Thursday, September 27, 2012

Escape to the Mountaintop

(We watched an artist paint this in about 3 minutes.)

Last Thursday was a low point.

That morning, Mother passed out and did a face-plant in her apartment. An 85-year-old landed squarely on her chin.

I didn’t find out immediately. It wasn’t until a caretaker came by later to check on her that we knew. By then, Mother had ‘come to,’ gotten herself up, and was sitting in a chair with a paper towel on her chin to soak up the blood. As soon as I took a look at the gaping cut, I knew we were hospital-bound.

I believe I’ve mentioned how I feel about hospitals. I’ve spent way too much time in them for my own good. As my physician father always said, “A hospital is no place for a sick person.” Or a well one, unless you’re paid to be there. Hospitals bring back terrible memories for me. (But I am still grateful for them. My child’s life was saved in one.)

Of all my least favorite hospital experiences, the Emergency Room is #1.

I could write a book about some of our family’s times in the ER. I don’t know if it would be a comedy or a tragedy. Maybe a tragicomedy.

We were there for 10 hours. Mother had fractured her jaw and a broken a bone in her face.

By the end of the day, we had answered the same questionaire four times.

Hospital Employee: “Do you smoke?” 
Mother: “No.”
H.E.: “Have you ever smoked?” 
Mother: “Weeeeell, I have smoked before.”
H.E.: “For how long?”
Me, starting to lose it: “A couple of cigs in the ‘50’s. Like 60 years ago.” (Impatient   eye roll.)
H.E., plodding along: “Do you drink alcohol?”
Mother: “Ummm. Yes, I do drink.”
H.E.:How much?”
Mother: “Let me think. (pause, pause, pause, as she calculates)
Me, losing it: “Maybe half a glass of red wine per week for her heart! Now will someone please sew her up?”

(The worst was when we were finally admitted to a room upstairs. The English-challenged nurse added this question to the list: “Have you ever been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, anything like that?”  “No,” Mother answered. “Yes,” I emphatically, but silently, nodded behind her back.

“Yes? No? Which is it?” demands the nurse.

I give her the evil eye.

I got home after 11:00 p.m., certain that I would YET AGAIN have to cancel a long-awaited event because of Family Emergency. Whenever I pre-purchase tickets for anything, there’s about a 15% chance I’ll actually get there. I was scheduled to attend the Women of Faith conference in Atlanta over the weekend with a group of ladies from my church.

My loved ones can tell when I’m about to slip over the edge. My husband said, “You’re still going.” Very definitive. My sister said that she would come over and spend the night with Mother Friday night. “You need to go.”

Mother was finally released from the hospital around 2:00 p.m. on Friday. I helped Kelly get her settled, then high-tailed it home, threw some things in a suitcase, and rushed to pick up the two friends I was riding with. Their days had been about as bad as mine. One had received sad news just before I got to her house, and then continued getting bad news texts up until the time we entered the Gwinnett Arena. Her husband of 30 years has decided he’d rather be with someone else, and there is constant painful fallout from that.

The drive there was nerve-wracking, we had trouble finding the hotel, and we finally gave up on finding the restaurant where we were supposed to meet. The three of us grabbed something to eat at the first place we could get into, and finally got to the Arena after the lights had been turned off and the music started. I was thinking the whole thing might have been a bad idea. My friend was depressed and anxious. My nerves were shot, my heart was racing. I felt achy all over. Plus, I don’t do well in crowds. Enemy Forces were working overtime.

Based on the law of averages, I assumed we’d be somewhere up in the nosebleed section. But ushers kept shining their flashlights on our tickets and directing us to go down through the crowd of 13,000 women. Down, down, down…

...until we were on the floor in front of the stage, about 6 rows back. Two platforms extended diagonally from the main stage. Our seats were directly next to one.

Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, Mandisa. Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Brenda Wagner.

Up close and personal.

(Sandi Patty and Brenda Warner about two feet away from us.)

Need I say what a mind-boggling mountaintop experience it was? 13,000 women praising the Lover of their souls. Inspiring testimonies from imperfect people, rescued by the One who loves them perfectly. Magnificent music. Beautiful ballet. Inspiring art. A feast for eye, mind, and soul.

We floated out of there Saturday night, limp with joy.

Back to the valley, where fresh heartaches and challenges await.

For the time being, it’s not possible to live on the mountaintop. We are transported there briefly for times of renewal, refreshing, and revelation.

Throughout scripture, the mountaintop is where God reveals himself. Moses received the gift of the Law on Mount Sinai. The transfiguration of Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, the commissioning of the apostles were all mountaintop experiences.

We are figuratively closer to God on a mountaintop than anywhere else on earth. We see Him more clearly there. The challenge is to bring that clarity of vision back down with us into the muddy mess of life in the valley.

Hopefully, the revelations we receive on the mountain will change us in some way. Leave an imprint of divinity. Give us hope in facing the perils of valley-dwelling. Remind us that the valley is not our natural habitat. Give us glimpses of our future home.

May the fresh mountain wind of the Spirit sustain us, and give us strength for the journey there.


 “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”
(Revelation 21:10-11))

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,

a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,

the sheet that covers all nations;

he will swallow up death forever.

The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;

he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.

The Lord has spoken.”

(Isaiah 25:6-8)


Anyone else struggling to keep a mountaintop perspective while living down in the valley? Want to share ways to keep an eternal perspective?

I want you to know how much I appreciate each and every comment. Each response is a blessing, and adds to the experience for all of us. I wish I were able to respond to each of you personally, but I’m kind of just hanging on by the skin of my teeth right now. Maybe one day, God willing, I will become that kind of blogger. In the meantime, I want to thank you dear readers for your unconditional encouragement and support. (Hi, Amie’s sorority sister!! Go Rebs!)

I am having my cataract surgery re-done next week, so I may be out of commission for a bit. But I’ll be back!


p.s. Please check out the Women of Faith website here.  The testimonies of both Sandi Patty and Brenda Warner (wife of NFL player Kurt Warner) were particularly moving and inspirational. You can purchase their books on the website if you’re interested. Actually, all the speakers and singers were all great! Their products on line, too.


Anonymous said...

"May the fresh mountain wind of the Spirit sustain us, and give us strength for the journey there."


I hope your surgery goes well.

-- Em

The Retarded Mother said...

You must know how much I (and ALL of us) love it when you post. Truly inspired...and inspiring for me. Thank you, Kim. Always...thank you. Marianne

Anonymous said...

hi Kim- I love that you are blogging again! I've been praying for you! How wonderful that your sister and Brooks "made" you go to that conference. I just read about Brenda Warner, I did not know her story and now I'm glad I do! For about 20 years I have avoided going to any sort of christian conference/rally or retreat (unless it was something directly related to my church and it was a time to further relationships with my very important church family). I started having a hard time with the "coming down from the mountain"part
and I wasn't sure what I was doing there?

Probably I'd get more out of these things now? I don't know? But I'm glad to know more about these women's stories. I'm glad you went.

I'm so sorry about your mom. But I must say, you are my hero. I want to be like you when I grow up. You are a GIVER! you give and give and give and your life is a witness even if you never write a word on this blog! Phil 1:3.
You are loved!! bless you, Michelle

Cheri said...

I'm so glad you were able to go to Women of Faith. I went to Beth Moore's Living Proof in December, a week after my mother came home from the hospital on hospice. I also went at my sister's insistence. I was so thankful I listened to her.

I know it seems like the trials never stop. Life continues with all its changes. The way you handle them encourages us all.

Anonymous said...

I hope that you're recovering comfortably. This isn't relevant to this post, but the pictures from the family wedding on the other blog are lovely. What a great idea to have an "outdoor" wedding inside. Take good care. Hopefully you still have some of that mountaintop feeling with you.