Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stepping Out With Courage

Saturday I drove from my son and daughter-in-law's house in northwest Arkansas to my sister's house in Jefferson City, Missouri. At this time of year it was a beautiful drive, as you can well imagine. But this post isn't about the scenery.

When I have a long drive I listen to a book on CDs...or try to listen. Sometimes my brain just won't turn off whatever tangent I happen to be on to concentrate on the book and that's what happened to me on Saturday. I was on my way to spend a week visiting with my aunt and cousin who were spending the week with my sister. They both need a lot of help and care - my aunt is blind and needs breathing treatments twice a day, and my cousin is a severe diabetic and on dialysis three times a week. And my sister has to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday so they needed help those days for sure. But this post isn't about them needing help.

A couple of days ago I told you about a classmate of mine who is semi homeless and who came to our reunion anyway. I thought that was one of the most couragous things I'd seen. But these two top even that. They were flying from San Antonio to St. Louis, via Houston, just to visit with us. Their courage is what this post is about.

One of them is completely blind and the other has very limited vision because of her diabetes. Neither of them is able to walk from the check-in counter to the gate or from the gate to the baggage area so they have to rely on the airlines to get them, in wheelchairs, from where they are to where they are going. And they are wheeled to the baggage area where they wait for us to meet them, simply trusting that we will show up. They hand over suitcases they can't see or identify easily to people they don't know and believe that those same bags will arrive with them and will be found for them. Now make no mistake, the airlines folks are wonderful - every one a hero for the way they treat them. The gentleman who brought them from the gate to the baggage area was kind and generous and helpful (Continental Airlines, by the way). But can you imagine yourself in their situation? Sitting in a waiting area in a wheelchair, unable to see, believing that you will be met by loved ones?

And to top it all off the plane had a small problem landing - the flaps wouldn't go down and they had a rough landing to put it mildly. I don't know much about planes but I think those flaps are a large part of what slows that plane down! According to them, the passengers cheered when they landed safely. They weren't afraid though because, "what's there to be afraid of? Either we get where we're going or if the plane crashes we get to go home with Jesus and both of those would be wonderful!"

At the reunion I mentioned in my previous post I overheard a classmate (Jack Sides) talking about riding a motorcycle all over the country (sorry Jack but I hate motorcycles and just can't help it) and he said, "Some people confuse breathing with living." While I am still scared to death of motorcycles I love what he said. It applies so beautifully to my beloved aunt and cousin. They embrace life. My aunt loves for us to describe the scenery or our houses or whatever we're looking at because she "can see it in my mind." She doesn't moan and groan about being blind. She runs her own business by the way (she's 70 years old) - a cafeteria in a state building. My cousin doesn't complain about the dialysis or the insulin shots or the sores that won't heal. They just do what has to be done and they have a good time doing it. Naturally they have to have a little help but they go shopping or out to eat or to family reunions and they do it with a grace that I envy. They get on a bus or a plane and they are excited and happy, not dreading a long ride. Everything about their lives screams courage.

What is it that makes some people embrace life and step out with courage and others retreat from it and hide under the bed, figuratively speaking? I don't know but I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts....and better still I'd love to read some other posts about people you know who exhibit this kind of courage.


Michelle said...

Again, Marlene, an awesome post. I love to hear your thoughts and perspectives. Yes, these people are graceful and heros. They teach us things and make us realize just how blessed we are. They take life as it comes. We all need to be thankful for each day, no matter what situation we are in.

Thank you, my friend. You have touched hearts today, again.
be blessed,

Janera said...

"Some people mistake breathing for living."

I love that, too!

Cornfield Quilter said...

I was so moved to read your account of these two special women. When I hear others complain or I start to feel sorry for myself, I will bring your aunt and cousin to mind and be thankful for my good health and just quit whining. I knew there was a reason I searched out your blog today. :D Hugs to you!

Lori said...

What a beautiful tribute to your relatives! I have seen courage first hand in the last year. Two years ago a woman in our small group was diagnosed with brain cancer. Surgery was performed, she was told she should live the time she had left. Instead, she retreated within herself, stop moving and doing. She is still alive two years later but is wheelchair bound, part by her just stopping and part by the cancer. She is basically waiting to die. On the flip side of that, another woman in our small group was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer a little over a year ago. Her attitude was that she was going to find Joy through the Lord in this journey no matter the outcome. She has been an incredible witness in faith to those around her. She has convinced herself to be positive even when 3 weeks ago she was told after begging for a PET scan (for closure for herself to prove the cancer was gone) that the cancer has returned. She is somewhat frustrated but once again convincing herself that she will see the blessing in all of this and not the bad. The moral of this story? Attitude is everything! Both of these woman are Women of Faith, but how you see your situation makes all the difference in the world.

Alice Grace said...

This post is also beautiful. I really admire your relatives for coping with their problems with such grace.........but I also see in you a grace of helping and of love. Your relatives are blessed in many ways, in their attitudes and their acceptance, and also in having a relative as caring as you.

OsageBluffquilter said...

Welcome to my town. And a few thousand others.
I so admire your relatives. No fear. How great that must be.
Have a great week!

Adrienne said...

Wow, these ladies put most of us to shame! I am always amazed at the courage some people have that goes way beyond a natural reaction to things that come their way. I have a dear friend in one of the care centers where I serve as chaplain. He is only in his early forties and has been a quadraplegic for more than half his life. He never complains about his limitations and he always cheers up those who are around him. Everyone loves him because he has a good sense of humor and enjoys life! If you ask him how he's doing, he always says, 'Great - because of Jesus!' And he means it. Thanks for sharing about your two dear ones. They are an inspiration.

Jacquie said...

Great post. Sometimes I think we let fear keep us from experiencing life completely. We can learn so much from others, can't we?

Grammy Staffy said...

What a wonderful tribute to your aunt and cousin. I am glad that you were able to drive to help your sister take care of them. They are blessed to have a loving and caring family and I am sure that you and your sister feel blessed to have them.

They sound like they sit a great example of faith and courage and good attitude. Like you, I wonder why some people are so full of these qualities and others are so lacking. Thank you for sharing their story with us. It is good for us to know of and follow their examples.

Have a blessed week. Love, Lura

Angie said...

Hi Marlene! Did you think I had disappeared? Not me, my dear! I am in a wheelchair and am deaf and - know what? - I am SO glad I can see. I don't know how I would cope with blindness

love, Angie, xx

Memaw's memories said...

What a moving post and tribute to your aunt and cousin. I just don't know if I'd have the strength to do what they do under similar circumstances.

They must be ladies of tremendous faith.

And I agree with your friend, most of us confuse breathing with living.

Carrie P. said...

Praying for you and your family.
Great story about your reunion friends. People like them amaze me too. But I believe that faith in the Lord is what truly makes us the kind of people we are. I don't know how some people who don't know the Lord get by in this world.

Anonymous said...

Great and thoughtful post...thanks.