If Only… NASA, Amy, and Youth

Sometimes the difference between an intricate, highly complex machine working or blowing apart is down to a simple, small component’s integrity at one single moment in time. NASA learned this lesson the hard way in both the Challenger and Columbia disasters. In both cases, the defective components were made months and even years before either shuttle was assembled.

As the symptoms of my MS have progressed, I am reminded of how “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14) each of us truly are. Despite billions of dollars worth of research, centuries of learning about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and life-long careers devoted exclusively to trying to figure out what goes wrong to make MS activate, there is still so much we don’t know. In the early 1600s, German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler was correct when he described his study of planetary movements as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”. This statement is true in every avenue of mathematics and science, especially in the study of biology.

Somewhere, somehow, some way, long before I ever had any symptoms of my Multiple Sclerosis, all the viral, environmental, hereditary, and biological elements were just right to kick this disease into action in the biological petri dish that makes me me.

My immune system got all confused and started destroying itself. Thanks to MRIs, I have seen for myself the white smears and dots scattered across my brain and spinal cord where tell-tale signs of damage can be easily seen. It remains inexplicable how it happened, but that doesn’t stand in the way of it being true. All my progressive, worsening problems with balance, walking, incontinence, dropping things, quick and excessive fatigue, tingling, and slow processing are all due to these white globs that made their initial marks nearly thirty years ago.

It’s staggering to imagine that such small blobs etched out so long ago have created the big problems I deal with every day.

Hmm, I feel a life lesson coming on. Sometimes it’s the little, but wrong, things we allow ourselves to do early in life that eventually turn out to be our undoing in the end.

If only someone would have checked the integrity of the O-ring on the right solid rocket booster before the Challenger took off, seven lives would have been saved. If only one day we could figure out what causes MS and how to stop it before other people’s neurologic integrity becomes comprised and they end up going through a progressively worsening disease process. If only we ourselves strove to live Godly lives and to teach the young how to choose right, so many lives would flourish and God would be glorified. If only.

Sister Trip on Mom’s Birthday

Sister Trip on Mom’s Birthday

This past Monday was my Mom’s birthday, it was the fourth year my sister Susan and I celebrated it without her.  It’s always a tender kind of day for both of us, one that’s full of sweet memories hemmed in by missing her.  

This year Susan flew from Texas and I flew from Missouri to spend Mom’s birthday together in Florida.  Mom always loved that we were close as sisters and she would have thought this was an excellent idea! It certainly was, ummm…, an interesting experience for me flying solo. I was drug backwards through two terminals, in and out of three elevators, and on and off the sky train to get to my connecting flight to Orlando via Dallas. 

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We stayed at my sweet mother-in-law’s vacay house near New Smyrna Beach.  We filled our days with lots of reminiscing, stories both old and new, lots of laughter, and, of course, exceptionally good food!


We got sand in our toes and sea breeze in our hair the first full day.  The tide was in and the waves were white-capped one and all. That afternoon we discovered the scenic, old downtown sidewalks and stairs into nearly every store were not meant for me (or anyone else with limited mobility) to peruse, so we went back to the house and lounged the afternoon away.  


Mom took us girls to Epcot over spring break in 1988.  How can it have been that long ago?!  Yikes, we’re getting old!! Susan has been back since then but I haven’t.  So, we decided to go on Monday, November 4th, Mom’s birthday. Mercy, we enjoyed ourselves and know Mom would have approved of all the sights, sounds, and tastes!  We lucked into being there during the International Food and Wine Festival. We ate our way around the world and let our inner gluttony rule until we had made a full circle of the park.

As good as the other days had been, I think our last full day was probably my favorite.  We found a beautiful, quiet, out of the way, public park with a pier jutting out into an ocean inlet.  We sat and soaked up the Florida sun, the sounds of the leaves rustling through the palmettos, and the peacefulness of our surroundings since no one else was there.  

As we turned around to walk back along the pier to our rental car, we noticed a common egret perched on the wooden rails. It looked straight at us and then serenely continued to preen and go about his business as if it knew we were harmless.  Susan and I quietly inched our way closer taking picture after picture until we were no more than three feet away.  Egrets are very common shore birds in Florida and someone else residing there might have hardly noticed his presence. However, we were mesmerized by him and thought he was anything but common, as his name implies.  His feathers billowed in the wind and his black legs and toes were a beautiful contrast against his white body. And his eyes, his eyes! I’m positive he not only saw us but appraised us as he stared our way. We three stood in our strange, small huddle for several minutes with him posing and us snapping picture after picture. He was the one who had called our meeting together by his mere presence so it was only polite that he should be the one to adjourn it.  With a deep bend of his knees and a long stretch of his wings he was in flight, soaring over the waters and away from us. Susan and I talked about him and what a fascinating creature he was, but we were just one side of the experience. I’m back home in Missouri now but find myself thinking of him. I wonder if he thought anything at the time of the two women held in his charms and if we left any sort of lasting impression on him that he remembers now.

Much like the memories of our Mom, his brief encounter with us will linger and live on inside us.