Friday, October 26, 2018

From my bunk in this Minnesota lodge.

For five years I called this medical town home. You might not recognize the town's name. Or the view nestled amongst the cornfields and well, more cornfields. You might not have heard of this, the one city in a state of 10,000 lakes WITHOUT a natural lake. 

But if you have ever loved someone with a serious illness, you know the name on every medical building in this town. You know it. You trust it. And chances are you are grateful for some life-saving medicine done here, discovered here, practiced here -- here at the Mayo Clinic.

For five years, this was home. Wade spent most of his hours at that Mayo Clinic, learning, training, caring for patients. And the triplets and I spent our time embracing life in Rochester.

A big part of that for me -- a huge huge part of that -- was Side by Side, a ministry for medical wives. Side by Side was and is an opportunity to connect with other women who understand that though I am married, I am often parenting alone while my guy does some amazing life-saving things.

Worshipping in the Mother Ship -- Side by Side - Rochester, MN.

And Side by Side was where I could say how guilty I felt about wanting my guy to stop the life-saving things to come home and be with us. And Side by Side was where I learned that Wade's calling is really and truly the calling of our family -- and that we have to come along side him to support him so he can do what he does.

Sun was a huge reason I could participate in Side by Side -- she would meet me at the door to help the triplets into her room! I was delighted to see her today and know she is still loving on the babies that come in those doors!

And really, Side by Side is about sisterhood and learning to lean in and on the women willing to stand with you in this journey.

Reuniting with some precious friends is always a gift!
(My internet connection won't let me add all the photos I am trying to add so be on the lookout for more!!)

This weekend I am in Rochester at a retreat for Side by Side leaders. I am thrilled to reconnect with some of my dear friends from my tenure here and excited to make new friends from all over the country -- women committed to come alongside their fellow sisters on this journey.

It's a treat to pass on the support. It's a gift to celebrate our sisterhood. And it is a blessing to be together in this ministry!

Oh there is more to come....

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Thursday, October 25, 2018

From my gate in the Philly airport.

The airport might be my favorite place to people-watch. And people-watching is definitely one of my favorite things.

Today, I observed a little teeny tiny baby in a stroller. Bazillions of people were all around her -- I say bazillions, it was the security line so honestly it might be more! ;) -- but this little doll baby only had eyes for her mommy. Those eyes were locked in watching mom's every single move. I couldn't help but wonder if mom knew how fast those eyes would find the rest of the world. I couldn't help but wonder if she was desperate for a moment alone -- a bathroom break even -- where she didn't have little eyes watching her. I wanted to hug her gently and encourage her exhausted spirit.

The one in bazillion in line right in front of me had tattoos on every visible surface. I will admit that I was mesmerized trying to read the words behind each ear (One said "Love to hate" and the other "Hate to love.") but it was the spider web all over the back of his ear that fascinated me most. Ouch. I was wondering what drives someone to cover every surface when he turned around and asked where I was going. I laughingly asked if he could tell I had been reading every tattoo on his head....he couldn't but admitted that he often forgets and then asks people what the **** they are looking at? I was rather glad he hadn't felt my eyes. We had a lovely talk about the choices  and if the spider web was painful (It was.). The conversation was as colorful as the tattoos on his head and neck and I might have cringed a bit (I can't help it. I think there are enough words in the English language to avoid a couple....) and then he looked me straight in the face and asked if I could see the tattoos looking at him straight on. I could but just barely and just the ones at the edge of his face. He told me his mama told him to do that. "She said, 'Leave your face, clean, son'" he explained, "And I've always listened to my mama." 

And suddenly the two people I had been observing while waiting in the line, didn't seem so far apart. 

Oh mamas, those little eyes are watching us, they are. And though, I promise, you will eventually get to the bathroom alone (I have been told this anyway), your child will keep his eyes on you and your influence for far longer than you imagine!

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Chlorine, Converse, and the Beauty of Friends.

The beauty of social media -- I know I sound like a broken record when I say this -- is being able to reconnect with people I have known in every season of my life.

There were some serious dark ages where long-distance phone calls cost a fortune and email was not yet a thing. I know. I'm old.

So, leaving college and moving out of state, meant losing contact with those friends who I enjoyed knowing and talking with but my long-distance budget required that I limit calling. Oh sure, we wrote letters, or at least we sent Christmas cards. But in those early years out of college and newly-married, we all scattered and moved a lot and keeping up-to-date sometimes fell through the cracks.

But for ten years or so, I have delighted in finding friends from high school and college -- seeing their families, watching those families grow. I have found great joy in the re-connections and have even had some in-life reunions as a result! And perhaps one of the sweetest parts of this has been reuniting with my Garawya girls -- the girls who worked at Camp Garaywa with me during our summers in college.

Oh we lived large those summers -- we corralled little girls, we marched with our little campers following as we sang, and skipped, and kept them giggling in a valiant effort to ensure they did NOT miss home! 

We learned lifeguard skills and sported tans and chlorine-bleached hair. We learned to start campfires, and cook over them! We learned to wake on a moment's notice and deal with all manner of emergency. Those summers smelled of sunscreen and bug spray and a healthy dose of chlorine and THE best chocolate brownies I have ever had.

I have no idea what we were doing. I'm sure it was quite serious, however.

And we bonded. There are no walls when you are serving as camp counselors together. We shared cabins and a bathhouse. We found our silliest self and performed skits, and sang songs, and just giggled. We shared details of our lives and walked with each other through hard stuff. We overcame fears and pushed our physical limits. And we did it all together.

Skit night.

Oh yes, reconnecting with the Garaywa girls has been one of my favorite things.

And this week, one of our group lost her son. That isn't even accurate. She didn't lose him. He died from the horrible that is cancer. But she didn't lose him. She knows exactly where he is and her joy on  Social Media in this horrible, very hard, terrible thing has reached through the screen and grabbed me. I have prayed for this young man for years as he battled, recovered, lived. And I am grieving with her -- even though I never had the chance to meet Harrison in person.

A  young me and my friend Charla singing at camp -- "Jesus Never Fails."

And so I keep thinking about those young girls who spent their summers working, serving, loving life. And I wish I could go hug them and scream, "Enjoy these days. There are hard days coming. There are great days coming too. But outside these camp grounds bad things can happen. Hard things can hit. Climb back in that lifeguard stand and relish the chlorine-scented moments!!"

But even as I type that, I know that we were already facing hard things. We didn't need to be reminded that life could get harder.

Perhaps the one that needs to be reminded is 50-year-old me...perhaps I need to remember to find my silly. Maybe I need to jump in a pool and let the chlorine do its magic. Maybe, there are some pink converse and a silly skit just waiting for me to perform.

And maybe the biggest lesson of all: I need to remember that walking hand in hand with some amazing friends who will hug me, love me, laugh with me, cry with me, and always (always always) point me to Jesus was the real magic of Garawya and the memories that I hold so dear.

So Charla, I am here. I can put on some silly on a moment's notice. I can offer a shoulder. Or lend an ear. I'll even grab a couple of mics and sing my heart out with you (I can't however fit myself back into those white pants! ;) ). I love you, friend.

Carol - The Blessings Counter