Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 49

Dear Friends,

It is a lovely, warm, summer after noon. Susannah and Stephen are asleep in chairs near Rebecca and me. Phillip arrives in a few hours. He's been visiting friends in Sweden. We'll have tomorrow together before Susannah returns to the US on Thursday. Then Phillip heads back on Sunday. (Sweet sorrow!) It has been a wonderful time with the children.

It was suggested some weeks ago that Susannah write one of the Journeys. So here it is:

"Soon after my arrival someone said: 'Susannah, you should write a "Rebecca's Journey" while you are here'. I didn't feel inspired, to be honest, so I just smiled and hoped that the Lord would strike Mom with something really profound this month, and therefore bump me down the list of writers.

"Well it turned out that inspiration has struck - me! The other day when we were in garden ('yard' for our North American friends). It was time for dinner, so we began our ascent towards the house. I was walking quietly along beside Mom as she drove her wheelchair up the lovely pathway. All of a sudden she smiled and said: 'I'm going to go look at my Dahlias.' In one swift motion she veered off the path and started careening up the slope toward her bed of flowers in the corner of the garden. The incline in this particular spot is… well… like Mount Kilimanjaro. Her wheelchair soon stared showing sings of struggle, tilting in the air on the 2 back wheels. Now this is a smart chair, and it won't tip. So, to save her, the chair veered sharply left and began heading rapidly down the garden on all 4 wheels… straight toward a tree! Fortunately, Mom hit the brake device and saved herself from impending collision with the tree. Mother's response: laughter; my response: hyper-ventilation. This got me thinking about Rebecca's 'bumpy' Journey…

"On her bed Mom has a 'pull-sheet' under her. We can grab it, one on each side, and pull her up in the bed - very handy. (It's an old ICU trick we picked up.) One day, Stephen and Dad wanted to pull her way up in the bed. So, one on each side, they took the pull-sheet in hand. 'One, two, three…Pull!' And with the force of a battering ram they smashed her head into the wall behind her. Mother's response: laughter; Dad's and Stephen's response: horror stricken.

"One more quick one - but it's a good one! Mom has what's called an 'iron nurse'. It is a metal contraption that lifts her from the bed in a kind of vinyl swing that is placed under her, and then can lower her back down into the wheelchair. (Wow! What will they think of next?) Well, one day, Mother was merrily suspended in mid air between her bed and her chair when, all of a sudden, the iron nurse's battery died. The contraption would work no more. There she was, dangling in the air. We had to shove the iron nurse back over her bed, weasel her out of the sling, and try to
'delicately' drop her back down to safety. Mother's response: (you know) laughter; our response: relief we hadn't killed her in the process!

"So I guess my inspiration was of another sort this time. Life is never dull around the Petrie household, and there is rarely a shortage of laughter. I just thought I'd share a bit of that with you."

Paul again! Annie will arrive the day Susannah leaves and be here for the month of August. Rebecca's care for the autumn is sketchy and uncertain. Please continue to pray with us about this most important aspect of our new

Our love to all,


Saturday, July 17, 2004

Rebecca's Journey - 48

Dear Friends,

I'm once again sitting in Rebecca's room. Susannah, Phillip, and Stephen are here. Susannah arrived about 10 days ago. Two days later we (Susannah, Stephen, Rebecca and I) left for De Hanne, a town about 2 hours from here on the North Sea. The Belgian Health Service provides a facility near the beach where handicapped persons can vacation. The home has all the necessities: hospital beds, nurses, physical therapists, etc. The staff were very kind. Susannah and Stephen stayed in a B&B just opposite - with our two dogs. It was a joy to be away together for this week.

We were able to go to the beach for a while every day. Rebecca was on the boardwalk and thoroughly enjoyed the sea. She dictated some thoughts to Susannah, and I've entered three of them below:

Rebecca' reflections from De Hanne,

"...I have returned to the seaside. As I look out over the steely grey waters of the North Sea, hear the crashing of the waves, I realized I never dreamed that I would see the ocean again. These last years I have confronted death. At times I have struggled against it, and at others, wished to go beyond it into Father's presence. During such seasons, one does not consider the sea; one struggles just from day to day. Thoughts of soaring seagulls and children playing in the sand are far away. The other day when I arrived here at the board walk and looked out over the great expanse, You spoke, 'I am the Keeper of the sea.' Three summers have come and gone, and while I have fought and struggled, the sea was here, unchanged. And so is life! While one 'survives', another laughs and lives, and the waves go on, and You oversee it all.

Some months ago You challenged me to 'choose life'. Since that choice I have discovered again: my birds, the clouds going by, the daily joy and delight of my children's laughter, my husband's love, Your Word penetrating my soul, and now... the sea.

...I awakened early this morning to the squawking of seagulls overhead, and was immediately aware that we are here at the seaside.

We are staying in a hotel especially reserved for people with handicappes - and I am the most handicapped person here. I'm only able to be here because of my three gracious caregivers: my beloved Paul, and dear Susannah and Stephen. I am so thankfully aware each day that it takes all three of them - their labor and care, enabling me to have this wonderful experience.

Yesterday in the dinning room, as we made our way to our table, I noticed a small table in the corner that was set for just one person. Soon, someone laboriously made his way behind me in a walker. As he struggled with the table, the chair, and his walker, Paul offered to help him. He good-naturedly said, in French, of course: 'Oh, no thank you. I have no one to help me at home, and I must be independent.' As he settled in his chair, ready for his lunch, I couldn't help but look at him and smile. His face was etched - was it with pain? determination? Probably both.

Later we made our way to the elevator. I was struck by the realization that no one was in a hurry. And I thought: 'Of course not. If there is anything we've all learned is to be patient, and to wait.' It is a patience wrought in waiting.

...I have a large umbrella - a beautiful floral print. Paul knows I love it. One afternoon when we were going out in the rain, Paul grabbed the umbrella, and it was this beautiful one which he had brought with us to the beach. I was surprised because he usually brings his much more practical, black umbrella. I was blessed because I knew he brought it just for me. And the Lord spoke again, and said: 'If Paul cares to bless you with small details, how much more do I?'

And that is what our week was to me. The Lord, once again, revealing Himself - His goodness, His care, and His love."

Paul again! We all want to express our gratitude to Annie, whose insight, initiative, and hard work made this week possible. (Greatly appreciated, Annie!)

Since our return Phillip has arrived, and these have been delicious, treasured days together.

We need to ask your prayer support for the next season. Annie will come the day Susannah leaves (July 29) and be here until the end of August. Stephen will then head back to the US. Judy's son, Tyce, will be married this autumn (heartiest congratulations), so that will limit Judy's time here.

We are in real need of finding the Lord's provision for a helper/caregiver for Rebecca, and someone to help with the home. We know He knows, and that He has a plan. We appreciate your prayers as week seek His provision.

Our love to all,