives, lavender and cilantro that provide flavor and health throughout the year, reminding me to eat what God has created rather than what man manufactures.

The sunflowers that reach heavenward, moving their cheery faces toward the Kansas sky.

My cat who watches from inside the house, begging me to take her outside. “Later, Betsy. After I finish meeting with God.”

Do we ever finish meeting with God? Even when I return inside to dump a load into the laundry, baste the marinating chicken again and steer the dust mop over dirty floors – my thoughts will float to this early morning tabernacle.

I will remember how these hallowed moments prepared me for the day, somehow strengthened my resolve to be more present with God and encouraged my lonely heart.

Out on my deck, I find my solace and there, in an attitude of grateful praise, I find the reality of my faith ensconced in the creatures and plants God made before he made my species. In concert with Him, I whisper, “It is good.”

I finish writing in my gratitude journal and spin around in a final chorus of praise. My deck becomes an altar and the outside world a sanctuary. Together, the rocks, the birds, the plants and I cry out in spontaneous worship.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo




Saga of the Towels

Every towel in Mom’s house was worn thin and bleached out. Drying off after a shower felt like rubbing sandpaper all over my body – great for exfoliation, not so great for comfort.

So I decided to update my mother’s towels. I bought Mom a beautiful set of pastel blue towels, embroidered with a band of royal blue flowers. Blue – her favorite color, and a bargain at K-Mart.towels

She loved the towels and promised to use them. I planned to buy her another set for her birthday, then Mother’s Day and Christmas – to gradually help her replace all her towels.

But Alzheimer’s set in, and Mom forgot where she put things. She started to hoard and hide. She gave away things she was supposed to keep and kept items that should have been trashed.

Her pots and pans? A daily search for the right cabinet. Her car registration form? In the bottom of the dumpster. The beautiful towels I gave her – a mystery.

When I visited, I asked her, “Where are the pretty blue towels? Haven’t you been using them?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said.

We searched in all the logical places: the linen closet, the laundry, even the top of Mom’s closet where she hides things she might some day use. No blue towels anywhere. I wondered if she gave them away or if they somehow landed in the trash can.

I wavered between anger at the loss of my gift and sadness for the disease that stole away so much of my mother.

What was the point of buying new towels for someone who forgot where she put them? Once again, I dried off with the same old sandpaper fabric.

Then we had to admit Mom to the assisted living facility where someone else took care of her laundry, including her towels. She seemed content. No worries and no memories.

The next time I traveled to Oklahoma, I stayed night in the family home. “Look what I found,” my sister said as she handed me a bundle of fuzzy comfort. Once Mom moved out of the house, it was easier to find things she had hidden in corners and crevices.

I hurried to the privacy of the bedroom, buried my face in the beautiful blue towels and grieved for another lost piece of my mother.

©2013 RJ Thesman

Seeing My Characters

During a trip to a garden center, I saw them. Big as life and twice as wonderful. My two main characters. Who could have imagined they would suddenly surface while I looked for the latest varieties of petunias? They stood next to a shelf of geraniums, apparently waiting for me to discover them.

I barely paid attention to the people around me – a warning to writers everywhere. Pay attention to people! My mind focused on which annuals to plant and how many perennials I could afford. Spring is one of my favorite seasons, right up there with fall and summer. Forget winter. In the spring, God surprises me with wildflowers that somehow made it through the cold months and greet me with a morning, “Here we are. Don’t you love us?” Yes, I do.

During the winter, I save my coins to buy flowers in the spring. I carefully plot out where to plant the various colors and textures so that they accessorize the house and bring cheer to my neighbors. The perennials go in a special garden that returns each year and blesses me as it breeds. Container gardens on my deck make me smile each time I open the door or peer out the window. Did I mention how much I love flowers?

So the annual trip to the garden center is a treasured moment. I concentrate on buying just the right amount of blooms yet sometimes surprise myself with a brand new hybrid. But what a delight to run into my fictional characters – right in the middle of a sunshiny Kansas day.

There they were. Human clones of Reverend G and Chris. Okay, he didn’t have a mustache, but I easily imagined one thriving just above his top lip. His long white hair bespoke the bearing and eclectic genius of a college professor. Not quite as tall as my Chris, but hey – he wore sandals. In dress shoes, he’d be just the right height.

And Reverend G – a petite lady with white hair, bunched behind her head in a scoonchie, standing beside her man with a look of utter contentment. Obviously in the middle of one of her prayers to the God who understands why He allowed her to fall into the abyss of Alzheimer’s.

They looked at flowers, too, she with her arm in his – he, carrying one of those cardboard flats that hold the seedlings. My two main characters who go through several adventures in life and end up…well…you have to read the book to find out.

I looked around me and wondered, Am I the only person who sees them? Have I finally succumbed to the creative disorder of novelists who spend so much time with their characters that they dream about them, pray for them and see them in real life? Or are these two people in front of me actual human beings, deeply in love and enjoying spring as much as I?

They passed on, and I finished my shopping with a giggle in my soul. Only after I paid for my flowers, settled them in my trunk and started my car did I think about the camera on my phone. Why hadn’t I taken a picture? Why not boldly walk up to this couple and say, “You look just like two of the wonderful people in my novel. Would you mind if I took a picture of you among all these beautiful flowers?”

Of course by that time, they were no longer in sight.

I’ll just have to go back to the garden center, buy more flowers and search for Reverend G and Chris. If I find them again, I’ll take a picture. Then I’ll have proof that I’m not crazy.