Peace, Christmas 2004

"The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ" (Philippians 4:7).

We hear more about PEACE on earth in December than at any other time of the year. Peace must begin in the hearts of the people. "He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord" (Isaiah 26:3, The Living Bible). Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. Peace on earth is conditional upon accepting Him, and living in accordance with His commandments--namely, "love one another; as I have loved you" (John 13:34). There are only two places where peace is to be found today: in Heaven because Jesus is there, and in the hearts of those who know Him, because He is there also--as the Holy Spirit.

Throughout my life, I have tried to comply with Ephesians 4:26, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Differences must be settled as quickly as possible. Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together."

Just recently, I had to deal with this, me being the one with wrath. My excuse is that over 20 years ago, my family physician diagnosed me with Epstein Bar Virus. When I am extremely tired or stressful, I just can't function physically or mentally. My doctor said it was from too many years of "burning my candle at both ends." True. I loved my life, and just couldn't cram enough into every day. Everything I did was fun.

Back to "recently:" Ronnie and I live 25 miles apart in the city of Houston. I stayed at his house, taking care of him while Ethel was vacationing with relatives in Denver, Colorado. Ronnie was on crutches, recovering from a broken leg and crushed foot when he fell off a ladder a year ago. He was a tremendous help to me, getting out my mailing lists of "Happenings." We'd work until 2:00 or 3:00 in the mornings; then sleep until noon. After Ronnie's 3:30 doctor's appointment on Wednesday, I went shopping at Walmart, returning at 7:00 to pack up and go to my house. Tomorrow, I was scheduled to have a Nuclear Stress Test to evaluate the blood flow to my heart. It took me two hours to unload the refrigerator into the Styrofoam ice chest and get everything (clothes, suitcases, etc.) in the car. I could only carry a small amount of items, less than 15 pounds, on each trip from the kitchen or bedroom, through the living room, across the front porch, down the walk to the other side of the yard and out to my car in the driveway and return. I had to walk slowly, praying I wouldn't have heart failure. I don't know how many trips I made, but it made excessive demands on my body.

Stress was building up because it was 9:00 when we left--the hour I was hoping to be in my bed!

After arriving at my home at 9:45, I had to unload the car; then fix supper! Hurray for leftovers! Food had to be put away in my refrigerator. It was slow going for me. Ronnie needed help getting settled in his room. My test on Thursday would take 4-1/2 hours. Friday, I'd rest all day. On Saturday, we'd take a trip to visit my brother at his ranch in Henderson, TX. Tonight, I was having doubts I'd be rested by Saturday. Every fifteen minutes, I was resting in my recliner in the den. That's where I was when Ronnie hobbled into the den on his crutches and said, "Gee! I forgot my ointment and lotion for my foot. Also, the plug-in cord to my razor!" He went on explaining how he unplugged the razor, leaving the cord in the outlet. He was apologetic.

I went "ballistic!" My mind was racing with "all HE had to do was get his stuff together! I can't go tonight. The nuclear test will be very hard on my heart. I can't drive 50 miles in traffic afterwards. Friday was my resting day". It only took seconds to think this way. In an angry voice, I replied, "Well, I just don't see how we can make the trip back to your house AND go to Henderson. It will be one or the other. I can't do both!" Ronnie turned and left the room. This was my undoing. I began crying out of control. As I finished my work in the kitchen, I was remorseful. I had been longing to see my brother for over a year. I couldn't go to his 80th birthday party because I was in the hospital with heart failure. Later, I hesitated to make the trip alone. This was a perfect time to go with Ronnie along. I should not have said those unkind words. We're going to Henderson! I'll go tell him, right now. He hated telling me about the razor cord. Everything will be o.k.

I entered the hall and looked towards his room. HE HAD THE DOOR CLOSED! He never closed the door before. He's mad at me. He hates me. Like I never forgot anything. He was excited about going to Henderson. I hurt him. He didn't need any more pain. He has suffered so much this past year. I can imagine his feelings of helplessness and dependence. He doesn't want to see me or talk to me. He shut the door!

I took a shower and went to bed. It is 2:00 a.m. I cry and cry. If his door wasn't shut, he would hear me. I can't sleep. I desperately need to rest. It's 3:00 a.m. I keep condemning myself for my thoughtlessness. How could I? The last time he was here, he said, "Mom, I put out a clean hand towel in my bathroom."

Like he was doing something for me just before he left. The only way I can have peace and get rest is to go NOW and talk to him. It's 4:00 a.m. I knock on his door. No answer. I open the door, walk over to his bed and call out his name. He awakens; rolls over; looks at me and says, "What's going on?" I began crying. "What's wrong?" he asks. "I'm scared," I replied. He assures me, "That test is nothing to be afraid of. I had the same test." He described it to me. We talk for one hour. He told me to put everything in God's hands and it would be alright. I said, "But what if God says it's time for me to go Home?" Ronnie replied, "That would be wonderful! You'd be with Jesus. Nothing could be better than that."

I said, "But I scolded you like you were still my little boy. I forgot you're all grown up. I wish I wasn't cross with you." That big 6'2" tall 240 pound son said, "Mom, I'll always be your little boy!" I said, "I love you." We hugged and he said, "I love you, too." I asked, "Shall I close your door?" "No," he answered.

It was now 5:00 a.m. I'm certain I was asleep in two minutes after I returned to my bed. I slept very, very sound until the alarm went off four hours later. I felt rested; physically fit for the test. This is the "peace that passeth all understanding." The peace that only God can give when we are in His will. To become reconciled after a quarrel. To bring harmony back into a relationship.

My sister Cora met me at the hospital and was with me throughout the test. She spent most of the time alone in the waiting room, but she was there for me, praying for me. I am much loved! Since I cannot do the treadmill, a pharmacologically induced stress test was performed using special medication to simulate exercise conditions. The doctor handed me a form to sign, saying "You may read it if you want to," and left the room. I read it, coming to the sentence which said, "It has been explained to me that this test could cause cardiac arrest which could result in my death." I thought , "Woa! We can stop this right now! I can't take chances on death. I've got too many unfinished projects to do." I read that sentence over and over again. Then, I concluded, "Dr. Berman is a caring man. He would not have requested this test if he thought there was the slightest chance I couldn't pass it." I signed the form.

Then I remembered, I was in a position like this once before. The doctor explained it like this: You and your best friend are getting into your car. You hand her a form to sign, which reads, "It has been explained to me that to travel in this car could result in an accident which could cause my death."

Two doctors came in. One administered the drugs through an IV in my left arm while the other took my blood pressure every minute in my right arm. They told me to explain all my feelings during the test. They laughed when I began with, "My left index finger is throbbing where you put that clothespin on it…I'm getting tired…I am very tired…I feel like I'm running a ten mile race in the Olympics…My face is hot."

"Yes," the doctor on my right said. "You are blushing." A tear rolls across my cheek towards my ear!

"I'm real uncomfortable; like needles pricking my face. It's like a hot July day in here. I don't like this."

"You're doing great. Just one more minute."

"I hope this is a once in a lifetime test because I don't ever want to do this again."

"Don't say that! The next one is free! What'll I do with your free test?"

"I don't want it. You can have it."

"What will I do with the million I already have?"

"Good! My attitude is right. No one wants to do this again."

That afternoon, my sister Kathleen called. Ronnie and I were in her home on Tuesday--Spades day with my sisters. I had taken a stack of 4 or 5 pillows for Ronnie's comfort while lying on a couch. Kathleen brought him one of her pillows to put at his back. When we left, I had gathered up all the pillows, including hers. She really needs it for her back while sleeping. I told her it was no problem, because we were coming in that direction in the morning to get Ronnie's razor cord and some medications he forgot to pack.

I told Ronnie, "Isn't God good? It was wrong of me to be upset because of your forgetfulness. I was going to your house anyway to get Kathleen's pillow and return it to her. I know how important a pillow is. Mine goes with me everywhere I spend the night -- as important as a razor plug-in cord!!!"

I needed an extra day to rest. We went to Henderson on Sunday, instead of Saturday. It was a wonderful trip. My brother and I picked blueberries from one of his three trees. I didn't know they grew on trees! Ronnie hobbled out in the yard on his crutches when my brother called his 75 cows to come home for feed. We had a great visit. It was a good trip, and helpful to Ronnie to have a change of scenery.

May the warmth and love that is all around us at Christmastime fill your heart with joy and shed radiance over the year that lies ahead. Jesus alone can give us peace with God -- and the peace of God.

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