Having Sons = Trips to the ER

Having raised three energetic sons, my husband and I have made many trips to the emergency room. We recounted some of them as we sat in the ER last night with our son Jon who had been injured playing indoor flag football.  Jon went deep for a long pass, got tangled up with a defender, and fell headfirst into the wall surrounding the field.  Much of the wall is plexiglass so spectators can watch the game; however, this particular corner section was wooden.  Jon had a mild concussion, a sprained wrist, and a gash in his head requiring seven staples.

I should add that Jon is 25, married, and the father of a nearly 2-year old son.  Jon first decided to join the adult flag football league a year and a half ago.  He tore his ACL in the first game and had to sit out an entire year.  He played his first full season earlier this year relatively injury free.  This second ten-week season has been a different story.  He fractured his left thumb in a game three weeks ago but continued to play.  His team was playing for the division championship last night, so Steve and I decided we should go to cheer him on.  His wife Ashley stayed home with their little one. He played about 10 minutes before being injured.  Hearing his head crash into the wall, my maternal instincts kicked in.  I hurried down the sidelines to see him sitting up and alert, with blooding running down the side of his head behind his ear.  I knew immediately that Steve and I would be making the trip to the ER with him.

Jon’s latest injury required seven staples.

Since our sons are all in the mid-twenties, it would be logical for this to have been our first ER visit with an injured son in many years, but that is not the case.  We hurried to the ER in the early hours of a cold morning in January of this year after our oldest son Chris scalded his hand with hot oil.  (See Jan. 7 blog for details.)

When our sons were at home, we made numerous visits to the doctor’s office or the ER for stitches and occasionally to set a broken bone.  We had particularly a scary visit when Matt at age 6 got a twig in his eye; the eye quickly swelled and Matt screamed in pain.  After it was removed, he could not read even the largest letter on the eye chart. He had to wear a patch for two weeks and, thankfully, his vision was fine when th patch was removed.  The bloodiest injury was when Chris gashed his foot on an oyster shell.  Blood poured from his foot.  Because oyster shells are full of bacteria, the doctor could not stitch his foot.  The gash had to be left open and the foot soaked for several days to prevent infection.  It continued to bleed for hours.

Jon and Ashley are expecting their second son in October.   Their first son is as busy and active as his father was at that age and I sure the new one will be as well.  Although I wish it weren’t so, I have no doubt that these little boys will have their fair share of injuries and that Jon and Ashley have many trips to the ER ahead of them.  It’s simply unavoidable when you’re raising sons.

Living Through a Major Renovation

Steve and I moved recently into a home that, while relatively new, needed some renovations, particularly in the master bathroom.  We had hoped to have the master bath remodeled before we moved in, but for reasons beyond our control, that did not occur.  Thus, we find ourselves in the midst of a major renovation project.

Home remodeling projects are never fun, easy, or inexpensive.  We have tended to buy newer homes and have generally limited home upgrades to cosmetic changes, such as painting or changing the floor coverings.  Our largest projects prior to the current one involved converting a screened porch into an office and finishing a portion of a basement.  Neither of those projects inconvenienced us much.

Renovating the master bathroom, however, is a totally different story.  Naturally, we had to remove all of our belongings from the bathroom and relocate them to the small guest bath down the hall. Since the closet is accessed through the bathroom, we had to empty the closet.  Our clothes are distributed among the closets in the three extra bedrooms. Unfortunately, for the sake of time, we did not perform this task in any organized manner. Getting dressed in the morning requires a search through all the closets for the desired clothing.

The existing tub and shower had to be gutted.  At the end of the first day of demolition, construction dust coated every piece of furniture in the master bedroom.  That night we vacuumed the carpet, dusted the furniture, and washed the bedding.  Then we covered every inch of the bedroom with plastic drop clothes.  Again this was done without proper forethought.  I wish I had retrieved clothing I would need from the dresser, but alas I did not. At least I know where the desired items are as I fight my way through the yards of plastic covering the dresser.  The first time we had to access the answer machine on the night stand, we moved it into the guest room, as well.

More plastic is adhered to our staircase and upstairs hall.  It keeps the debris off the carpet but not off our feet. I avoid going upstairs as much as possible because I don’t like getting bits of plaster stuck to the soles of my feet.  No matter how much we sweep, we cannot get it all up.  I look forward to the day we pull the plastic up and I feel carpet under my feet again.

Remodeling is messy, it’s inconvenient, it’s time consuming, and it’s costly.  So why are we putting ourselves through this process?  We do it for the end result, of course.  We are expecting to have a beautiful master bathroom that meets our needs when the remodeling is complete.  And although it feels like the remodeling has been going on forever, the entire project should be completed in only a few weeks.  We are willing to endure a short period of unpleasantness in order to achieve the desired finished product. We look forward to the day very soon when our master bathroom will be completed to our specifications and will once again be a usable part of our home. 

As I have watched the bathroom transformation, I have been reminded of the way God moves in us to transform our hearts and reform us to be useful for His needs.  Our old bathroom was operational but it didn’t meet our needs.  The old fixtures had to be demolished and the space cleaned of all the debris before the workers could install the new fixtures.  God has to rid our lives of everything that hinders His work before we can be fully useful to Him.  Sin has to go, of course, but also bitterness, pain, and unforgiveness.  When we give those things to God, He removes them from our hearts and fills the empty spaces with His love, peace, forgiveness, and understanding.  The old has to give way to the new.  The process is often messy and painful but the end result is more beautiful than we could have imagined.

I’m looking forward to the day that my bathroom renovation is complete and even more so to the day that my personal renovation is complete and I stand in the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If your life needs a renovation, Jesus Christ is the answer.

Mom’s Cross-Country Plane Trip

On of the legendaries stories in our family is of my mother’s plane trip from California to North Carolina.  The year was 1961. We had been living in Oceanside, CA, for the past two years, while my father was stationed at Camp Pendleton.  When Dad got orders to Okinawa, Mom decided to move to Salisbury, North Carolina, where Dad’s extended family lived.

The trip was remarkable for a number of reasons. For starters, it was Mom’s first flight.   I don’t think she had any idea what to expect, which in hindsight was probably a blessing.  Had she known how stressful the flight would be, she may have decided to stay in California.  Two plane changes and a missed connection complicated the flight.

Secondly, she was traveling not only with me, but also with my three sisters.  Sharon, the oldest was 4, while Nancy was only 6 weeks old.  Jeanne and I were in the middle.  I can’t imagine going to the grocery store with four preschoolers, much less flying cross-country.  I take my hat off to my mother for being brave enough, or perhaps naive enough, to get on a plane with the four of us. 

The flight was also remarkable in that Mom’s survival depended on the kind assistance of total strangers.  Fortunately, her fellow passengers were eager to help.  After Jeanne kicked a tray of food in Mom’s lap, a young Marine offered to hold the baby.  He disappeared into another section of the plane.  Mom didn’t see him or Nancy until the end of the flight.  He took good care of Nancy and returned her after assisting Mom off the plane.  Others helped keep  Sharon and I in our seats after we decided to run up and down the aisle.

However, the most remarkable aspect of the flight was the reason Mom was returning to North Carolina.  Mom and Dad met as students at Catawba College in Salisbury.  They were married on Christmas Eve 1955, in the midst of Mom’s junior year of college. She finished the year and took some summer classes but dropped out before completing her degree when she learned Sharon was expected.  With Dad gone for a year, Mom decided to go back to school and finish her college degree.  She reasoned that  Dad’s parents, grandparents, and an assortment of aunts and uncles would provide plenty of help taking care of the four of us girls.

Mom finished her degree that year, majoring in biology and becoming certified as a teacher.  Dad returned safely from Okinawa and the family moved to Parris Island.  Mom and Dad would have five more children and Mom never become a paid school teacher.  However, she taught us children many lessons and skills by incorporating teaching into every day tasks and reading aloud to us until I was out of elementary school.

It never mattered to any of us that Mom didn’t “use” her degree.  The fact that she went to such great lengths to earn it demonstrated the importance of education and the value of hard work.  When I interviewed for a college scholarship, I was asked who my role model was.  That was an easy question.  Mom was my role model then and she continues to be my role model.  She placed a high value on education, but she placed an even higher value on serving and caring for her family.  When I had children, I strove to live up to the example she set and prioritizing raising my children above career success and achievement.

Thanks, Mom, for making that incredible cross-country flight more than 50 years ago.  Thanks for modeling the importance of hard work and education while teaching us that family is the most important part of your life.  And, especially, thank you for allowing Jesus Christ into your life and sharing His love and plan of salvation with the rest of us.

I love you, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!

The family Mom and Dad created.