Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amy's Hospital Trip

I was going to write about the unexpected snowfall today, but something else caught my attention, and so I will write about that instead.  If you're wondering what on earth could make me change my focus, let me give you a photograph that will illustrate my concerns right now:
This is Amy.  She is my thirteen year old sister... and if the photo is too small or too blurry for you to understand what is going on, she is in a hospital bed with an IV in her wrist and a contrast dye drink in her hands.  Yuck.  But I'll start from the very beginning...

We drove to church this morning all stuffed into my dad's pick up because it's our only vehicle with 4 wheel drive.  Amy was complaining of a tummy ache, but everyone pretty much said, "Sorry, that's not a good enough excuse not to go to church."  After church, we went out to eat at a Mexican food place.  On our way home, Amy made us stop the car, and she went outside and threw up.  After that, her stomach continued to hurt, until my parents drove her into town to visit the doctor and make sure everything was okay.

I called my mom to talk to her about something else that's going on, and I suddenly hear loud voices in the background, and she said, "Oh no, I gotta go help.  Bye!" and hung up the phone.  I stared at the blank screen, stunned.  I texted my mother, asking what was going on, and she simply replied, "The surgeon is here."  After that, nothing. 

About half an hour later, my mother called me and said that Amy has an extremely high WBC count of about 18,000 (white blood cell count), and they were admitting her into the hospital overnight for testing.  A high WBC count is indicative of either an infection of some sort or appendicitis. 

Luke (my brother), my dad, and I gathered Amy's stuff together and went back up to the hospital to visit her.  I gotta admit, it was a strange feeling, seeing my sister looking frail and ashen in her hospital bed, curled up into a ball to fight off the stomach pain.  But then the nurse came in and told her she had to drink a special contrast dye so that they could see what's going on in the CT scan, and she didn't look so feeble and weak anymore... she seemed loud enough to me... loud enough to throw a fit and make the nurses and everyone else beg her to drink the nasty thing.  Sigh...

The suddenness of this hospitalization was startling.  We were going through our normal day.  Church, food, shopping, nap time... bam, you gotta go to the hospital.  What's scariest is that nobody knows what is wrong.  Hopefully they will find what is going on in my sister's body and fix it... soon. 

This all reminds me of a Bible verse:

James 4:14-15
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

We honestly do not know what is going to happen in our lives.  Whether you're spending a family Sunday together and someone ends up in the hospital, or you're arguing in the car with someone and you get into an accident that will change your life forever... we don't know what is going to happen.  Only God knows that.  That's why it's pointless to put your trust in anyone but Him.  The doctors can't say for sure what will happen.  The weatherman can't say for sure what will happen.  Only God can.

I'm going to keep my heart and my eyes open, to see what He has in store for us.  I trust Him fully.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

That Sleepy Day

Today is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year.  Everyone is laughing and spending long-awaited family time.  Some people are spending hours in the kitchen, carving turkeys and making stuffing and dressing and gravy and cranberry sauce.  Others (like my family) already went to Cracker Barrel and bought a "home cooked" meal.  Whatever you are doing this year, I hope it lives up to your every expectation.

Some of my family is getting together today; the rest are gathering this weekend to cook and eat yet another Thanksgiving feast.  Right now I have my aunt and uncle, my cousin Jonathan, and my grandparents all in town, and later today we are going to see The Blind Side in theaters, which should be an amazing movie.  I'm excited about it.

I'm thankful for my family, I'm thankful for my friends, and my home and my clothes and my entire life.  Everything I have, I am thankful for it.  Thank you, God. 

I look out my window, the sky is pale blue
The fall air is nippy and cold
But I'm cozy inside with a blanket and mug
And a wonderful family to hold

The turkey is large and it's filling the fridge
Everything else was long since kicked out
And the Cowboys game is blaring downstairs
While my dad cheers his team with a shout

My house is quite warm, the food is all good
Excitement stirs about in the room
For while Thanksgiving Day is a time of great joy
The Christmas holiday is coming soon

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

80% (This Thanksgiving Holiday)

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  I am already envisioning the turkey, the dressing, all the wonderful food that I am going to enjoy.  The only damper on this much anticipated holiday is the constant reminder in the back of my mind that while I eat each bite of this Thanksgiving feast, there are those around the world who will be eating nothing.  Not one bite all day.  And maybe not the day after that either. 
Did you know that more than 80% of the earth's population survives on less than $10 a day?  My friends often tease me about saying this when we head to Starbucks or the movie theater and spend a ton of money on pointless things like a caramel mocha or a movie ticket.  I say guiltily, "Here we are spending twenty bucks on nothing, when most of the world survives on less than $10 a day."

It may seem pessimistic, but I want to keep reminding everyone around me, including myself, that we are so privileged.  Everything I have is a gift.  The bottle of water sitting eight inches away from me is a privilege.  The blanket wrapped around my shoulders right now is a privilege.  My family is downstairs, laughing and watching The Biggest Loser together.  They are a huge blessing.  I am blessed with so much that the rest of the world doesn't have.

First of all, I need to remember to not be ungrateful for the things that I have, and that can be such a difficult thing.  When things go wrong, when I don't like something, my first instinct is to push it away, to complain.  But I need to be more grateful for things, because there are so many out there who long for the things that I don't want.

Second, I need to be careful not to waste, not to fritter my money away on too many pointless things, not to 'not care' about the people who truly need money out there.  I don't want to be one of the people I wrote about in my song "Drink the Coffee," where I wrote, "We never stop and think about the hungry.  We never stop and think about the broken.  We just sit around and laugh, and we waste a few earned bucks, while the children fade away... we drink our coffee while Jesus cries."  I don't want to be like that.  I need to have better understanding about the world around me, and have an awareness about everything I am doing.  After all, I am an example of Christ.

Lastly, I need to give more.  That is fairly self-explanatory.  There are people who have nothing all over the world, even in the town in which I live.  These people are hungry.  That shirt that I never wear because I don't like its color... there are people who would love to have something that nice to wear.  Those old shoes that I have just because I don't feel like throwing them out quite yet... millions of children don't even have any shoes at all.

This holiday season has already, and will have, both sad and sweet times for me.  As I continue to grow and slowly transform myself to be a tiny mold of Christ, I need to constantly remember the children out there who have nothing.  I cannot forget them.  I refuse to blend back in to how I was before.  I am being changed by Christ's compassion for His children, and I want my heart to continue to change.