Thursday, April 3, 2014

Such a Small World & the Power of Spirit!

As I go through the grieving process I continually change or evolve my understanding of spirit.


noun: spirit; plural noun: spirits
  1. 1.
    the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.
    "we seek a harmony between body and spirit"
    synonyms:soul, psyche, (inner) self, inner being, inner man/woman, mind, ego, id; More

    "harmony between body and spirit"

    antonyms:body, flesh
    • the nonphysical part of a person regarded as a person's true self and as capable of surviving physical death or separation.
      "a year after he left, his spirit is still present"
    • the nonphysical part of a person manifested as an apparition after their death; a ghost.
      synonyms:ghost, presence; More

      "a spirit haunts the island"

    • a supernatural being.
      "shrines to nature spirits"
    • short for Holy Spirit.
      noun: Spirit; noun: the Spirit
    • archaic
      a highly refined substance or fluid thought to govern vital phenomena.
  2. 2.
    those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period.
    "the university is a symbol of the nation's egalitarian spirit"
    synonyms:ethos, prevailing tendency, motivating force, essence, quintessence;

    attitudes, beliefs, principles, standards, ethics
    "the spirit of the age"

Not just my spirit, not just Sam's spirit..but the spirits of those that have passed before me...those who left my life before I was ready for them to go...even my understanding of the Holy Spirit.

As a Missouri Synod Lutheran we are taught about the Triune God and the role of the Holy Spirit.  I always get nervous when speaking for the Lutheran Church, not because of my lack of faith but instead because of my lack of biblical theology but since my pastor also reads my blog I know he will correct me if I have spoken incorrectly.  So in my understanding, the Holy Spirit gives the gift of God's grace, creates faith in the hearts of individuals, forgives sins for the sake of Christ's death on the cross, and grants eternal life and salvation. all sounds really churchy...and maybe it is just me but sometimes it is hard to take scripture and apply it to me and my life however when it comes to the Holy Spirit I think I got this.  I know through the gift of baptism I was given the Holy Spirit and heaven was opened to me.  For a long time I had a very passive relationship with the Holy Spirit...from my perspective, I talked the talk but I wasn't really walking the walk. I went to church, I attended Sunday school and I was confirmed and I continued to attend church...and then along came Sam...a child that would challenge my faith, what I believed and would ultimately strengthen my relationship with the Holy Spirit.

It wasn't the diagnosis of Down syndrome that brought me closer, I still thought I had this...I could figure it out...I was in control.  Most people who know me well know I can be a wee bit of a control freak. It was when Sam got sick, when he would stop breathing, when he and I were in the ICU at Children's and I wasn't sure he was going to take his next was then...that the Holy Spirit and I became the best of friends. The realization that I was not in control, the realization that I could not handle both physically and mentally what was happening...that this was too much for me...was the turning point. The news that came after that Sam had most likely suffered a brain injury from his bouts of oxygen deprivation and the bleak future that was painted for my son should have devastated me...and yet I was empowered to question and seek guidance.  It was at that point that I worried less and prayed more. It was at that point that I went from feeling helpless to getting a little angry that anyone could look at that time a baby just a month old...and determine his future and all the things he would never be able to do.  It was the push I needed to research seek follow my gut instinct.  Hmmm...and that gut instinct...I feel that my gut instinct and my Internet research, the people I meet and even my GPS are all touched by the Holy Spirit.  How else could I have found NACD, the organization that helped me surpass all Sam's medical expectations by the age of 3 years old? How else could my GPS lead us on some of the most amazing road trip journeys and yet always keep us safe? And how else can I explain what happened this weekend when I went to church and while I was working?

I used to attend church because, well...that is what you"re supposed to do...right???  I now attend church because going through the liturgy comforts and renews me, because I want to be closer to God and thank him for the blessings and challenges in my life...and...because I attended church with my Mom and Dad...I often feel close to them while I am at church.  Sometimes it makes me happy as it did this weekend and sometimes I feel a little sad.  When I say I feel is at times like hearing them sing a favorite hymn with me or this weekend sensing them sitting with me as pastor went through his sermon.  This weeks lesson was on the blind man who received his sight.  I have always liked this lesson because it shadows much of what I feel in my journey with Sam.  In the early days there was the question "Why did Sam have Down syndrome?" We all knew and understood the medical reasons it was the philosophical reason we were seeking, why would God let this happen, why would this happen to Jeff and Sue and their family, what did they do wrong?? Then...why respiratory/immune issues, why a brain injury, why hearing loss, why apraxia, and our latest, why hip dysplasia and Perthes??? Why did God give one little boy so many challenges??? I LOVE and understand what Jesus says:  "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

I found it interesting that the pastor went on to talk about the miracle Jesus then performed and eluded to the above statement as a literal fact that he was blind so Jesus could perform His miracle and show the work of God instead of a more generalized understanding.  I doubt that there are few people who know Sam or his story, who read this blog, who have followed our journey...that haven't been touched, inspired or enlightened in some way. Sam's attitude, his purity, his acceptance of his lot in life, the cards dealt, the challenges and the blessings is something you can't help but learn from. I think if more of us approached life the way Sam does, we would be happier, more content and stress would be non-existent. Sam doesn't worry about material items, he cares more about people than things, he slows us down to appreciate more, he smiles and laughs a lot, he loves his family, he embraces everyone he meets, he never judges and he is content with his life.  I like to think that the work of God is displayed in Sam's life daily and if a miracle would happen to come along...we would be okay with that too.

After I left church I headed to George Webb's for breakfast.  It was busy and with only two waitresses on staff, patience was needed...luckily something Sam has taught me in spades.  I sat next to a man who was waiting for his take out order.  He quickly went from being patient to being rude and I thought of how that could have been me...before Sam.  Living daily with Sam, really spending time with him has changed me in so many positive ways.

I went on to work my shift at Duluth Trading.  I was assigned to the cash wrap and settled into my routine.  An older couple walked up to my register to check out.  I asked them the usual questions "Have you purchased from the store before?", "What is your last name and zip code?", the gentleman told me his name and zip code and then said it might be under his wife's name.  It was at this point I felt a gentle nudge, not physically but instead as if someone was wanting me to notice something. I looked at their names again and then it came to me.  I turned to the gentleman and said "Excuse me, but can I ask you something?" At this point one of my managers notices that I have strayed from the normal line of questioning and begins to listen in.  The man says "Um sure" I continue.  "A couple of years ago, did you and your wife send postcards and notes...and encourage your family to send postcards to a little boy with Down syndrome that was having hip surgery and would be in a body brace for 7 weeks?" They looked at each other and then turned to me and said "Yes, we did...his Mom was going to do a geography lesson with him". I teared up and said "Well, I'm that little boy's Mom...and Sam and I have wanted to thank you for doing that and tell you how much we appreciated it."  At this point, everyone was tearing up and I shook their hands and told them how Sam was doing and explained to them how I have tried to locate them to thank them.  I directed them to this blog so that they could catch up on Sam and...Jim, Jeannine...if you are reading this...thank you again for your kindness and know that your cards and postcards were so appreciated.  To the spirit that helped us connect, thank you for helping me remember the name of someone I had never met from 3 years prior, thank you for bringing them into the store and to my register so I could thank them in person.  This day was truly a testament to what a small world we live in and the power of spirit!!

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