Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just Another Birthday

I usually write about my thoughts regarding spirituality, or at least current events. Please indulge me today as I write about something more personal. Tomorrow is my wife's birthday, and I wanted to write about her.

Trish’s and my life took a surprising turn four years ago. It happened on June 1st, just one day before our wedding anniversary. We were still glowing from the birth of our new grandchild.

The day began like any other day. Trish and I got ready for work and walked down the stairs of our desert dream house to have breakfast and then head out to our workplaces. On the way down, Trish pointed to a plaque from Vietnam that some believers had sent to us and which we had hung on the wall.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That’s what the plaque said.

Trish’s simple gesture – pointing to that plaque – would haunt me for months.

Except for a few brief words in the early afternoon, I would not hear her speak again for nearly two weeks. I would never hear her same voice again. Just a few hours from that moment we paused to read the words on the plaque, she would slip into the valley of the shadow of death. We would both be changed forever. Life would never be the same.

After her coma came a long journey of adjustment and rehabilitation. We moved across the continent because I didn’t think I could both pastor a large church and be a caretaker of an invalid wife. I learned how to get her wheelchair into places not built to accommodate them. Trish learned to walk again.

When she finally got her drivers license back, she fired me as her caretaker. The months turned to years. A new grandbaby was born – our third. Our church in Nashville asked me to be their senior pastor. We started building a new house just before the bottom fell out of the economy. We rented our old house because it wouldn’t sell. We moved into a bungalow waiting for her new house to get finished. Thanksgiving came.

And now, on the fourth of December, Trish will have a birthday. It has taken four years for me to realize that life will not “go back to normal.”

Normal has changed.

For us, there is a new normal. It has also dawned on me that I cannot recall the birthdays she has celebrated since her coma. Its time to stop and take note: the plans the Lord had for us was to prosper us, not to harm us; His plan was to give us a hope and a future.

On this birthday, I want to wake up from my own sleep. I want to be more aware and alert so I can enjoy each and every day, whatever that day brings. And I want to celebrate the joys of walking through our new normal life together.

Happy Birthday, Trish.

Happy Normal, Uneventful birthday.

Love, Dan

Photo Credits: Vickie Riley Photography


Anonymous said...

To be sure, at the heart of love and happiness is the right to define one's own concept of "normal."

Happy Birthday, Trish! Clearly, your life firmly establishes what an amazing woman you are.

Ruthie said...

Thank you for sharing from your loving heart. In all of our lives "normal" changes. Events and circumstances change our lives. As long as we have the Lord to lean on, we can make it. Happy birthday to your dear wife. And thank you for all you are, Pastor Dan, you have truly influenced and changed my life by your spiritual guidance.