2012 in review- JillinoisRN

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Everlasting Moments

When I was 15 or 16 years old, I was into writing poetry.  One of the short ones was titled

“A Minute”

What is a minute in the course of eternity?

Every minute a life begins.

Every minute a life ends.

A minute is forever.

In going to the celebration service for Mary Kay Meeker, who died one month ago, I’ve realized that her lasting influence on me came in momentary interactions.  I first met her as a 8 year old 4th grade camper (I was always young for my grade).  For 7 summers, I looked forward to seeing Mary Kay. She was a constant, and someone who held attention by being attentive.  Then I spent 2 1/2 summers on summer staff at the same camp, and had longer (though still brief) periods of contact- and she never ‘wasted’ time she spent with anyone.  She made people feel as if they were the only one on the planet when she was talking with them.  When I saw her in July of this year, it was the same thing. We had probably 20-30 minutes together, along with her husband Greg, and it was like we had been in regular contact over the years and were simply catching up.  It was a very comfortable conversation that again made me feel like I mattered. And she is the reason I even made the effort to get there; my medical situation makes leaving home precarious- but she reassured me, and basically “told” me I’d get there and be just fine.  🙂

That was one of her gifts that I gravitated to the most over the years.  I didn’t feel much consistency at home, but at camp I could depend on Mary Kay to be her usual  (awesome) self.  She was incredibly talented in various performance arts- music/piano, ventriloquism, drama, skit-writing, etc…. and as much as those talents caught the attention of the campers (and the staff), her ability to interact with people on a 1:1 basis was beyond what I knew from all but a very few people.  During that time of my life, it made a huge difference in my relationship with God.  She was the consistency I needed in order to understand a consistent and loving God- even if I didn’t see her all the time, she was the same each year at camp. Very few people in my life have shown me that so steadily.

She was a solid frame of reference for living as a Christian in a way that started when I was a little kid- in a way that a little kid could understand.  She was able to apply Christ to various developmental stages, and that made the difference between telling a kid a story, and teaching a kid how to apply a life-lesson. The consecutive years at camp built on each layer of teaching from the year before, making a stronger foundation for my spiritual life and beliefs. It wasn’t lip service- it was walking the walk.  I’m still working on being better at that- she is one of a handful of people that I consider my spiritual base and role model.

Her death has been really hard, and I somehow don’t feel the ‘right’ to feel her loss as deeply as I have. I didn’t have a lot of contact with Mary Kay, though we had been in touch on FaceBook over the last few months of her life. And seeing her again in July of this year was like I had been at camp just days before. We had ‘moments’ of a relationship.  But she made moments count.  Her interactions had impact.  She didn’t waste her breath on pointless or unproductive speech.  She could be as goofy as they come, but there was a consistent message that God comes first, and He’s got it all under control. She was incredibly silly at times, but not at the expense of her commitment to God. She could be intensely deep in her dramatic skits- and yet it wasn’t some plastic display.  She was the real deal.

She is an example of how I want to live my life.  I don’t want to waste time on stuff that essentially useless, or possibly hurtful.  I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ Christians, who pushes people away from the faith we have in Jesus, and the promise of seeing each other again after death on earth.  I want to be able to incorporate the silly things into a joyful way of living that lets others know that God has me in His arms. (I do believe God has a sense of humor…. ever look at an emu up close?).  Even in her death, Mary Kay Meeker is showing me how to live.  Each moment counts.  Each moment can impact the rest of someone’s life.  I need to be responsible, and make those moments time that can be used by God for His good.  In the ‘end’, nothing else matters.

Driving Ms. Hazy

Very bad memories of nearly passing out in the drivers seat. While the car was moving. Limitations with sitting upright (and not moving around) for any length of time. Abnormal heart rates as a result of being in one position. Being confined to a sitting position with no chance to take ‘vertical’ breaks. Many, many episodes of actually losing consciousness because of the dysautonomia (dysfunction of the part of my brain that regulates involuntary bodily responses- blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, temperature control, etc.). While I’ve never passed out in the car, the times I’ve bitten the floor on solid ground are literally too many to count. (I don’t count well when I’m not conscious).  Having driven myself more than 5 miles one-way only one time in over 6 years.  Not exactly great associations with driving my car.

But I want to go to a celebration of a friend’s life at the end of this month. I want to be there. She died one week ago today, and the celebration is going to be about all of the good she contributed to the lives of thousands of kids and adults during her ministry at several places. For me, it’s mostly about a wonderful camp I attended as a kid, and then worked at during the summers of 1980, 1981, and half of 1982.  She was a major part of the camp being my spiritual home, then and now.  I want to be with others who are going to celebrate her life. It’s going to be a wonderfully positive gathering.

Yet I’m  quite nervous about driving the 50 miles, give or take, one-way, in order to be there.  I know that I have enough ‘warning’ when my body starts to act in weird ways that signal I’m in trouble and need to pull over. I know that the worst thing that can happen is that I’ll need to put the car seat back, so I can get the blood moving into  my head. I know that I’ve got my cell phone if I should get into major trouble. I know I’ve got my ‘as needed’ medications for many possible problems,  and assorted equipment to prevent getting overheated.  I know that I generally pack enough stuff to prevent or take care of  just about any medical condition known to exist, for the entire population of a small third world country.  I know that I’ve survived up to this point, and that the vast majority of things people worry about never happen.  In my head I know these things…my heart hasn’t caught up.

I know that God won’t abandon me, and that there is comfort in His presence. I know that this celebration is mostly gratitude about how He used this wonderful woman to extend His love for more than 40 years to so many kids. I know that I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).  I do believe that, and so I will go.  And I will still  be prepared for anything that could come up. That’s not a lack of faith, that’s common sense and being responsible. And I will ask God to knock a knot in my head when I get panicky, and bring me back to reality.

Sometimes I need to remember that I drove a 17 foot U-Haul  (total of 23 feet of truck including the cab) from deep in the heart of Texas back to my childhood home near Chicago, with only my dog- so no relief driver.  I had been diagnosed with the dysautonomia prior to that trip, and while I was much more stable then, there were still  risks, but I  made it in two days with no disasters.  Well, I did wipe out part of a McDonald’s drive-thru sign somewhere in Oklahoma, but the insurance took care of that- at least on the truck. 🙂  I need to remember all of the ‘day trips’ around central Texas that I used to take, with my camera and a ‘let’s go’ attitude.  Granted, I was healthier, but my driving skills are solid, and actually a little bit of ‘old fart’ in their adventurousness. Even my 80 year old dad will pull out on the road before I will if making a left turn onto a street without traffic lights.  I’m not a risky driver.  I’m a wuss.  So, I should be just fine.

Between now and then, I’ll get my stuff ready- ice vest, ice vest inserts, ice bandana ice packs, diabetic supply kit with insulin, any ‘as needed’ medicines for a variety of potential issues, a couple of bottles of water, a bottle of Coca Cola for any potential low blood sugar problems, insulated bag and ice packs for all of the cold stuff, wheeled walker with the seat, ad nauseum… I figure the car can serve as a tent if I get stuck somewhere, but I’ve also got a gizmo that will jump my battery if it dies out, so I’ve got that covered, too.   I have to get home in time for  my dog’s heart failure medicine; motivation to make this all go smoothly.

I’ll be so glad I decided to go to the celebration of her life.  She continues to be a role model for reaching out and grabbing opportunities to ‘be able’, and not live in a disabled world.  She continues to encourage me with my memories of her life.  The least I can do is show up to celebrate her. ❤

 

Exit Stage Vertical

Yesterday , Mary Kay Meeker left this earth from an ICU bed at a hospital in Waukesha, WI (USA).   Mary Kay’s hand was taken by her husband, and placed in the hand of God as she took her last breath after being taken off life support.  In that moment, she saw glory and a complete healing of her recent critical medical issues, and the residual effects of polio that she had as a young child. She was released from the stranglehold of sickness into the absolute freedom and peace of God’s love.  With that new health and perfection of her heavenly body, she saw Jesus for the first time, and began her exploration of eternity.  She saw our Lord !  She has spoken to Jesus face to face, and seen Him as He is !  Mary Kay is now part of eternity.

While people here will miss her presence, there are so many stories about Mary Kay that are surfacing to help soothe the wound of her absence. This is a woman who never met someone she couldn’t encourage or build up in some way.  Whether it be through her work in programming at Timber-lee Christian Center, or Awana groups, her church, or as a neighbor or friend, Mary Kay was all about the glass being half full, if not overflowing.

I often saw her on stage when I first met Mary Kay as a camper.  She was doing skits and ventriloquism acts during week long sessions, that continued all summer long.  She made those skits vehicles for how to live as a Christian. Even for elementary school kids, there was something about her that was ‘real’…and she liked kids. There have been numerous accounts of how she and her husband Greg would interact with kids in a way that let them know that being a kid was good enough.  Kids crave being valued by adults.

Mary Kay was an amazing pianist.  Even with her left arm being weakened by polio, she could crank out just about any song in any key at the drop of a hat.  Her ear for music was amazing.  I never saw her play the piano without a big smile while she simultaneously led 300+ campers in various camp songs from that stage in Cross Timber.  Music was a big part of who Mary Kay was.

It is hard to imagine Timber-lee without Mary Kay.  Oh, I know it will continue to be an amazing Christian camp, with so many activities and options for kids. It will still show the love of Jesus to kids of all ages. It will still be a great place for a winter retreat or group meeting.  But one of its core members is gone.  That will hurt, and yet those who know her know that she would want things to go on as scheduled, and for people to keep reaching past what they think they can do- to spread the love of Jesus to everyone who walks along Timber-lee’s paths.

Mary Kay was all about showing people possibilities they hadn’t even considered.  She boosted the good in people, and loved those who were going through not such great times- sometimes when she didn’t even know it.  Her influence didn’t require direct conversation (though she did talk with a lot of people about a lot of things, and really listened).  She lived her life in such a way as to show people ways of relating to each other, and to God. Even when I hadn’t seen her for years, I’d remember something about MK and be encouraged. She was a ‘feel good’ person.

Those of us who are Christians will see her again someday, and know the awe and wonder of seeing Jesus for the first time.  In the meantime, Mary Kay is probably setting up various choirs and singing groups, and seeking out those who always wanted to sing but didn’t think they could when they were alive on earth.  Maybe she’s organizing the angels’ choir into soprano, alto, tenor, and bass sections , and using that new left arm to direct them in some camp songs !! She has probably already met George Beverly Shea and the Goodmans, and has them helping with the choirs !

I can see Mary Kay walking through Heaven, gathering orphaned kids and talking to each of them- praising God for each of them.  She’ll have them singing or doing skits before long, to entertain the other folks up in Heaven. 🙂  If nobody stops her, she’ll have them doing something in Swedish (the Swedes up there will LOVE Mary Kay- yah, you betcha !!).   I can see her being welcomed by former Timber-lee folks who have been up there for a while, and them introducing her to people they know.

Mary Kay’s work here is done, at least directly- she planted countless seeds that will continue to grow.  It was God’s will that she be in Heaven with Him… she may not be working here on earth, but I’m guessing she’s keeping plenty busy.  I can’t imagine her having it any other way !