As He’s Brushing My Teeth

As my father was brushing my teeth one night, I started thinking about what this very act does to him… or for him.

Toothbrush

When my motorneuron disease weakened me to the point where I couldn’t brush my own teeth anymore, I found the ordeal of having someone else move a brush in and out of my mouth, well… an ordeal.  And it hasn’t been a picnic for my dad, either.  My mother seriously dislikes the job, as I know that I would, too.  That’s okay, she does other things very well.  Anyway, this empathetic kind of thing that requires concentration, patience, and precision is better suited for my dad’s skill set.  But, I know that my father does not like, or should I say, particularly enjoy, this chore.  It’s a chore.

On this particular night, the burden that is my daily care was weighing heavily upon me.  It’s easy to feel a little guilty when you have to depend so much on other people.  And I was thinking that my father would be better off if he didn’t have to do this chore, night after night with little variation and very rare respites, better off if he didn’t have to do it then, at that moment.  Of course, he would rather that I be able to do it for myself – for my sake – but, because I can’t, he says that he is glad to do it for me.  He says this about all of the many, many, many things that he does for me day in and day out.

Yes, of course he feels that way.  He’s a good dad.  He’s a good man.  But – for his sake – I was thinking that someone else should be doing this, someone who hires herself out as a home health aide, for example, like the ones that take on some of my daily care for a few hours, four days a week.  Trying to get more help has proven very difficult.  But, if I was able to arrange some kind of full-time care from professionals, then my father would have a little more of what he deserves – a normal, ordinary way of living.

That night, however, as my dad was brushing my teeth, I began to wonder… (and it could’ve been my self-conscious trying to assuage my sense of guilt or it could’ve been a little inspiration of wisdom – or a combination of both.)  Maybe there’s something in life that he’s gaining through this chore…? Continue reading

Autobiographical Page

I’ve been toying with what to write on my “official website”  (sorry, that still sounds pretentious) concerning my bio page.  The homepage is an “About” written in the third person (yes, that was very weird to write) but, I’ve decided to include a little something more “in her own words”  – yes, in the first person.

Below is something that I came up with – and I really want to know what you think…

 

Life with a disability isn’t anyone’s ideal.

But, it’s life without love that’s a tragedy.

Because of my genetic disease (infantile spinal muscular atrophy) I have experience of particular suffering, often acute suffering, as I lack the gifts of physical health, strength, and abilities. Because of my amazing and self-giving parents, however – as well as my doting sister, close childhood friend, big extended family, brother-in-law, nephews, and even generous strangers – I have always known that I am a loved individual. Best of all, though I didn’t always know it, I have come to understand that I am eternally loved by my Creator, that I have been infinitely and intimately loved into being by God.

Yes, I am gorgeously rich in love.

And that’s the story of my life. For, this love has shaped me, saved me from error, and sent me on my path – on the good, true, and terribly beautiful path created just for me.

Not the bio that you were expecting, I’m sure. Most people, when writing about themselves, would probably list their accomplishments, in the form of college degrees, work experiences, spouse, homeownership, or children. I have none of these usual things. And, yet, I have listed what is most important in my life, I have listed the greatest blessings and experiences that I have been given, by declaring one accomplishment – which is not really an accomplishment at all, but, rather, an unmerited gift: I know that I am loved.

Dear reader, my prayer is that, no matter how worldly-great or worldly-small you may be, you will also receive the greatest and best that human life has to offer: the experienced knowledge of unconditional love, which is divine.

© 2018 Christina Chase

Happy Birthday to Me

baby, crib, Christina Chase

Tomorrow is my birthday.  (Thank you for the kind thoughts!  Yes, of course I can hear what’s in your head, silly.)  This year, my birthday brings good news and bad news.

The Bad News:

I am unable to make my self-imposed deadline for my book.  As part of my New Year’s Resolution, I had resolved to get my first manuscript into the hands of an editor by my birthday.  Well, that’s not going to happen.  (Okay, I know, that’s really not that terrible. But, I’m disappointed and a little scared that I will keep missing deadlines.)

I was able to make the first deadline of my resolution, completing the first draft of the manuscript by March 1.  But… well, perhaps I shouldn’t say that I am unable to make the other deadline – it’s more that I am unwilling.  What I mean is that the first draft was of a book that I didn’t really like.  In my opinion (which matters, since it is my book) it had major flaws.  These flaws required an extensive revision, which included the writing of several new reflection chapters.

The needed revision wasn’t so extensive that it needed, say, 40 days and 40 nights of rain to cause a biblical sized flood to wash away the horrors and start afresh.  Nope.  Just another six weeks or so of work.  My new deadline for sending the manuscript to an editor is my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary (mid-May.)  Or traditional Memorial Day at the absolute latest!  (To this date I must stay firm – please help me by bugging me, dear reader!)

The Good News:

The good news is that it’s my birthday tomorrow.  Every birthday is good news!  I am sublimely grateful to be celebrating another year, especially after what I went through medically last year.  But, I’m always grateful.  Frankly, due to the grim prognosis of my disease given to my parents on my second birthday, every year since I was 18 has felt like a bonus prize.  For, every time April 6 comes around, I wonder if it will be the last birthday that I will get to celebrate.  This wonder isn’t as morbid as it sounds, for it doesn’t fill me with gloom or anxiety.  Rather, it is truly a wonder – a gladness and a delighted surprise that I am still here.  Oh, all of the beauties of spring that I will again be able to witness dripping, stretching, and bursting open all around me!

An essential part of this good news is that I know that I am loved.  My amazing parents are still with me, able to give of themselves to me as they have done for decades, showing me and everyone who knows them the wondrous truth, beauty, and power of self-sacrificing love.  And all with a great sense of humor and enjoyment of life!  My big sister, too, is in my life, a cherished gift in herself, having also brought to the family the gift of her good and loving husband and their two bright and beautiful sons, who, themselves, are endless gifts of wonder and joy.

And, most thankfully, I know that I am infinitely and intimately loved by my Creator.  No matter what.  Always and forever.

Life is good.  I am happy that I was conceived and born into the world!  And that’s what I’ll be celebrating tomorrow: the gift of life and all that God has given me.  Yes, all.  I willingly take the bitter with the sweet for the chance to be able to live in God’s terribly beautiful Creation and participate, in every little way, in Creation’s awe-filled praise of the Divine.

It is good to be here.

Spring, Apple blossoms, cherry blossoms

© 2018 Christina Chase


1st photo, me in my crib, reaching for my photographer father

2nd photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

Mama

My mother is having surgery today.  She needs to have a full tear in her rotator cuff repaired – a surgery that is not uncommon.  But, I admit… I’m still worried.

Yes, I’m a bit of a worrier, what can I say?

Of course, I hope and pray that all will go well – that God will guide the hands and minds of the surgeon and all who are involved, according to His Perfect Will.  And I do trust in God’s goodness.  (All prayers are welcome!)

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a little of my mother with you.

So much more to me than a mother is she, although a mother is beyond good and beautiful, a wonderful wonder to be…

I’ve always been disabled, but mothers are supposed to take care of their children.  Now that I am an adult with great dependence and need, my mother is still my caregiver – even though, through the years, her own physical abilities have declined and racked her body beyond her age.  Being a hard worker, selfless, and stubborn, she pushes through pain and weakness, shuffling, bent over, dragging herself to do what she feels needs to be done.  As a woman, she is a marvel.  As a mother, she is a treasure.  And, as a human being, she is my friend, one of my favorite people in the world.

Hoping that this doesn’t sound too sacrilegious, I was thinking the other day of how my words to describe my mother are many of the same words that I use to describe Christ.

She is my rock.  Not only because she is tough, but also because her gifts and talents are constants, reliable, always there when I need them.  She is the firm foundation of our family.  No matter what the many things that assail her, if I really need her, she finds a way.

She is my refuge.  Everyone who has ever come to our house knows that my mother’s home is a true home, not only for her family, but for everyone invited, who all feel comfortable and lavishly pampered in a house of love.

She is my light.  When my mother is happy, everything is easy, music and laughter fill the house, and we deliciously delight in each other’s company.  Even when she isn’t happy, if I have a small decision to make, if I’m not quite sure how to do something or move forward, my mother is the one to whom I turn.  Her practical wisdom is unmatched (even if she doesn’t always take her own advice!)

As we are preparing for Christmas (my mother’s favorite time of year) these thoughts about my own mother make me think about Christ’s relationship with his.  Aren’t many of the things that I said about my mom true about many good mothers?  Of course, the mother of Jesus is exceptional – there is no denying that.  Mystery of Mysteries, God chose her to be His own mother.  How he must have loved her!  But… my mother is exceptional, too.  As disabled as her body is, she pushes through her pain and weakness and cares for me (and I so don’t deserve it – no arguing.)  And she cares for others with love and joy, with a selfless generosity that goes beyond being a “good” mom or even a great one.  And… mystery of mysteries, God chose her to be my mother.

I thank You, my Lord and my God, for the amazing person whom I am honored and privileged to call, “Mama”!  Watch over her and take good care of her, please, helping her to recover fully and well, with as little pain as possible.

© 2017 Christina Chase

Radically Give Thanks in All Things

Thanksgiving, Bible quotes,

“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”[1]

You know that Thanksgiving tradition of going around the dinner table asking each person for what he or she is most thankful?  One easy way for me to respond would be to say, “I’m thankful for my family.”  Simple and, perhaps, cliché – yet, this gratitude is so profoundly, undeniably, and unshakably true that I do feel compelled to say it aloud whenever situations allow.  May I write out right now: Thank You, God, for the awesome blessing of my family and friends!!!

Yes.  It is good to express gratitude out loud for good people and genuinely praise God for them.  But…

Radical Thanks

In the Bible verse that I quoted from St. Paul, it doesn’t say to give thanks for the nice things in your life.  It says to give thanks in all circumstances.  And this calls to my mind the words of Jesus, who reminded us that it is easy to love the people who love us – but what about the people who hate us?  Christ calls us to cast into the deep, to not be bound to what comes naturally to us as creatures of the flesh, but to transcend instinct and do what is supernatural, what is divine, responding in accordance to the spirit within us.

As we, then, are radically called to love our enemies, we are also radically called to give thanks in all circumstances.  Yup, all of them.  If we are in the midst of an unjust situation, then we are called to be thankful for the opportunity to practice virtue, to right a wrong, and to share God’s compassion.  If we are in the midst of grieving the death of a loved one, then we are called to be thankful for having known and loved this precious person, who is thankfully not lost, but alive in Christ for all eternity.

This gratitude doesn’t mean that we are called to be complacent.  We pray for the courage to change the things that we can… but we also pray for the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change.

One Big Thing That I Cannot Change

Continue reading

Scripture Quotes from the Heart

I’ve been trying to find a biblical quote to put on the wall of my bedroom.  In researching passages (focusing on the heart) I decided to share a few here with some reflections.  (This idea is inspired, in part, by my friend’s “Scription” at DonnaMaria.org.)

Heart, windowpane, cross

From Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

 

What do you treasure?

Would do you hold most dear?

For me, my treasure is my family.  According to this Scripture quote, therefore, I think that means that my heart, the core of who I am, is with my family.  My identity and my very being is intertwined with loving them and being loved by them in our interactions, our relationships.  If what I treasured was wealth or fame, then I would be caught up in money, possessions, and other people’s opinions, linking up my identity with them.  And I can see how that wouldn’t be good.  Either way, however… I see that I would be treasuring finite things. Continue reading

Respecting Death: an Odd Family Tradition

I’m a stickler for family traditions.  Therefore, as I told my doctor, my preferred way to die is of some kind of cardiac incident in a church.

That was how my maternal grandmother died – and how her mother died before her!  And both in the same little church of St. Henri in my mother’s French-Canadian hometown…

Their Death Stories

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The Newlyweds

Every story has a beginning.  This is a picture of mine:

parents on their way

Just Married, © 2017 DivineIncarnate.com, All Rights Reserved

My parents, just married, about to head off for their honeymoon and the rest of their lives…

My mother, young, and stylish as always, sits herself in the car, looking up at my father, her sad eyes lit with joy and a sparkling kind of expectation.  My father, looking like a younger, milder Clark Gable, holds the door for her, taking a last gaze at friends in the distance, standing relaxed, proud, and self-assured.  The picture is almost perfect –  except for the dark clouds ahead of them.

This is a picture of my beginning: a relationship of love and hope, full of plans, heading off into what is really the unknown.  Neither of them knew that they were carriers of a debilitating disease, that their future life would consist of taking care of their youngest child as a child for over 40 years.  Inclement weather ahead.

The dark clouds are there, no doubt – but, so is the love and commitment.  The vows that they made that day before God created a marriage, and, through that marriage, I came to be.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, the promises they made to each other have carried them through many storms – carrying me with them.

Mother’s Day is around the corner and Father’s Day won’t be far behind.  Next week, my parents will be celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary.  And, so, it is with much respect, appreciation, and gratitude that I look upon this snapshot of my beginning.  For, I was created in a bond of love and joy, that no dark clouds can overcome.  Thank you, Mom and Dad!

© 2017 Christina Chase

A Prayer before Eating

This is the famous 1918 photograph by Eric Enstrom called “Grace”.

 grace by Enstrom framed

It has hung in the dining room of my parents’ house since before I was born. Interestingly, although my mother was raised by a devout family in a very religious village, her family never said “grace” – a prayer said before eating. It’s hard to say whether or not my father’s family did… probably they didn’t, except, I would guess, on holidays and, then, probably only at his aunt or older sister’s promptings. This helps to explain why my parents never said a prayer at mealtime when they were married. Not until my older sister changed things. Continue reading