Christmas Calamity and Christmas Peace 2015

I would have never put calamity and peace together. We still have a lot to travel on this journey. A lot to learn, to wait, to sift through, mountains and valleys. Psalm 23 comes to mind easily.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I SHALL NOT WANT.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He LEADS me beside still waters.

3 He RESTORES my soul. He LEADS me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

On Wednesday, December 16, my niece, Melissa Johnson, was driving to pick up her employers from the airport. She hit a pole, lost control of her  truck, it flipped twice, injuring her badly, leaving her without breathing. She was wearing a seatbelt, headed to pick up her employers, then to prayer meeting. 19, first semester finished at Indiana University South Bend, gifted with children, loved Minions, three older brothers.

25 Days later, Melissa’s condition remains unstable. She is out of ICU, breathing on her own. Her body will heal (broken leg has been operated on, bruises are fading), but how much of her mind and her cognition will return remains unanswered.

Joel, the kids and I drove to Indiana for Christmas to be with his sister, Kay and brother in law, Dave, and our nephews. Melissa did not wake up when we were there, but we wanted to be there to support the others.

This was a difficult time for me to face an ICU unit. The sounds, the IV beeps, the ventilator, the nurse suctioning her mouth, positioning her body. The smells of rubbing alcohol, the gloves, the IVs – yes, they each have an aroma.  I left each night GRATEFUL I could stand up and walk out, because during my transplant experience and relapses, I would shrink further into the bed every time my loved ones would leave. I would cry endlessly. I would watch the clock and listen to the clicks, listen to all the IV beeps in the rooms surrounding me.

Each evening we left the trauma center I had panic attacks beginning, quick breathing, tightening of the chest, pain down my arms, severe headaches. Guilt. Thankfulness. Growth, Recognition of what Joel, my parents, and my caregivers at Emory did for me.

Most of all, I left with an enormous amount of thankfulness for my donor’s family that gave me a 2nd chance on life. After 3 and 1/2 years, I finally wrote UNOS (United Network For Organ Sharing).

The first year, they don’t allow you to write. It’s too raw, too hard for the donor’s family and the recipient. The 2nd year, I’d had a relapse and had to go through rehab again.

We started family therapy, marriage therapy, I was depressed, had suicidal thoughts, was lonely. Many friends and even family members began to desert me, thinking I “should be over this, “or I “wasn’t thankful or joyful enough.” My second year was tough as people expected me to be the mom, housewife, homemaker, get back to exercise, fitter, stronger, faster — I had a heart that was 20 years younger. I should be a powerhouse!  But I wasn’t. Through the year, I progressed, our family progressed, and God revealed more of Himself and His Word.  He also blessed me with physical recovery.

It took seeing Melissa in a trauma unit for me to write to UNOS, having them to contact my donor’s family with my letter of thanks. I don’t know what, if anything, will come of it.

But I wanted them to know how grateful I am and how much it matters to Joel, Chloe, and Jack.

 

Why does everybody keep giving my kids junk food?

  
 In a society with impatience, instant gratification, entertainment, rewards, everywhere we go someone is eagerly trying to give my kids, 9 & 7, junk food.

  • Read for 500 minutes a month – earn a personal size pizza at Pizza Hut with 620 calories & 67 carbs, courtesy of Book It, a program encouraging young students to read daily.  
  • Say your Bible verse at Sunday school, earn a fun size of M & Ms , 75 calories, 3 grams sugar. 
  • Complete a music lesson, receive a kid’s handful of skittles (or comparable) for 25 cal or 4 grams of carbs. 
  • Study hard for 9 weeks at school, receive an Oreo milk shake, courtesy of Applebee’s at a whopping 840 calories and 100 carbs.  

Throughout the year, let’s take Valentine’s Day ( which used to be cheap little cards), Easter baskets, Halloween, Thanksgiving (or Bust A Gut Day), Christmas ( candy canes, candy, cookies, hot chocolate), birthday parties with grab bags filled with sugar. Really? This is how we reward ourselves and our children?

Every mom wants to be the mom at school who brings in “treats” because it’s a pick me up, it makes the kids happy, gets in good with the teacher. It doesn’t help a diabetic child, or a child struggling with their weight. It sets them apart even more than they already are.

Sugar is everywhere. The checkout line, the school, the church, retail. Has the entire country gone insane? Hot chocolate and donut holes at church while singing Christmas carols? A Christmas party with cookies, brownies, candy & juice boxes?

What would that same parent say if I offered their child a cigarette ? But it’s a “ treat” to give my children a full sized Oreo milkshake because they worked hard for their grades? Why are we rewarding with things that will ultimately destroy their bodies when it’s not a “ one time thing?” It’s every place we go.

And a 9 year old and a 7 year old cannot make long term decisions. That is why they can’t join the military, sign a contract, get married. They cannot understand long term effects.

With the epidemic of childhood obesity, please consider non food based rewards and treats like games, puzzles, dollar store items, certificates. For functions with food, such as a birthday party, offer cake or ice cream, not both, water bottles to drink. How about encouraging words? Instead of a personal pan pizza, credit to a book store?

Just like most people wouldn’t give out food containing nuts because some kids might have nut allergies, be aware that some kids may also have medical issues with sugar.