A Hard Road Home (Part Four) Blessings


 

A week before I took my blizzard stroll, there had been a birthday party—another grand parental blessing day, when Will, our first grandchild, turned five.  His mother, Amy, has a special gift, when it comes to birthdays; they are never an afterthought.  This year’s celebration was themed for Thomas, the Train, and the house was decorated with colorful train crossings, and tracks, made from electrical tape, winding through the carpeted rooms and on the wood floors.  That turned out to be not such a good idea, when the floor finish came up with it, but if that’s the worst that happens while making memories, life is good.

The cookies, too, were decorated like crossing signals, and then, there was the cake.  Fresh from the rush of Amy’s family’s annual Gingerbread House Derby, Amy poured herself into creating a cake in sections.  The train engine, she labeled “Seth and Amy”.  The second car was “William”.  The third was “Katrianna”, and the caboose said, “Under Construction”.

Caboose?  I didn’t see the cake at first, but Sandy did, and said, “Amy?”

Amy smiled, and nodded.  “We just found out, and we’re so happy.  We gave away all our newborn stuff when we moved though, so we’ll be starting all over.”

Sandy took me aside, and said, “Did you see the cake?”

“No, why?”

“The last car says, ‘Under Construction.’”

“Yeah?” I said, clueless.

“Amy’s pregnant.”

“You’re kidding?……. What’s that got to do with the cake?”

“She put these little signs…Oh, just go look at it.”

So, after being clued-in by my wonderfully observant wife, I too gave Amy a big hug, and joined in congratulations all around.  But, my heart was with Shalom. First, her sister, at Thanksgiving.  And now, her sister-in-law……again!

None of us would bring up childbearing (or adoption, for that matter) with Shalom, unless she brought it up first, and then we would mostly just try to listen, and not offer suggestions, or fixes.  But, at the same time, she seemed to project such outward joy each time others were blessed, and they were bypassed.  They had determined for themselves that they would not shrink away as victims, but embrace the life of the families to which they belonged.

“Oh, Lord,” I prayed silently, “Won’t you, please, bless Shalom and Chris with a child of their own? Surely there is one out there that needs their love.  They seem so ready.  Even so, Lord, make them strong.”

A week later, when I was struggling in the storm, the vision of my two unborn grandchildren was one of the visions that sobered me to press on for two and a half hours, without stopping.  I never, ever, felt like I was in any grave danger, but when you’ve overstepped any endeavor you’ve tried before, and know that you not prepared for anything truly unexpected, there is a little core in your being that you silence, and will not allow to speak, that wants to say, “What if…”

I’ve known the adrenalin high of a choosing to be in the front of a raft, on a class IV rapids, of experiencing the exhilaration of the point-of-no-return, where the raft tips over the edge of the highest wave and plunges straight down into a swirling vortex, and your only choice is to reach straight ahead into the abyss, and paddle.  A blizzard is not that kind of exhilaration.  On most of the things with which we dare ourselves, others have gone before. The danger is there, but it is not unknown.  It is calculated, and proper equipment has been employed.

There is a machismo factor to the unknown, that grunting, can-do, tough guy syndrome, but a blizzard is not a novel.  There is no plot that says, after the tree fell, and he broke his leg, the hero crawled through the brambles, swam with his arms in the icy river, until he went over the waterfall, crashed on the rocks, avoided the bears, caught salmon with his bare hands, ate it raw, sucked snake venom from his own leg, made a splint from tree limbs, navigated by the stars, …..and survived.

The belief that we are somehow invincible is not limited to the young.  I knew, for instance, that no one had “rescued” me; that I would have been fully capable of finishing the last quarter-mile on my own.  I knew that that hardest part of the journey was the earlier ascent through the snow in near total darkness, and I had triumphed in that endeavor.  But, that was not the point, and my wife knew it.

Sandy’s Page:

 

Sandy Kabala Why do some people stubbornly stick by their decisions, even when others try to tell them they were not wise?  Especially when those decisions could affect many very adversely.

February 7 at 2:06am · Like


Shalom Kabala Schultz Pride goeth before a fall.

February 7 at 7:28am · Like


Sandy Kabala  Yes, and often we take others with us when we fall.

February 7 at 9:23am · Like

Sandy Kabala Deference to someone’s reasonable request is not weakness, it is wisdom, because it opens a heart rather than disregarding it.

February 7 at 9:59am · Like

Mike Kabala It’s a little thing called free will. We can’t force other people to think like we do, even when it’s for their own good.

February 7 at 11:09am · Like · 1 person

Sandy Kabala Free will exercised in indifference to others’ concerns or needs is called selfishness.

February 7 at 4:28pm · Like

Mike Kabala True, but lack of free will is called slavery … or prison. When a person exhibits selfishness in his exercise of free will, we can pray that the Holy Spirit speak to his heart, but we must be patient and let God direct our actions.

February 7 at 4:50pm · Like

********************************

People who think they know everything

 are especially irritating to those of us who do.

“You think you’re always right.”

“No, I always think I’m right.  There is a difference.”

“You never think you’re wrong, then.”

“I’m not wrong.”

“See what I mean?”

“I could be wrong, but I’m not.”

“Same difference.”

“How many people do you know that go through life, saying, ‘I bet I’m wrong.  I bet I’m wrong’?”

“You’re missing the point.”

“Which is?”

“People love you.  You’re not listening to that.”

Here lies the body of William Jay,

Who died maintaining his right-of-way.

He was dead right, as he sped along,

But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.

It bristles a man to think of “settling”.  We want to do things, to be approved, recognized, and made to feel significant.  Mostly, though, we want to be right.  Unshackled.  In our drive for  independence, we dismiss others, and their feelings.  It is nothing new.  King of the hill stuff.  Grunt, grunt!  But, we also have thisManCavething we do, wherein we process life’s experiences.  Over the next several days, I did some internal reflecting, attempting to balance independence with responsibility.

Poring over the many Facebook posts, regarding my adventure, I noted that the consensus among friends was “You da man!”  But, the consensus among family was “Please don’t do that again.”  Surely, there had to be a bridge somewhere.

I was reminded of one of the most memorable passages (to me), from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, where he chose to NOT prove he was right.

**********************************************

I was attending a banquet one night… and…the man sitting next to

me told a humorous story which hinged on the quotation “There’s a

divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”

(He) mentioned that the quotation was from the Bible. He

was wrong. I knew that, I knew it positively. There couldn’t be the

slightest doubt about it. And so, to get a feeling of importance and

display my superiority, I appointed myself as an unsolicited and

unwelcome committee of one to correct him. He stuck to his guns.

What? From Shakespeare? Impossible! Absurd! That quotation was

from the Bible. And he knew it.

The storyteller was sitting on my right; and Frank Gammond, an old

friend of mine, was seated at my left. Mr. Gammond had devoted

years to the study of Shakespeare, So the storyteller and I agreed to

submit the question to Mr. Gammond. Mr. Gammond listened, kicked

me under the table, and then said: “Dale, you are wrong. The

gentleman is right. It is from the Bible.”

On our way home that night, I said to Mr. Gammond: “Frank, you

knew that quotation was from Shakespeare,”

“Yes, of course,” he replied, “Hamlet, Act Five, Scene Two. But we

were guests at a festive occasion, my dear Dale. Why prove to a

man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let

him save his face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it.

Why argue with him? Always avoid the acute angle.”

**********************************************

            I got it.  The issue wasn’t that I had been trying to prove myself right, at all.  It was that I had been trying to prove everybody else wrong!

I stopped focusing on the bravado theme, of “I didn’t need anybody”, and began considering, “You know what?  Maybe they need me.”

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

               —John Donne

Amy’s Page:


Amy Christine Kabala  Somebody wore herself out this morning.

Mobile Uploads

Like ·  · February 2 at 3:48pm via mobile ·

Mike Kabala and 3 others like this.

Barbara LaTour She’s so adorable!!!

February 2 at 4:05pm · Like

Randin Joy Turner Sooo cute!!!

February 2 at 5:22pm · Like

Shalom Kabala Schultz What was she doing?

February 2 at 8:08pm · Like

Amy Christine Kabala She and Will were running around like crazy people all morning playing. When I came back down from taking a shower, she was asleep.

February 2 at 8:20pm · Like

Ann Schipper So precious!!

February 2 at 9:55pm · Like

Andrea Downing Mullins Oh my word, Amy – that is a precious picture!

February 3 at 8:08am · Like

Sandy Kabala She’s my little sweetheart all curled up!

February 3 at 8:15am · Like

Amy Christine Kabala  Taking an afternoon nap is impossible with a five year old and three year old running around…unless that is you are into two second naps. 😦

Like ·  · February 7 at 1:21pm via mobile

Seth Andrew Kabala and Alexis Anne Gilbert like this.

Alexis Anne Gilbert I hear ya. I babysit for a four year old and a 2 year old and I feel like naps are never going to happen for me. I hope that you get one and that the kids let you soon.

February 7 at 2:12pm · Like

Heather Karl Put in a movie!

February 7 at 3:08pm · Like

Ann Schipper I used to do story time and when we all got comfy, we’d fall asleep!! I miss those days!!!!

February 7 at 3:40pm · Like

Amy Christine Kabala Heather – I thought about that but felt too crapy to get up…I’ll have to just bite the bullet next time. 🙂

Ann – I wish that would work with our kids…unfortunately, they just keep going back for more books until my voice wears out. 🙂

February 7 at 4:28pm · Like ·  1 person

Heather Karl Too crappy to get up to put in a movie…wow, you are sick!

February 7 at 4:34pm · Like

Sandy Kabala Amy, I would like to take the kids for a couple of days so you can get some rest. I remember those days when I was pregnant with Lexi. Shalom was 4 and Seth was 2. Let me know, ok?

February 8 at 9:12am · Like

Amy Christine Kabala Sandy – Thanks so much.  It will be nice to sleep in and relax.  How about this coming weekend? 🙂

February 8 at 11:01am · Like

Sandy Kabala My pleasure.  We’ll talk.

February 8 at 11:02am · Like

 **************************************

Grandpa K poured himself into the weekend with the grandkids.  I love to play with them “at their level”, so they are not always looking up at me.  Get down on the floor (literally down-on-the-floor, so your eyes are not above theirs), and see how the change in perspective changes your perspective.

Sometimes we’d send toys home with them, but other’s had to stay at our house, so they would have to visit.  Giant waffle blocks and Lego people (having survived twenty years of sibling-cousin adventures) would stay here for the next generation of imagination exploration.  And, they were always used. 

There is a mobile of the solar system in my office, and a remote to make the planets rotate.  There is a floor-standing globe that lights from inside.    There is a recumbant exercise bike.  Balancing one child on one foot, and the other on the other, Grandpa pedaled, and “started the rocket ship”.  Little bodies bounced, and bobbled, and wiggled, and giggled, and hearts were laughing.

Spinning the globe, I sang, “Round, and round, and round we go.  Where she stops, nobody knows.”  Then, I brought down my finger somewhere on the globe.  “The Sahara Desert!” I cried.  “Have you ever been to the Sahara Desert?”

Then we stopped for a while, and played ‘desert’.  “Oh, it’s so hot!  I’m thirsty!  I’m melting!  We’d better get back on the rocket ship.” 

And, we were off again.  “Round, and round, and round we go…”  It was not the most original tune or phrase, but once I started it, I was stuck with it.  Every time I tried to change it, I’d be reprimanded. 

“No, no, no!….not that!….round, and round, and round we go…”  So, round and round it was, over, and over, and over again.

The intent of the ditty served its purpose, however.  It gave me a frequent break from the constant pedaling of a bike, with a child on each foot.  Soon, we’d been from the Sahara, to the Amazon, to the Outback, to the Alps, and back again to Iowa (…in the summer).  Soon, we progressed to leaving the rocket, for brief explorations (and more rest), enlisted the assistance of variety of stuffed animals, and began interplanetary travel by starting up the mobile.

“Have you ever been to Neptune………?”

Then, Sandy came to my rescue (hmmm, did I just say that?).  She decided we should all make home-made Chef Boy-ar-dee  pizza for lunch.  She had laid out the ingredients for a hands-on experience.  Oil the pan, knead the dough, spread the sauce, and complete it with the “home” touch—a giant bag of pepperoni and a giant bag of extra mozzarella.  Grandpa’s job would be to take pictures.  Grandpa was glad. 

After lunch, there were snow forts to build, and tunnels to dig.  And more pictures.  And more memories.  And connectedness.  And awareness.  Thankfulness.  Love.  Time.

Sandy’s Page:


Sandy Kabala It is so wondrous and exciting. All these little lives that God has entrusted to us.

February 14 at 10:16am · Like ·  1 person

Sandy Kabala added 18 new photos to the album Cooking with Will and Anna.

Cooking with Will and Anna

What better thing to do, on a cold winter day, than to learn to make PIZZA!

Like ·  · Share · February 13 at 6:54am via KODAK Share Button ·

Angie Franklin likes this.

 

On Sunday, after church, we took them back to Seth and Amy…….who were rested.   We couldn’t stay, as we usually did on afternoons like this, because we had been invited over, by Chris and Shalom, for Sunday dinner.  What a weekend this had been.  This year would be plenty busy with the arrival of two more precious heritages.  We’d been praying for some time that the road to adoption would be cleared for Shalom and Chris.  Perhaps they were planning an announcement of their own.  But  I remember imagining specifically that day, that wouldn’t it be nice if only Shalom could ….   Oh, Lord, bless this couple, I pray.

Shalom enjoys decorating, and Chris enjoys cooking, and together they create a unique ambiance for their visitors.  Good food.  Good company. 

And then, there are their dogs.  Frisky does not describe Drago and Kane, a pair of huskies, one brown and white, one black and white.  They have boundless energy, when they are released from their basement confinement and allowed to check out the visitors.  It’s one thing to watch an excited beagle or terrier bouncing off the walls of one’s home.  It’s quite another to experience two fifty pound huskies leaping, wagging, sliding, and twirling, and never knocking over a single thing.  They are amazingly aware of their surroundings. 

Drago is a master magician in the art of stealing people food without leaving a trace of what has just happened.  Kane has a high-pitched “I’m excited” bark that could probably shatter glass.  They both have mastered the fine canine art of the you-are-going-to-pet-me stare, and its companion, the paw-of-reminder.  For Shalom and Chris, they have been their babies for many years, and they run the place, or so they think. 

But, this day, they were not allowed upstairs.  After dinner, I was lounging under the warm yellow glow of a winter sun filtering into the living room, when Shalom said she wanted us to listen to a recording on her cell phone.   She began playing it.  I have ears that have struggled since grade school, and her recording sounded to me like a few muffled voices, lots of static, and a rhythmic pattern that sounded to me like old bedsprings. 

“Hmmm, I wonder where this joke is going,” I thought.  Over time, I have assembled a whole catalog of things I’ve said after I misheard something, such as when she told me she had gone to the “park and saw” the Wilhites, I responded with, “Who’s moving to Arkansas?” 

But, Sandy was straining to make it out too, as I looked to her for a clue. 

“Alright, bed springs,” I said, taking the bait, if it was a joke.

“Bed springs?  No. Wow,  you guys are as bad as my mom,” said Chris. “When we played it for her over the phone, she said it sounded like a helicopter.”

“What do you think, Mom,” said Shalom.

“I… I’m not saying,” said Sandy, practicing advanced sensitivity training.

“You’re just afraid to say it, aren’t you?”

“Maybe,” said Sandy, beginning to form a smile.

Then, Shalom turned to me, and said softly, “It’s a heartbeat.”  As I cupped my still clueless ear closer to the phone, she added, “…a baby’s heartbeat.”

My heart skipped.

My hand reached instinctively to cover my dropping jaw, and my eyes began to leak.  The magic of that moment of recognition is as precious to the hearer as the joy God must feel over each moment of conception. 

How long have you known?  Why didn’t you say anything? You mean, you knew at Christmas? 

We were afraid, after wanting something for so long, and being denied.  We were afraid of being too overjoyed.  It’s like you think maybe God has been mad at you all these years, and now He’s relented.  You think—you know it’s wrong, but you think it—you think, maybe if you’re too happy, God will take it away, and your pain will be too great, if you’ve already invited others into your celebration.  And so, we kept it to ourselves.  But, it’s real.  It’s really real.

And then, she turned to me and said, “Do you see now, Dad, why I was so upset with you for walking home in that blizzard?  I want my baby to know his grandfather.  You’ve known our struggles, and you’ve known your daughter’s sorrow, and you’ve been there.  You’ve both been there.  If you had died…” her words began to choke, “you would have never known…”

With that she came over and sat down, with a box full of tissues, and we cried.  And we hugged.   While her cell phone “I’m pregnant” announcement had needed a little extra to get through the line of consciousness, this “you would have never known” moment was priceless.  The tissues were soft, and this man, whose eyes leak watching reruns of the Andy Griffith Show, needed them all.

 

Life, as human relationship, begins when we are first aware, and ends only when we hear.  If someone passes, but we don’t know, they are yet alive.  For such is the best measure of a human life; that it be measured in relational time, instead of chronological time.  This is why we remember those we love, or have loved, not by birth and death, but by where we were when we found out.  This is why we remember the good times. 

This is why the legacy of a diary or a journal is of such value to the ones left behind.  They are the treasures of life.  Imagine losing someone very close, only to discover that they had left behind something of great value for you—not an inheritance of money or things (though they might leave these, as well).  No, what they have left for you is a letter.   Perhaps, they’ve left a recording.  Instantly, they are alive again! 

Any unsaid sorrys, or missed I love yous, can be uttered then, and again, if necessary, and again, because such is the gift of a relationship.  It allows.  You can say goodbye as many times as you want, or need, and have closure.  Yet, when a memory is sparked by a melody, or a phrase, or even a déjà vu moment in the most ordinary of circumstances, you are also allowed to say, “Hello again.”

 

Quietly, in my daughter’s warm living room, on a pleasant day in February, far removed from recent fury, a relationship I would not have known was now known.  It was time for a first “hello.”

Lord, as I have been blessed, help me to live while I am alive, and when it is time, to leave behind a legacy of blessing, and not of sorrow.

Sandy’s Page:


Sandy Kabala Charley and I are looking forward to three new grandchildren this year! Shalom and Chris are expecting, praise the Lord! We are so excited for all these heritages to come!

Like ·  February 14 at 1:51am

Randin Joy Turner, Karen Mohs, Alexis Anne Gilbert and 3 others like this.

Cindy Elliott Cordes Praise the Lord!

February 14 at 7:09am · Like

Hope Bredeson what an exciting year for U 2….I was so thrilled when I saw Shaloms post….& of course I am excited about my new great grandchild/Lexi & Don….now Seth & Amy….WOW…Jabez prayer…enlarging borders

February 14 at 8:50am · Like ·  1 person

Karen Mohs Yay,Sandy! Three more Kabala grandkids on the way. How fun!!! The cousins will have a blast playing together! 🙂

February 14 at 10:08am · Like ·  1 person

Sandy Kabala It is so wondrous and exciting. All these little lives that God has entrusted to us.

February 14 at 10:16am · Like ·  1 person

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