Saturday, May 5, 2012

He's Never Let Us Down

We are HOME! Bran is cozy in his p.j.'s watching a movie, and it feels so incredible to all be together. I wanted to give you all an update, and please, pass this on to all the people you reached out to for prayer. We are so grateful, so grateful. We want to give glory to God for all that's happened this week.

As you know, on Friday things were not looking good. The Dr.'s told Matt that Bran's kidney function was dropping every day, his blood pressure was dangerously high, he was non-responsive to all the meds, and he was carrying over 10lbs of fluid, and it was rising each day as his kidney function was dropping. They thought they would have to move him to I.C.U. and begin dialysis to get the fluid out, and that would then help the blood pressure drop and get him into a safer place. The specialist expressed grave concern for him, and we were afraid, really afraid. By late afternoon, after Bran's dr. made phone calls to specialists in other parts of the country, it was decided to give him the second chemo treatment, and then wait to see for one more day.

Friday night my dear friend Tyler drove to the hospital for a late night delivery of a blessed icon of the Divine Mercy Jesus. A year ago Tyler's grandmother was sick and was told her life was basically over. This icon was loaned to her and told that it had been all over the world and that the people who lived with it for a while experienced healing in some way. His grandmother did recover, and although her health isn't perfect, she's living a good life long past when she was told she'd be here. When she heard about Brandon she told Tyler to bring the painting to us.

As I rode the elevator back up to Pediatrics, I read the words along the bottom of the artwork.

Jesus, I trust in You.

I wasn't feeling trust, I was only feeling fear. I said, "Well, I'll say it until I mean it." And I began to read that line over and over and over. I went back to the hospital room and Bran had woken up. I hung the icon on the head of Bran's bed, and lay down with him because he seemed restless. He'd been emotionally low all day, he seemed depressed, and expressed a lot of homesickness. I suggested we pray together, and told him I'd start, and he could repeat each part after me.

I whispered...

"I am healthy, I am healthy, thank You Jesus, I am healthy.

I am healed, I am healed, thank You Jesus, I am healed.

I am thankful, I am thankful, thank you Jesus, I am thankful.

Bran repeated each line, and then without a word just took over leading and I began repeating each line he said.

This was the litany/prayer he whispered...

I am blessed, I am blessed, thank You Jesus, I am blessed.

I am strong, I am strong, thank You Jesus, I am strong.

I am wonderful, I am wonderful, thank You Jesus, I am wonderful.

I am blessed, I am blessed, thank You Jesus, I am blessed.

I am courage, I am courage, thank You Jesus, I am courage.

I am loved, I am loved, thank You Jesus, I am loved.

I am light, I am light, thank You Jesus, I am light.

I am the stars, I am the stars, thank You Jesus, I am the stars.

I am the sun/son, I am the sun/son, thank You Jesus, I am the sun/son.

I am grass, I am grass, thank You Jesus, I am grass.

I am flower, I am flowers, thank You Jesus, I am flowers.

I am birds, I am birds, thank You Jesus, I am birds.

I am the breeze, I am the breeze, thank You Jesus, I am the breeze.

I am a dog, I am a dog, thank You Jesus, I am a dog.

I am the way, I am the way, thank You Jesus, I am the way.

I am the truth, I am the truth, thank You Jesus, I am the truth.

I am the life, I am the life, thank You Jesus, I am the life.

I am mighty, I am mighty, thank You Jesus, I am mighty.

I am water, I am water, thank You Jesus, I am water.

I am the tune, I am the tune, thank You Jesus, I am the tune.

I am the bread, I am the bread, thank You Jesus, I am the bread.

I am the Eucharist, I am the Eucharist, thank You Jesus, I am the Eucharist.

I am the chalice, I am the chalice, thank You Jesus, I am the chalice.

I am the tabernacle, I am the tabernacle, thank You Jesus, I am the tabernacle.

I am the Church, I am the Church, thank You Jesus, I am the Church.

I am the Lamb, I am the Lamb, thank You Jesus, I am the Lamb.

I am the family, I am the family, thank You Jesus, I am the family.

I am peace, I am peace, thank You Jesus, I am peace.

I am sleepy, I am sleepy, thank You Jesus, I am sleepy.

I am in heaven, I am in heaven, thank You Jesus, I am in heaven.

And then he was asleep. I lay there on his pillow, now soaking wet with my tears, and could not believe how holy the air in the room felt, and how at peace I was. I had the same sensation I'd had years ago at St. Jude's when the teens and I had an over-night lock-in on a carpeted area next to the glass-walled room where the tabernacle was. I remember laying there in my sleeping bag in the dark with my sleeping kids all around awe, feeling Jesus so close by, so physically present. I felt Him in that hospital room with Brandon and I, and I told Him, "I trust You, I trust You, I trust You..."

In the morning Brandon woke up bright eyed and full of giggles and good spirits. We went for a long walk in the hospital and just enjoyed each others company...and he needed to walk to help keep the fluid out of his legs. We went and played Wii in the play room for a while, and when we were heading back to his room he suddenly began to get sick. He threw up all over the floor and scared the hell out of me. I kept my cool, but this was really upsetting behavior for him...he's only thrown up once or twice in his life with us, and never from this illness. I got him into bed, and he sipped tea with honey until he said he was tired and wanted to go to sleep. He was shivering and upset. The nurse checked, no fever.

When he woke up several hours later, his blood pressure was down, he'd lost a pound since the night before, and the best...his kidney function was suddenly higher than the day before.

He was still not losing enough fluid, so they put him on a much stronger kind of med thru his I.V., and we waited.

After dinner that night I received a text from someone at our co-op, telling me a priest who's renowned for his healing ministry, was on his way to the hospital to see Brandon. I'd heard about him from several people over the years but had never met him. When he walked in the door of Brandon's room I was struck by his gentle voice, his beautiful, African accent, and that he seemed rather shy. He sat right down and said that God had told him to come, and so he came. He began to talk quite boldly about many different things...(including about several assassination attempts on his life over the years and how God had saved him repeatedly, and talked about the people who were brought back from the dead in the God can do anything...and one thing that jumped out at me was when he said,

"With out fear, Satan has no legs."

And he shared part of Job's story from the Book of Job where this is illustrated in the way that Job goes to offer sacrifices in the temple one night and he's worried about his kids and asking God to not let any harm come to them, etc..., and Fr. Ignatious said, "Fear is not worship." Job was acting in fear, he did not have his eyes on God, his attention was on his fear...and how fear is a foothold for Satan. He said Satan studies us, learns our weaknesses, and then hits us there...and how fear is a powerful tool he uses so that he can get our eyes off of Christ.

He told us that disease and suffering are not God's plan for us, that Brandon's illness is not God's will. That day God had told him Brandon was going to be healed, and he shared this with us. He then gave Bran the anointing of the sick, blessing his head, hands, and feet with holy oil, holding a crucifix against his forehead while casting out all sickness and disease from...and he named organ after organ, fingers and toes, each hair, finger nails, and on and on. He gave him the Eucharist, prayed over him some more, and then told him, "Okay. You are healed. God has healed you, Brandon. Have a good life."...or something along those lines...and barely shook my hand because he suddenly seemed shy again, and he was trying to walk out of the room without us saying anything to him... but I just grabbed his hand in both mine, so he had no choice...and basically that was it.

The next morning, Sunday, Brandon woke with normal blood pressure, having lost 3 lbs overnight, kidney function up even more. He's only 3 lbs away from his normal weight.

The Dr. came and said she was thrilled with his progress, amazed at the turn around, and felt that if he continued to pass fluid thru the day without the diuretic in his I.V., that he'd be going home today. When the doctor left his room, Bran looked up at me from his bed and said very matter of factly..."Well, strong prayers the priest said. He said God's healing me."

And here we are, HOME.

Brandon isn't in remission yet, but as of today his protein levels are dropping for the first time. As always, he is in God's loving hands. We don't know what the future holds for us, but we trust God to be in the middle of it with us. We also know that we will be surrounded by love and prayers and care, because this week we've had such a taste of what you are all capable of in the way of support...and the support this week has been mighty indeed.

We are grateful beyond words for all the love and prayers that have been poured out for our family. We have felt very carried, and in our moments of great fear we'd been reminded to keep turning our eyes back to Jesus. All week Matt said, "God has never let us down, never let us down...He's not going to start now."

Please keep praying for Brandon's healing, and for the wisdom of his Dr.'s.

On Friday another healer (and Catholic mystic), Brother Paul Miller, is coming to our home to pray over Bran. What a blessing.

God is good, all the time.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Followers Unite!

I have neglected this blog for quite some time! Enough is enough, Brigid. I will be checking in and speaking up on a more regular basis from here on out. I have missed the fun of putting thoughts on "paper" and getting feedback and conversation out of it. Let's talk!

At the top of my blog page, on the left hand side there is a spot titled "Followers." Click on that and you will be kept in the loop. I look forward to hearing from you guys...and it's time to send me some new book titles to add to The List. Also, when you read any of those books...make sure you post your review/reaction at my blog. The List has been an on-going favorite for quite a few of you, so your reviews will help us all decide what book to read next! :)


The Sure Thing

At 41 I'm finding that my bounce-back from a weekend jam packed with fun is not what it used to be. One of my best friends from my high school/college years came to visit this weekend. We had a reunion party planned for Friday night, he was going to be flying out the next day. He was in NY on business that week. But John lives in England with his beautiful family...and you know what came to a grinding halt this weekend. International flights did not exist with this volcano weirdness, so we lucked out and got to have John here all weekend. It was simply awesome for us, but I'm sure a little disconcerting for him as he waited in semi-limbo for word of flights, family news from home, and the impact this would have on his up-coming week of business meetings, etc.

I think it's been about 10 years since we've had a visit. John, Birgit and children have been living around the globe having tremendous adventures. While we had our 20th high school reunion a few years back, John was sending pictures of them all at the Great Wall in China. Amazing, no? was fairly surreal to have an entire weekend with my old friend. I looked at him at one point and said, "I just can't believe you are in my kitchen!" It felt so right, so normal, and so extraordinary, all at once. I realize that he has been frozen in time in my mind. Although he's been married for a long time now, I haven't really seen that part of his life. It's happened off my radar because of distance and the speed of life. Before this weekend, John was still a college kid to me...brainy, sharp humored, insightful, full of basically safe mischief and a tendency to want to corrupt us just a tiny bit...really the best combo of characteristics for a friend in my book. It was quite amazing to see the person I knew still existing in this very grown-up proud of his family, hard working, and just plain fun to be with. He was as easy to hang out with as he'd always been... a calming, peaceful energy always ready with interesting conversation and observations.

It's been an interesting come-down this week, after a weekend of spontaneous on-going parties and fun with many old friends and family. Monday I had a bit of the post-retreat-blues, minus the retreat. You know what I mean! I didn't want to come down from the mountain top, what can I say? I am feeling very alive though, as often happens when I have any time with old friends. It's hard to articulate, but it's like I get reminded of who I am. to say this...I remember who I was way back when; younger and full of passion for so many, music, grabbing life with both hands, diving into love with ridiculous enthusiasm, reading everything I could get my hands on, pondering the tough questions, looking toward the future as this great big unknown adventure. I have time with these dear old friends and it helps me see that person still very much alive in me. I feel energized, younger, full of more awe for the future unknowns...and a desire to grab this life with a little more adolescent boldness. I looked around my kitchen on Sunday, at the last-minute brunch party we all had wrangled together, and I felt just overwhelmed with gratitude. To have such rich history with so many people who I love and admire, truly admire! How did I get this lucky?

There is this sweet little vase on the window sill above my kitchen sink. I was looking at it on Sunday evening as I washed up the dishes from Sundays festivities. An artist has painted the lyrics to The Beatles Long and Winding Road, scrolling all the way around it. It's cool. It got me humming another song about life's long journey, a song that used to be pretty special to my high school gang. Indulge my tendency toward the melancholic as I hum an old Antioch song of ours...feel free to sing along... :)

There's a new world somewhere, they call the Promised Land. And I'll be there someday, if you will hold my hand. I still need you there beside me, no matter what I do...for I know I'll never find another you.

There is always someone who needs your help they say. And you'll be my someone, forever and a day. I could search the whole world over, until my life is through...but I know I'll never find another you.

It's a long, long stay by my side. If I walk through a storm you'll be my guide, be my guide.

If they gave me a fortune my treasure would be small. I could lose it all tomorrow and never mind at all. But if I should lose your love, Lord, I don't know what I'd do...for I know I'll never find another you.

Don't forget hugs!
Can someone collect the music books and turn off the lights?
Who's going to Friendly's?!

Monday, August 3, 2009

To Have and to Hold

This has been such a crazy, rainy week. The children would remind me each morning during our breakfast prayers that we needed to pray for good weather for Saturday. My brother Greg's big day was coming, we were so excited for his wedding to lovely Meridith we could hardly stand it! Each day we had lots of rain, lighting, thunder...very atmaspheric, but not hopeful for a soon-to-be outdoor family wedding. We prayed and prayed...and Saturday dawned spectacularly beautiful and sunny. Picture perfect wedding weather!

Pulling up to Maura and Seth's farm and seeing the tents all set large yellow and white striped tent for the dancing/band/bar area...additional white tents for dining, the buffet...amazing. There were white balloons tied along the fencing next to the road, people relaxing and greeting one another with cold drinks, music, and anticipation in the air. I spotted a new, lovely arbor in the shade under the giant tree, with a white runner leading to it from the house. I loved the look of the benches that Greg had made using long strips of wood and bales of hay. It looked like a scene from a movie. There was the outdoor "church", and it looked idyllic. When it was time for the wedding to start, everyone found a seat, or gathered around, and soft music wafted over the yard. Dried rose petals were sprinkled all over the runner, it was so pretty. Meri's brother walked his mother down the isle, and two cute young girls from the Sander's family followed in sundresses the color of fresh grass, carrying really gorgeous bouquets tied with ribbons. When Meridith appeared, the theme from Rocky began, and she beamed all the way down the isle on her fathers arm while we all clapped and cheered. Meridith was glowing and looking so gorgeous in her wedding dress. What a way to begin! The wedding itself was lovely, sincere, and touching...Mom and I (and many others!) were sniveling away during the vows. I had such a sence of how much love was flowing out and over the crowd, for Greg and Meridith, and how many prayers were covering over their journey to one another, leading to this day. The minister who married them had some wonderful things to say about the blessings of marriage, and the importance of faith and having Jesus in the center of your marraige relationship. You couldn't help but nod in agreement and grab your honey's hand...well, I know I did. It was a good reminder, inspiring, uplifting, and life-affirming. After the "You may kiss the bride!" moment, much to my shock and delight (I know I wasn't alone in this reaction based on the gasps, cheers, hoots and hollers that errupted) the Star Wars theme burst forth and the new Mr. and Mrs. Pooler walked up the isle together. It was the perfect combination of elements to create a sacred celebration experience.

The reception that followed this was much relaxing time to visit with people gathered from all walks of Greg and Meri's life. The food was scrumptious, all Italian yummies from Mama's in Mt. Olive. They did it up right, people. It was a hogatha of pastas, sausages, amazing mini calzones and wraps of all types, salad, stuffed mushrooms, you name it. We relaxed in the sunshine enjoying sangria (and an number of other delish drinks), laughter, catch-up visits and conversation...just awesome. Meg surprised us all by singing the song she'd written for Meri and Greg, and they danced to it as their first dance as husband and wife. It was beautiful, perfect. People had a chance to boogie down to fun live music as Greg, Shannon, Erin, Maura, and Art's band played fun and funky classic dance toons...and later Greg kept the party hopping with some expertly crafted party CD's he'd burned just for the occasion. A fantastic time was had by all. That evening a fire burned in the large fire pit and many of us gathered around for more chill time (because we hadn't relaxed enough, apparently!), to share more laughs, conversation and libations. Some of us headed home eventually, but there was much camping in the yard that night too, people had set up tents in the upper field. No one seemed daunted by the early dawn monsoon that swept in! I headed back to Budd Lake the next day, and most of the sisters, and Mom, gathered with Greg and Mer there to clean up and put away equiptment, etc. The cleaning took place in a major rain storm, but the when we finished the sun came out and made the whole yard glow. We gathered around one of the big tables with take out from the BLD (Budd Lake Diner)...everyone had grilled cheese on the brain for some reason...and stretched that meal into a long and relaxing celebration. With a little prompting we finally got the whole story of Greg and Meridiths courtship, we had never heard all the good details from Greg...he's such a man! None of us wanted that day to end, it was hard to say goodbye when we were all hugging and heading our seperate ways that evening. Why must all good things come to an end, I ask you?

It's experiences like this weekend that remind me of how rich this life is. Witnessing my brother, who I love so much, embarking on a new, anointed chapter in his life...having so much love for our new sister Meridith...celebrating their love and's all so good! This is what it's all, Jesus, sunshine, music, breaking bread together, praying for one another, witnessing and supporting one anothers milestones, taking chances and staying open to new adventures, gathering those you love in one place whenever possible, and always remembering that we have the opportunity to love one another, till death do us part...and beyond.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My Fool

"I must learn to love the fool in me...the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks proises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humilty, and dignity but for my fool."
~Theodore I. Rubin, MD

Hello, Imperfect Me

I've been thinking about the idea of perfection lately. For me, if perfection is the goal, then there is no hope. I mean, I always fall short of perfection, so if that is the end all be all, then I am in big trouble! I find this notion of peaceful imperfection so infinitely hopeful. If I can stay focused on just being present to the various seasons of my life, what a gift. I have such a sense of the chapters and seasons I've lived through thus far...why did turning 40 make me so introspective? Yeah, I know. You're laughing because you know I've always been introspective. BUT, seriously, this is a whole new level of introspection. Scary, huh? I was realizing the other day that such a big part of my journey has been growing into a place of being comfortable in all my imperfection, not in trying to grow toward perfection. Perfectionism stalls me, stops me in my tracks, haults my forward's like being stuck in quick sand. The more you fight it, the deeper you sink...but if you can just lean back and will be in a position where someone can help pull you out. "We can do together what we could never do alone." I remind myself of this all the time, and as I get older, it has so much more meaning for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Blowin' in the Wind

I can hardly believe how much time has passed since I was last here, writing anything.

What a physical and emotional whirl-wind 2008 was for us. Many good things happened in our world, some not-so-good things happened too. This was one of the most exciting Presidential races I've experienced in my life, I'm sorry we have to wait another 4 years to take that ride again. All I can say is, it's time to get pumped about local politics, people. Yeah, I'm a bit of a junkie at this point. Financially, we are living in uncertain, and very interesting times. I've discovered that when you don't have much, you don't have much to lose! Honestly, it's a relief.

We have walked away from our nightmare of a house, and we are free at last. I can't describe the onslaught of emotions this experience has produced. Joy, relief, gratitude, crushing sadness. Even when a dream that's been unreachable (and often and frequently hell) dies, there's still the grief over that lost dream. Having to throw our hands up and admit that this building has us licked...the problems here are so much bigger than we can took many years of learning for us to be able to say "enough. we quite. you win."
We can finally just live our life, instead of living in a state of waiting for the next disaster to fall...or leak...or explode. Getting used to falling asleep without the dread of what might befall our money-pit in the middle of the night (all disasters seem to happen after midnight) will take some time. This has been a lesson is surrender, humility, and trust. God has left His mark all over this experience, has answered our prayers so promptly and directly that it's left our puny brains reeling. I can't remember a time when we've been this happy.

For me personally, this has been a tremendous year of growth. January 10th, 2008 I walked into my first 12-step meeting. Who knew it would rock my world, change my life in ways I never, ever dared imagine. I am feeling happier, younger, and more whole and alive than at any other point in my adult life. Turning 40 a few weeks ago was a big milestone...and it feels really damn good! Is this what 40 feels like? Why didn't anyone tell me to look forward to it?!

On the eve of my 4-0 I did what I do every year...I took a moment to write down some thoughts.

Tomorrow I turn 40. I turn 40?! the total and absolute impossibility of that just stagger me. I feel like I'm somewhere in the my mid-20's. I am, aren't I? I don't know how to grow up. I'm learning. I'm just trying to do the next right thing at any given moment. That's the very best I can offer. The last 11 months have been the most surprising, challenging, awe inspiring, exciting...and so much more. I thought Program would help me, sure. I didn't realize it would change me - my relationship with Matt, the way I parent the children, how I see the world, how I see my parents and siblings, and especially how I see myself and my life.

Yesterday we moved into Pop's condo. Tomorrow I have a milestone Birthday. I am floored by the turn my life has taken - so much love, so many blessings, so much gratitude. I can see that we're in a new, TRULY exciting chapter in our lives. I'm ready to receive all the Grace that God is pouring into my life.
I feel like I'm standing in an open doorway with the breeze washing through...and I'm ready for the Holy Spirit to lead me into that breeze.

Thank you, Jesus, for all the incredible ways you are reveling Yourself to me in my life.
Your hand prints are everywhere, and all over me. I'm one abundantly blessed woman.
My hands are open, and already full.

As I've said before, my cup runneth over. Again. :)
Peace~in Christ,