Go with the Flow

Go with the Flow


 Being stopped in our tracks and having plans disrupted by roadblocks are a common experience. We proceed slowly over speed bumps but a roadblock stops forward progress entirely, temporarily. The options we have are: wait if road workers are involved or turn around to find an alternate route.

A few days before our five-sibling reunion, Jane, turning 95 this summer, received the news that their retirement village had gone into bankruptcy. The residents, some younger and older than she, were given 30-60 days to find other housing. That is a sad and shocking roadblock, but Jane, having served with her husband as missionaries in Africa for seventeen years, conditioned her to manage many roadblocks. Fortunately, Beth, her daughter-in-law, sprang into action and reserved an apartment in a new retirement home closer to them. Jane never uttered complaints about all the changes she faced but began to do what had to be done, adding packing to partial reunion visits.

We sibs were delighted to tour Jane’s future apartment and meet several staff. It’s difficult to downsize and painful to leave friends she’s had for many years. Jane exchanges a seventh-floor and a breath-taking view of Tampa and Tampa Bay for a quieter and safer country community surrounded by a grove of trees.  Sidewalks around the building and side porches equipped with lawn furniture looked inviting to all of us. The new place offers better benefits and making new friends. As usual, Jane will make a good adjustment setting a good example for her younger siblings.

We took daily pleasant walks, enjoyed the meals that Jim and Beth provided and treasured on-going conversations and laughter. We enjoyed watching the birds come and go around several feeders. However, the highlight was a very special worship time involving brother David’s youngest son, 49-year-old Eric who had requested before the reunion to stop by so we siblings could pray for him as he faces treatment for stage 3 rectal cancer. This is quite a huge roadblock for Eric and his family.

My version of Eric is that he’s the kingpin of his siblings and parents and also irreplaceable at our extended family reunion. From the time he was just a little guy, he was helping his dad set up their tent, gathering sticks for the bonfire and doing anything that he could do. He’s continued being willing and able to do what needs to be done.  During Covid, an energetic Eric opened his garage door and invited the neighbors to breakfast. It’s obvious that he is unselfish with time, money, effort and encouragement, Eric will have to work around his job and other physical responsibilities while he fights this disease. John suggested an anointing/laying-on-hands prayer service.

(For new readers: John, Mac and David are retired Methodist ministers and have much experience in healing prayer-services in their various churches.)

They followed the scripture: Is anyone sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person wellJames 5:14,15 (NIV. “There were certainly many elders present”, Mac quipped.

Jane’s son, Jim, wrote a spiritual poem based on Psalm 51 which Kay read. As we gathered around Eric placing our hands on him, individual prayers were spoken asking God to heal Eric and give him, his wife and young sons wisdom as they adjusted to the radical changes ahead. Mac closed with prayer, then Eric spoke about his desire and goal to reflect a dependent relationship on the Lord as a witness to his friends and family as he received treatment. He also humbly shared that even though he is a strong person, he was scared. The entire service was one of the most moving I’ve ever been part of.

The next afternoon was my turn to face a roadblock. A call from my surgeon’s office informed me that insurance had denied the April 30 scheduled surgery. How could that be?  I had the same insurance and the exact procedure on my right spine four years ago. As directed, I called the insurance company and learned that they require six weeks of Physical Therapy beforehand. Exercises will not address what needs to be done to clean out L 3,4, and 5 in my spine.  However, regulations rule.

Immediately, I began assessing all the well-laid plans that would disintegrate into thin air: pre-op complete, and son David’s flight plans canceled. What were my options?  I had no power to change the denial, so time to pray, accept the disappointment and begin transitioning from plan A to plan B.

Not my first roadblock in life and compared to Eric’s problem, just a little blip.  When I look for solutions to any problem, on my tablet, I make two headings: DRAWBACKS and BENEFITS. I knew there would be disappointment with David not coming but also unknown blessings in having to go back to square one. “Well,” I thought, “hopefully, I’ll get a blog out of it.”

When I called David that evening to tell him about the change in plans, he said he was reminded of his mind-set when he played college volleyball. Rather than jump vigorously into the game, he learned to let the game come to him which allowed him to make slower and better plays.  He named some professional athletes who practice this.  “You’ve just given me a title for my blog, David, ‘Go with the Flow’.  I realized that allowing ‘the game to come to you’ requires patience, flexibility and alertness, all necessities in getting around any type of road block. 

Several drawbacks: not getting the surgery out of the way as planned, and having to start pre-op over. I dislike any waste of time.

I was especially looking forward to David’s visit to catch up on conversation and have extended family time. He planned to do some house repairs. He enjoys attending church and seeing old friends. He likes to check the church sound system. He’s an expert. We planned to shop a little and have some meals out.

I intend to lean on the Lord as I jump through all the hoops and encourage as many people as I can in the process. Turning everything over to the Lord brings deep peace despite drawbacks.  

Benefits and Blessings so far are: I had become resigned to being unable to work in my gardens. Now, I’m free to do spring gardening and plant flowers on my plant table as usual.

I have already had two therapy sessions. Being a pro-exercise person all my adult life, meeting and becoming friends with therapists and learning new exercises is invigorating and educational. 

Yesterday, another therapist said, “Hello, Mrs. Ward, I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m John Jones. I had you for many classes, especially 8th grade English.” As a substitute for many subjects in middle and high school and having students for many classes created a special bond.  “I remember you were writing,” John said. “Have you had anything published?” “I have, John.  What an excellent memory you have.”.   Now, that was another plus for therapy!

Hosting the church inspirational speaker every May has been a given for over 30 years, and this year was going to be a little difficult recovering from surgery, but now, everything will be normal.

An office project that I haven’t had time to complete will now get finished since surgery has been delayed. I’ll not be recovering during my 90th birthday celebration when my family plans to visit.

Mid-summer surgery really works out better because it’s usually too hot for me to walk and work in the garden, anyway. Counting blessings is always a good practice. And as mentioned before, for me, daily turning everything over to God brings deep peace.

get wisdom, discipline and understanding. Prov. 23:23 (NIV).

the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Luke 4:40 (NIV).

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28 NIV.

Thank you, Father, for your unfailing love, constant patience, direction and speaking to us in so many ways. Amen.