In His Arms

Almost every day I enjoyed the privilege of putting my granddaughter down for her nap. Sometimes we read a book (or two or three). Sometimes I would sing to her. Sometimes, both. Usually both.

I used to struggle with the verse, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Not anymore. Not since singing my little Clara to sleep. For some reason, when I began to sing to her, she would cease her fussing. She would settle her head into my shoulder and listen. I would feel her little body relax, her eyes would close and soon (sometimes later than sooner) she would be peacefully asleep. Sometimes I thought she was asleep and when I began to move her to put her in bed, in a sleepy voice she would say, “Keep singing, Grammy.”

And so, I would.

I was talking to a friend not long ago. A friend who has Parkinson’s disease and who was struggling. We do that every now and then, you know – struggle. I was trying to encourage her fraught spirit and we started talking about the verse above from the book of Zephaniah in the Old Testament. I told her about singing to Clara and then I told her what God has taught me through singing to my little Clara.

God tells us that He is with us. He has told us that He will never leave us – in our weariness, when we are burdened, weighed down, under pressure, stressed, under attack – you know – just plain wiped out physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. He has the strength and desire to save us from all that begs to destroy our well-being. Why? He delights in us. He derives pleasure in taking care of us. It brings Him joy and gladness. He revels in doing things – just for us.

He quiets us with His love… When Clara would lay her head down, I would rub her back and sing to her. She knows she is loved. A child will have difficulty falling asleep when they do not feel safe or loved and they feel safe when they know they are loved.

We are no different. We feel safe when we know that we are loved. We are able to rest – to lean into the Lord and let go of all the things that this life can throw at us. We can rest our head on His shoulder and know He will take care of us and in that, we find comfort and peace.

He rejoices over us with singing… What a picture this brings to mind. A newborn baby – being cradled in her daddy’s arms as he sings over her with an inexplicable love and inexpressible joy. This is how God looks upon His children and that, my friends, literally blows my mind. He knows us each by name and loves us with a love that is so unfathomable, we quite simply cannot comprehend it. He rejoices over us and delights in us with singing, as a new daddy with his precious newborn.

It’s funny. Clara is now 1,000 miles away and now I watch my little Finn. I read him the same books and if he hasn’t fallen asleep by the time we’ve read his 14 favorites, as I begin singing to him, he tucks his head under my arm and drifts off into a peaceful slumber. A beautiful picture of how God wants us to cast all our cares on Him and like a baby, sleep peacefully and safely in His arms, knowing we are loved.

The Stare

It’s bound to happen. You know – that dreaded moment when a stranger can’t stop looking at you because you can’t stop wiggling. If only you could sit down and put your hands under your behind, it’s likely no one would notice. But it doesn’t matter – you’ve been found out. You can respond to this moment in your life in a positive way, or you can get in his face and scream, “What’r you lookin’ at, dude?”

Well, it happened to me. The other day some friends took me to lunch. As we stood and waited to be seated, this man, about 50ish and also waiting to be summoned to a table of his own, just kept staring at me. Well, specifically my The arm. I was late in my meds and beginning to feel ‘off’ and it was more than obvious to those around me.

I didn’t say anything to him. Most people will just blurt it out. “What do you have?” Or better yet, “What’s wrong with you?”

So, I’m standing there, waiting. And I feel like someone is watching me and lo and behold, I’m right. Mr. Dude can’t stop watching my arm move around like a chicken with its head cut off. I usually have something on with pockets so that I can put my uncontrolled limb inside and no one is the wiser. Not this day – this day I had no pockets. I was on my own.

I’d like to tell you I walked over there and said, “I noticed you were staring as if perhaps I’ve been drinking. The fact is I have Parkinson’s Disease, like Michael J. Fox, except that I’m a girl and he’s not. If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them, Mr. Dude. Otherwise, I’d appreciate if you quit staring.”

I began clenching my hand as I find after a few seconds it relieves the tightening of the muscles enough that they let go and relax a bit.

That day, Miss Wimp let Mr. Dude’s rudeness get the best of her.

This is what I have to look forward to, I thought to myself.

The next day I went to the hardware store. I love the hardware store. I could spend the whole day in the hardware store. I was on the aisle where the lawn fertilizer is when I noticed a man standing nearby. He turned and looked at me. I kept looking to find what I had come for and I felt him look at me again and then noticed him walking toward me out of the corner of my eye.

“Have you hugged a Parkie today?” he asked inquisitively. I had my bright yellow PD shirt on with the shaky bear on the front and he read the caption outloud. “What’s a Parkie?,” he added.

“A person with Parkinson’s.” Straight and to the point.

“Oh, that makes more sense now.” He got his whatever it was and walked away.

Makes more sense? I mulled that over for a while wondering what he meant by that. Did he even know what Parkinson’s was? Was he aware that it was a disease? Did he think I was supporting the homeless people who hung around the park and was part of a campaign to make them feel loved, calling them ‘Parkies’ in the process?

Whatever he thought, he was like Mr. Dude and once again, I played Miss Wimp.

I mulled that over, too. The part of Miss Wimp. Why didn’t I say more? Am I embarrassed? Afraid? This is the conclusion I came to:

I don’t necessarily like talking about it. If your tremor’s out of control, it invites questions from well-meaning people who don’t understand. If your speech is below an auditory level, they don’t understand why you seem to insist on talking softly. I suppose I could give Mr. Dude and the hardware man the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they do understand and they care for someone with a disability or at least know someone who does.

I try and go easy on the dudes. I use to be a dude myself (in the sense that I thought of and reacted to people with disabilities as Mr. Dude did – stared) and I’m not really a wimp, as I will talk about my disease if someone is interested in listening. But what has happened since having PD, is that now I am not afraid to go up to the person with an obvious disability and ask them questions about how they’re doing.

A few weeks ago, I was walking into the supermarket and an older gentleman was in front of me. Then he fell. A younger guy sauntered over, followed by a little older guy. I was helping the man to stand back up and it was obvious he was embarrassed. The two younger guys left as quickly as they had come. I walked the man into the store. He was shaking like crazy on his right side. I asked him if he had Parkinson’s. He said he didn’t know as he’d never been checked for it.

Keep that incident in mind while I tell you about this weeks. I’m standing in line at the grocery store and the older woman in back of me is struggling to put her groceries on the belt. When I say struggle, that doesn’t begin to describe it. She’s hardly able to grasp the items with her fingers. I began helping her as the clerk began scanning mine. She was very appreciative and I asked her if she had Parkinson’s. She didn’t know what it was.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about those two incidences. Did they both have PD and yet, because of their ages the doctors figure there’s not a lot of options anyhow so why bring it up? I hope not. I told them both to go and get checked. If it is PD, whatever their doctors can do for them may make the last part of their lives a little bit easier. It’s times such as those that I feel this little monster (aka PD) has a purpose.

I guess I’m not so wimpy after all. But, I have my moments. Fortunately there’s a lot of dudes out there, so it balances out.

The Value of Brokenness

you
a fragile
piece
of pottery
knocked over
falling to the floor
that rises to meet you

you pull yourself up
another crack to tend to
another piece of pride to mend

you see the mess
you think
you’ve become
broken pieces
irreparable

you feel
every scab
every scar
every wound

He sees something
different
He sees something
beautiful
in every crack
in every crevice
in every break

you don’t become useless
because you have been broken
you become wiser,
you become stronger,
you become more beautiful

the cracks
that bring a humility
that draw others in
as they witness
a new beauty unfolding

imperfections
are being perfected
weaknesses
are becoming a holy strength
experiences
are bringing a godly wisdom

In Japan they call it Kintsugi
in essence –
the art of bringing more value
to something broken

God calls it
grace

faithful
enduring
steadfast

Grace