Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ponderings after hours in the intensive care waiting room...

I was driving toward campus yesterday with the radio tuned in to the Moody Channel. My ears perked up a bit when I heard the man being interviewed talk about one of my most life affecting books called Margin by Richard Swenson. This was in the light of the rush and business of the Holiday season.

Margin is one of those books my thoughts keep going back to when life starts to squeeze me with too much to do in too little time (sounds like most people's December) and with limited resources. I am reminded of the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day when I worked outside the home, had numerous church and school commitments, still wanted to make gifts by hand, and would have enjoyed some kind of Advent study if I had an extra five minutes.

Life was... complicated... good... but busy. Sometimes we just have too many options in our life! At one time, it wasn't that I couldn't say no during the Holidays... the challenge was in so many facets of my life demanding time and "no" was not always an option. So... my beloved Christmas season would fly by with me looking in the rear view mirror wondering what happened.

This year has been quite different as various circumstances add up to... quiet. It's not all that bad to have a quiet Christmas. As I mentioned already, I have watched favorite Christmas movies and read books and listened to music and enjoyed the Christmas decorations (missing those I did not put out this year but not enough to take down boxes and put them away). :)

This morning I spent a couple hours with my sister in the intensive care waiting room. Other families came and went... all of them in a place they rather would not be at Christmas. A young Mennonite mother held the cutest baby while telling Bonnie that her mother was being moved out of the ICU unit. Her mother is dying of cancer and they know this will be their last Christmas with her. Their hope is she becomes well enough to return home for Christmas.

Another family was discussing their loved one's brain injury. Bonnie told me of another woman who had been with her since Friday but whose husband had just died the night before. There had been families of accident victims waiting to hear if their loved ones would make it or not.

I thought how different their lives were from the general population. Crisis causes life to come to a screeching halt. What was urgent before their loved one's illness or accident is now not so important. Holding on to what matters... they become focused to that one thing... life.

It was good to enter that world, even if but a couple of hours. It made financial and health concerns minimal in my own life. Hope abounds here where the forest meets the corn fields. Whether a quiet Christmas like I am having or the busy days of past seasons... there are and were options.

The family members and friends present in that room this morning would tell us to embrace each day of normal life and enjoy the season. I left when two of my nieces arrived bringing their mother food, Christmas cookies, and a change of clothes. It was good to return home to my quiet Christmas after being reminded of those experiencing sorrow and crisis... quiet can be good.


Emily said...

I feel so bad for your sister, Brenda. May the Lord sustain her. You're so right about the urgent becoming unimportant when crisis strikes. It certainly gives us perspective on what it truly important. May that thought cause us to redeem our time wisely, and put more of our efforts into our relationships than in things.

Jan said...

I have read the book "Margin" and found its wisdom life changing. Not until this year was it really life changing as I got sick in March and still do not have a diagnosis. Breathing issues have made me sloooow way down and put several burdens down as well.
We will have a quiet Christmas here and I am revelling in it.

Happy@Home said...

In the midst of all the beauty taking place in blogland, I find your post to be one of the most meaningful ones I have read. I will admit to spending a great deal of time blog hopping as I admire the beautifully decorated homes, fabulous crafts being made and cookies being baked. Don't get me wrong, I love it all. But, I also know all too well the place you are talking about today. Many years ago I sat with my Dad in the hospital as he faced his final days of a long battle with cancer. He passed away on Dec. 15that year. Last year my Mom was in the ICU on Christmas after suffering a stroke and suffering from Alzheimer's. She passed away in October. As I said I know all too well what it feels like to grieve at Christmastime. It is a lonely place as it seems like you are supposed to be Merry and it isn't always easy to do so.
My thoughts and prayers are with your sister. And I thank you for addressing this topic on your blog as I'm sure there are many of us who are dealing with this.

matty said...


Your family continues to be lifted in prayer.

I am reminded of the verse:

Be still, and know I am God.

We need more stillness, don't we, to remember this.

Take care,


Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,

It seems that I read your blog when I most need to. My mom is in a nursing home, suffering from dementia. I've been feeling very sorry for myself, having lost my father to cancer 10 years ago, and now my mother through her mental decline. I spoke with hospice today, and they offered to help the nursing home with her continued decline.

I was just telling my daughter that my holidays will never be the same after losing my father and now my mom may not live much longer.

But after reading your blog, I feel blessed. I will have my mom for Christmas, God willing, her physical health remains stable. She still enjoys visits with family. I'll take whatever time I have left with her and hold it close.

Thank you again for your wonderful words, and may you have a blessed

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about perspective. My husband has been out of work for 10 months now. We may have to sell our house. May not have health insurance soon. BUT, my sister-in-law lost her beloved husband to cancer on 9/11/09. I wouldn't trade places with her for anything.

Laura C.

Carol said...

Thank you. I needed to hear this.

Linda said...

I was forced to slow down this year because of being more tired. I have just taken things slow, but am surprised that I have still gotten a lot done and enjoyed it more. I have done less, less decorations, less gifts, less food items, less shopping and less money spent another benefit. I've also been reading a lot. I haven't read margins but have heard of it. I got the idea it was about not filling up your life with too many things, but maybe there is more to it than that. Linda

nanatrish said...

Brenda, another thought provoking post. I love your writing and I am surprised that I now love to be quiet also. Growing up I needed to have some kind of commotion going on all the time. Now peace and quiet are so precious. You help me to get more perspective on life. I totally agree that when you have a loved one in Intensive Care it's as though your life is put on hold. It's so hard to understand how everyone else is still moving about. I pray for Bonnie and this difficult time she is going through. Take care.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your sister and family, pray the Father will be with them in this time!! There are always those going through so much more difficulties than we are!!

Hope you can get away to be with your sister often.