It is often when we are swallowed up in God
that we find our true selves.
We discover our true identity, not as doers, but as be-ers.
Our tasks in this life boils down to:
‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Indeed, this is why so
many of us avoid silence and solitude—
because our self-identities are bound up in our busyness.
We’re consumed with managing our lives,
maintaining friendships, and loving our families.
We may be doing all this in an effort to love God,
to do God’s will, but back in the recesses of our minds,
we know that if we slow down long enough and
become quiet long enough, all these things, tasks, events, and doings
will recede in importance. Where then will we find identity?
Although it’s a frightening prospect to lose the things
that give us meaning, the spiritual masters
promise we’ll find, in our silence, a meaning more profound
than we could ever imagine.”
The Sacred Way, Tony Jones

March 2011

The Fear of Uncertainty

Today was a glorious day. Brooke’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Koen, “released” Brooke! Post-surgery, 14 weeks. Oh, the utter joy I felt inside only equaled by the great joy Brooke felt as well! I couldn’t help but shout a very loud, “YES!” as we walked out of his office. After months filled with the fear of uncertainty, it felt so good to know Brooke was moving forward.

These past six months have proven to be quite a challenge to my mother’s heart:

  • June, July, August 2010, received Brooke’s alarming phone call(s) that resonated signals of a mini-stroke, all while on tour with WinShape Camps. Hospitalized in Bradenton, Florida, many tests run, all to seemingly conclude exhaustion.
  • July 30, 2010, Brooke returns home to undergo a week-long battery of tests (one of which was for Lymphoma), with the final conclusion: Chiari Malformation with Syringomyelia AND a 39degree Scoliosis.
  • August 2010, Neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Koen, schedules brain surgery for Dec. 2010. Conclusion: the Chiari was larger than expected, but all went well.
  • December 2010, Surgery

A Meaning More Profound

For someone whose vocation depends on words, both spoken and written, I have had a hard time finding “words” that express how Brooke’s brain surgery journey effected me.  Tears haven’t come easily either. It seems my emotions have served as a bucket being slowly lowered into a very deep, very dark, well of silence. Not fear. Not worry. Not stress. No, just silence. Tony Jones says it best, “Although it’s a frightening prospect to lose the things that give us meaning, the spiritual masters promise we’ll find, in our silence, a meaning more profound than we could ever imagine.”

In the midst of this journey, I managed to journal a few thoughts, which now comprise #7-10 on my Top Ten 2010 Year in Review:

“If you live in what-if’s, you stop living.”
(Marie Osmond)

  1. #7: Sept. 25, 2010: “What and if are two words as non-threatening as words can be, but put them together side-by-side, and they have the power to haunt you the rest of your life. . . what if. . . what if . . . what if!” (Letters to Juliet). Dr. Koen had to inform me of all the possibilities that could happen during Brooke’s surgery. No need to list them, let’s just say they were scary. So, 2 Corinthians 10:5 became a reality on a day-to-day basis, oftentimes, minute-by-minute. Paul writes, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” When we face the dark night of our souls, we have to live, eat, and breathe God’s truth.
  2. #8: Oct. 28, 2010: “As creatures accountable to God for his creation, we are responsible for managing the gifts God has given us, and one of these gifts is ourselves. When we restrict, ignore, or suppress certain aspects of ourselves in order to hold on to relationships with others, we are not being good stewards of the gifts God has entrusted to us. Likewise, when we insist that others act in particular ways to meet our relational needs, we are not respecting their gifts” (Stronger Than You Think by Kim Gaines Eckert, p. 162). During these times of troubled waters my dear friends formed a loving bridge on which I could sit and be. One particular day, post surgery, one dear friend and her family stopped by. No special reason, just to sprinkle some of their love dust all over our family. They didn’t stay long, just long enough to make us forget the pain and remember the joy. This meant the world to me, primarily because I grew up in an alcoholic home where I was always afraid for anyone “to just stop by.” And, I would never have “just stopped by” someone else’s home.
  3. #9: Nov. 2, 2010, “Faith is the one faculty capable of bridging the chasm between our limiting humanness and God’s real world of the Spirit. Faith, then, becomes our inner Spirit’s eyes, ears, touch, even wisdom and understanding” (The Helper by Catherine Marshall, p. 167). Through a seemingly “coincidental” meeting with remarkable Rosemary Trible, I was invited to an eight-week Bible Study being held in her home. Boy, did Jesus know I needed to be in her presence; watching, listening, and learning, to a petite powerhouse of a woman share about the role the Holy Spirit plays in her life. Every Tuesday afternoon, I hid in the shelter of her home—basking in the Son while feeling the fresh breezes of the James River. I cried every week and it felt so good.
  4. #10: December 14, 2010, “Ask him to forgive you for substituting anything for the power of his love and invite him to show you how your diligent efforts at good works for him may be obscuring his love for you. Let God do the rest. He will draw you to himself” (So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymoreby Wayne Jacobson & Dave Coleman). If we allow the dark places to do their hidden work, we become closer to Jesus than ever before. From the first moment the doctor looked at me and said, “Mrs. Rardon, this is serious. You need to really listen to me,” to the hundreds of moments spent, in silence, by Brooke’s bedside in the Neuro ICU, the awareness of what really matters in life hit me hard. Watching and waiting for her eyes to open, for her smile to return, and for her body to respond to simple neuro cues, became the sole focal point of the day. I am so guilty of getting caught up in “substituting anything(s)” for the power of life in God. Somehow, some way, my prayer is that my “diligent efforts at good works for him” will not obscure God’s love for me.

Brooke and our hero, Dr. Joseph Koen

So it is time to close out my Top Ten 2010 and get on with 2011. It’s almost April! It feels good to look back in order to look forward! The gifts within perspective and hindsight are priceless. Let me leave you with the summation of my 2010 in hopes that it will speak to your heart, as well:

God knocks on the door of the
sacred moment as it unfolds before us.
Unfortunately, we are often unaware of that knock until we look back
and reflect on an experience in hindsight.
God’s knock can be as soft as an intuition or a gut feeling;
it can be as loud as a need to which only we can respond.
Sometimes that knock surprises
even the most spiritually attuned among us.”
This Sacred Moment: Becoming Holy Right Where You Are
-Albert Haase

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