Friday, July 29, 2011

Don's Talk

An earlier post mentions that my brother Don (who has Cerebral Palsy and is quadriplegic) gave his first talk in Church two weeks ago. Don's 41 years old. It's about time we got to learn from him!

He and my dad give a presentation each semester in one of the classes on campus at BYU-Idaho, so he's accustomed to an audience. I admit I was more nervous for him than he was. I kept giving him unsolicited (and conflicting) advice, like "Picture everyone wearing pink bunny suits" or "Just don't look at anyone" or "Just look at me and pretend we're having a conversation." He took it all in stride and let me be anxious for him (it was the least he could do for his over-protective sister).

But he didn't need my advice. He was perfect.

We, the audience, sat in silent attention, concentrating on listening to his voice as we read the words projected on the large drop-down screen behind him. Line by line, the words would appear so everyone could understand every word he said. More important than the words, however, was the hush that fell upon us as we felt the warmth of his spirit speaking to our own. Imagine my brother humbly reading the following words through the voice of a struggling body, but in a soul that stands tall, straight and strong:

Brothers and Sisters, it’s good to be here today. This is my first sacrament talk so I hope you’ll be patient with me as I talk about patience.

I think that all of us at times become impatient either with others, with ourselves, or with our own situation.

President Monson said, “Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions… forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.”

Does being patient mean that we just sit around and wait for something to happen?

President Uchtdorf said that patience is “the ability to put our desires on hold for a time.” But it is not “passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears.”

“Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow most.”

In Hebrews we read, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12: 1-2)

It seems like God has a personal education plan for each one of us, tailored to us individually and designed for our best good. But we don’t always recognize that, do we? Mother Theresa once said: “I know the Lord won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”

I hope you’ll be patient when you’re talking with me. Some people with cerebral palsy have to take a little longer to say the words that we want to say. It’s not that we don’t understand you, it’s just that our words have to go a different route to be expressed than yours do.

Back to patience- Can you think of times when it was hard for you to wait patiently? We pray and pray for something we really feel we need, or want but it doesn’t happen. Perhaps later what we want will happen, or it may never happen. The Lord knows when, or if, we need what we want. We need to have patience and trust in the Lord that He loves us and wants only that which is the best for us. Elder Maxwell once wrote that too much opening of the oven door and the cake falls.May we all increase in patience and faith,

I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Race Day - St. Anthony Pioneer Days Race

Here's a quick report on yesterday's Pioneer Days Race:

5:15 am - I woke up and got things ready.

5:30 am - I woke up the boys and got them ready.

6:00 am - I woke up...oh, wait, I was awake. But I sure wasn't feeling awake. Still sleepy, but functioning. The boys and I made the 15-20 minute drive to St. Anthony for the race check-in.

6:20-6:55 - Pre-race jitters. Talk about family bonding time!

6:55 - Sam and I left in a race official's car to drive to the 10K start. I did NOT like leaving Oliver behind all by himself. Luckily I knew a few of the other 5K racers and asked them to keep an eye on Oliver. That was tough, though. Jeff was home with the girls still because he was in charge of the Boy Scouts' Holiday Flag putting-up (what do you call that anyway? It was a holiday so the Scouts were putting up flags for the neighborhood).

7:10 - The 10K started (a little late, but okay). Sam let me run behind him for a few minutes, then I caught up to him and told him to slow down. I started in on my mothering-coaching lectures then zipped it. I realized he's a big boy, this was his race, and I'd best leave him be. He told me to go on ahead. I knew he'd run better on his own, so I picked up my pace to race-pace. I'd strapped a phone on his arm so he could call if he needed anything (oh, yeah, I'm a protective mom). I ran behind a college kid and used him as my pacer.

7:30 - The 5K started. I looked at my watch, knew Oliver was just beginning, and hoped he was doing okay. My unsuspecting college-kid pacer started slowing at around mile 4. I told him to keep going because I needed him to pace me. He made a valiant effort and kept our 7:40 pace until somewhere into mile 5, then he lost steam. I felt bad running past him, but I think he was okay with it. He just wanted to finish.

7:58 - I finished the 10K with an average of 7:46 minutes/mile. Since I've been recovering from injury over the last month and have only run once in over two weeks, I was okay with that time. Still, I kept thinking I could've run faster. I came in first in my age group and third overall. Since there were like less than 10 women, it wasn't that big of an accomplishment. Still, it was a pretty race.
My parents and Don (my brother) were there at the finish to cheer me in. It was great to have that support. Jeff was still stuck at home. I turned around to run back on the course and find Oliver. I found him just a little ways away from the finish, looking so good.

8:03 - Oliver finished. I ran a little bit with him, then he told me he was okay (I got the point - Let me run, Mom!). He sprinted SO fast at the finish. Awesome time, kiddo. I left him with my parents and brother, then turned back on the race course again to go find Samuel. I found him two blocks from the finish, running strong. I ran in with him a block, then he told me he was okay, too (once again, Let me run, Mom!). I short-cutted over to the finish to cheer him in. He also sprinted in the last bit.

8:19 - Sam finished his first official 10K. He's run that distance before (he's run a half-marathon before!) but this was the first race. He was great.

Mom, Dad and Don left once they saw we were all in. It was wonderful to have them there. Right after they left, Jeff and the girls showed up with donuts and milk. They made it in time for the awards.
Oliver got a finisher's medal (I think he was the second kid to finish the 5K, maybe first - we'll know next week when results are posted) and Sam got a placing medal (for first in his age group in the 10K. He was the only kid, and he passed some of the adult 10K runners), and then I got a medal for placing. I'm just happy that the boys did it and had fun. I'd be just as proud of them even if they'd come in last, or if they couldn't finish but had tried. The point is, I'm proud of them for doing their best. And I was happy that I was on my feet again after such a long time not running.

So it was a good race. My leg hurt, but it wasn't as bad as I'd expected. I'm in new shoes that are supposed to help me (apparently I over-pronate pretty badly, which I never knew). They should help me run without getting injured so often. I hope!

We went home not to rest, but to get on with life. The boys had lawns to mow, Oliver had soccer practice, the girls and I picked the first picking of raspberries, Jeff weeded and tilled the garden, and then it was lunch time. After all that, the kids and I rested with some afternoon reading and games, then outside play and yard work, while Jeff went on a bike ride. We finished the day with the kids getting to watch a show while Jeff and I went on a date.
What a great day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Buck up, Steph!

Jeff's at cancer camp this week as the camp doc. He and the camp kids and other staff get to float down the Salmon River all week. I wonder what it's like right now for him with the sun just setting and the day cooling off. I wonder if their campfire is burning low and if he's strumming his guitar while the river's flow sings in accompaniment. I wonder if the mosquitoes are buzzing, if the food tastes marvelous (doesn't it always taste better outside?), if the canyon walls have darkened their day early. I wonder if the kids feel the wonder of life and living, the beauty of the world around them, and if their senses (like mine) are heightened in the wild. I imagine the day was spent with laughter as the river carried them downstream, and the night is spent with stories and song as their bodies sink into rest.
I miss my Jeffrey. Funny how my daily living is really not that different with him out of town since he's so seldom home anyway, but just knowing he's out of reach makes me want to find him. I hope he's happy and helping the camp kids make great memories.
Meanwhile, life goes on here. Swimming lessons, soccer practices, soccer games, piano lessons, Cub Scouts, 11-year-old Scouts, birthday party (Sam's turning 12!!!!!????), and a race to get ready for Saturday.
A race? Oh, yes, a race. Oliver is running the 5K, Sam's registered for the 10K (although he may change his mind and do the 5K instead), and I'm signed up for the 10K. Not a big deal - except that somebody (me) is injured (again) and can't run. I haven't run for a week. That might not seem like a big deal to others, but it is to me. My sweet running partner is a Physical Therapist and has been helping me. My rotten leg, however, has not been cooperating. I've been on my bike more in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years as I try to maintain my fitness without ruining my leg. I admit that I now really like cycling. My longest ride (it's nothing compared to my husband's rides) was a 30 miler this week - and if I had had time I would've kept going. I've also had some good swims (including an open-water swim in my new wetsuit, which I don't like - I prefer my old one) and also am getting strength training in, and yesterday went roller-blading around the park so I could keep up with the kids on their bikes.
Still, as much fun as that all is, I do miss running. A lot.

So there you go. I miss Jeff. I miss knowing he's near enough that I could call if I needed. I miss having him come home to help tuck the kids into bed. I miss hearing the garage door open when he turns into the driveway.
And to a lesser degree, I miss running. I miss feeling my legs move me up a hill and my stride change to meet my goals. I miss watching the sun rise over the farmer's fields as I run run run.

Guess who's feeling melancholy?

My brother Don gave the most amazing talk in church today. Don is quadriplegic. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and has never been able to walk, use his arms, or speak clearly. Nobody has ever invited him to speak in church before. But Brother Kelly broke the unspoken rule and asked him to do it. What a wonder it was.
"This is my first sacrament meeting talk ever," he began, "so I hope you'll be patient with me as I talk about patience." The congregation was hooked. You could have heard a pin drop during the next few minutes as Don's spirit spoke to ours, even when his voice was difficult to understand. He sat up front, off to the side, with his computer to read from and my dad holding the microphone for him. Fortunately, his words were projected onto the drop-down screen at the front of the church so we could read along, one line at a time (power point is awesome!) as he talked about learning patience, including how he has to be patient with his body's limitations.
Patience with a body that doesn't work and a mind that knows, and a life destined to be single until the next life...
I suppose I can be patient with my leg that hurts a little. I suppose I can be patient with missing a spouse that I at least have home sometimes. I have every reason to be grateful for what I have.
Oh, my, I have so much to learn.