After the Resurrection

When Lent began I looked forward to a season of growth. I planned to use Ed Hays book, The Mountain of God for my devotional. I did use it but the season was not a season of growth for me at all. In fact the only thing I liked about it was being able to eat those Reece’s peanut butter eggs after buying them from the store instead of pulling them out of my freezer as I do the rest of the year. (I do love those eggs and always buy enough this time of year to put them in my freezer so I can eat them all year long!)

I’m not sure why I was so bummed this year. Maybe it was having to deal with my double vision or being more tired than usual. However, I think there really was no reason in particular accept that it was just one of those years. One year I didn’t put my Christmas tree up because I just didn’t feel like it. So what ever the reason was, Lent just passed me by and before I knew it, it was Easter Sunday. I couldn’t even get excited about putting flowers on a wooden cross at Circle of Mercy, my church that meets on Sunday evenings!

Mark Ramsey, the pastor at Grace Covenant Presbyterian, did say some things in his sermon that got me thinking. He relayed a story that a congregational member told him about a church on Palm Sunday. After the devastating tornadoes that destroyed several churches, in one neighborhood a remarkable thing happened.

There were “scores of people walking down the street with shovels and chainsaws and wheelbarrows. They were members of a church. Their church and their neighborhood were spared the Storm’s wrath. But their pastor had cancelled services and told the congregation to go and serve and help and support. That would be their worship for the day. Where is the resurrection true? Where is Easter happening? Right there…face to face with need. Eye to eye with Hope.”

So it doesn’t really matter what my Lent was like. What matters now is, “how can I make the resurrection true in my own life?” I can’t serve on a lot of committees, lead bible studies or preach sermons but I can support the people God has put into my life. By writing this blog, I’ve met many interesting folks who are struggling with brain injuries. And in my every day life, I’ve met many people who feel they don’t fit into our world at all. Perhaps this is my Easter.

How do you see resurrection in your life? Or perhaps you don’t feel God’s care for you at all. Directions for commenting are above on the right or feel free to contact me at tamara@indylink.org

Eyes

On Good Friday, Michael and I went to Atlanta for my follow-up appointment with my eye surgeon. I had my fifth eye muscle surgery two weeks ago and I must say I’m getting a little tired of them. My vision isn’t right and I almost hoped he would say I needed another surgery. However, I don’t really want to go through another surgery so I was in a bit of a quandary. He measured my double vision and said it isn’t quite bad enough for another one. It still might improve some since my brain has to process the change and this hasn’t happened yet.

The worst part about it is reading. It’s hard to explain but pictures or dark writing on the side will bleed over the main area of my vision. This is very annoying especially since I read a lot. It makes me tired. I’ve started to listen to books-on-tape so so I don’t have to read the books. I’m still in the dark ages because now I think you can put the books on an ipod or another device to listen to them. I’m just now using my first lap-top and they have been around for a while.

I’m a bit bummed by this but I’m trying not to let it get me down. I’m glad this is my only physical issue. I have to preach at Circle of Mercy this Sunday so I printed out the sermon even larger than normal since the words tend to be a bit difficult to read now. The hardest part is turning the pages without getting them stuck! I think I’ll feel better as time goes on.

Eye Surgery

I haven’t written in a while because I had surgery on my eye muscles in Atlanta on April 8. It was my fifth surgery since 1997. My accident caused me to have double vision and the surgeries were to correct this. When I was in rehab, one of my therapist fashioned a patch for one eye made out of black poster board and Velcro. I tried to vary which eye I patched so I would use them both equally. The surgeon didn’t want to do surgery on the muscles until later.

The black patch was sort of boring so I decorated it with various stickers. I had hearts, smiley faces, rainbows and flowers so I could match all my moods and outfits. Some stickers came off without pulling off the poster board so I always tried to buy these stickers. Sometimes the patches would rip so I always had an extra one. It became sort of a game to me to select a different sticker to fit the occasion. Sometimes I picked something that made me feel better. Rainbows always cheered me up because they reminded me that God was always with me from the story of Noah.

The first three surgeries were easy. My double vision wasn’t corrected completely so I had to wear special lenses called “prisms” and these mostly corrected it. The lenses are difficult to make. Once they were made wrong and I didn’t notice until it was too late. I then had to have another surgery. I’m not sure why my eyes changed without incorrect lenses but they did.

The final two surgeries were not easy at all especially this last one. At least I didn’t get nauseous this time! My eye did get infected though and it swelled up so I could hardly see out of it. The surgeon prescribed drops which have helped. I guess my case is complicated and the my surgeon has even written about it.

I still have some double vision and my follow-up appointment is this week. Double vision can be three ways:up and down, side to side and tilted. The first two can be corrected with lenses but the tilting cannot. Unfortunately, this surgery was for tilting. There’s a chance what he did will affect my double vision in such a way that I’ll have to get new prism lenses. I just bought my glasses less than a year ago and two pairs are very expensive. I hope I don’t have to have them made again to the tune of $800!

I don’t have many physical challenges from my TBI but I understand that many folks do. Tell me about some of your physical challenges by commenting. See upper right for directions or contact me directly at tamara@indylink.org

Sermon

I’m going to preach at Circle of Mercy congregation on May 1. As I wrote earlier, I like to preach but I never was able to get into a groove so writing a sermon is always difficult for me. A neuropsycologist once told me that I’d never be able to write them because of all my challenges but I’ve written and preached several since my accident.

I’ve learned that is easier to write one when I have an idea already. Preaching from the lectionary is tough since I have difficulty putting structure on something which is one of my TBI challenges. I do better if I already have thoughts about a particular passage. Sermons are difficult for me to write and and I get stressed out over them but I think I have some skill in preaching. I’ve decided with enough lead time, I’m able to preach one.

Last year, we studied Encounters with Jesus: Studies in the Gospel of John by Frances Taylor Gench in a Sunday School class at Grace Covenant. I got excited about her interpretation of John 4:1-41, the woman at the well, and thought it would be a great passage to use for a first person sermon. I did some research on Samaria but I never wrote the sermon and I can’t remember where I put those notes! Ah well. I’ll be okay without them.

I’ve learned to set aside specific time to work on a project and then put it in a folder to contain it. I used to spend hours and hours right before I had to preach but I can’t do this now. So this morning I spent an hour reading the chapter in the book and coming up with some ideas. On Wednesday, I’m going to begin writing it and then I’ll put it away for a few days. This should help me not worry about it so much.

It will probably take me several short spurts of time to write it but my goal is to have something written in two weeks. It’s too stressful for me to write a sermon right before I must preach it so once it is written, I’ll practice it a few times and then put it away.

I’m using everything I know about my stress to manage it. I’ll probably write this several times in this blog but it is an important concept for me to remember. “When you feel anxious, the brain releases chemicals that cause you to have difficulty thinking as clearly. This can make things especially difficult for someone with a brain injury.”

However, I do have a plan. I already have a first person sermon on Hagar that I can preach if this one doesn’t work out. This takes some of the pressure off me.

Do you have difficulty with stress or containing your thoughts as I do? It helps me to write them down and then put them away. I also plan to swim some laps this afternoon which will take my mind off my thoughts and it will help relieve stress. See above right for commenting instructions or contact me directly at tamara@indylink.org