You'll likely think I'm crazy for saying so, but yesterday was a respite.

I woke shortly after four in the morning to be ready to leave with Louis (in the freezing pre-dawn) before five. Dropped Louis off at church for men's ministry at six, had my lab work drawn by shortly after seven (my phlebotomist was awesome - one painless stick), returned to the church to pick up Louis and get to my ortho surgeon by eight.

By noon I'd had knee x-rays, a long conversation about stem cell treatments using my own stem cells versus knee resurfacing surgery, a cortisone injection in one knee, another long conversation with my primary doctor about the pleural effusion and high blood pressure and a multitude of diagnostics, breakfast (brunch, really) with Louis at an empty and much-too-expensive cafe (but the coffee was good and hot and did wonders for my headache), a delightful conversation with our insurance agent (which may have made writing our homeowners insurance check a little less painful), used the extended warranty on my laptop to get a new (free) battery from Best Buy, bought a birthday present for Gavin, and picked up a prescription (for the effusion), BP meds (for the obvious) and a handful of groceries.

But it was a respite. Days of being grounded, an anti-inflammatory gel (so much better for me), and the prayers of dear, dear friends and a pastor who always prays for me (thank you, Eric) have born fruit - and I can walk, slowly, write letters and pull sweaters on over my head with much less pain. I've slept two whole nights without a narcotic, and delighted in backyard swing time in the sun (with more good coffee and my Christmas 2010 gratitude journal) and a short walk by the creek this afternoon. Huge progress. Respite.

But it's humbling to be needy. I'm the caregiver, the one who washes the feet of others. I don't take kindly to being grounded and needing my own feet washed. I ought to be able to fix and take care of myself and just toughen up and keep on going, I think.

Emily read to me today from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader...about the dragon and Aslan and how the dragon wanted to be different and would peel off the scales but there would just be another layer of the same scales...he needed Aslan to do the peeling.

We work so hard to make everything in our lives perfect....a perfect home...with perfect children...and a perfect Christmas tree...and it never happens, of course, when it's us doing the working...and then grace opens our eyes and we see that Perfection in a Person makes what seems at first to be one more imperfection to be instead an act of love from His hands. That nothing escapes His eye...He knows we are broken and stumbling across cracks and pits...and every day He gives more light for the journey.

Oh what a gift that is, don't you think? I can almost see God putting the wreath package in the hands of someone He knew would break the pieces. Is that not an amazing grace? I marvel, still, at my perfectly broken wreath and how it ministers to me in ways I could not have imagined.

The photos: My respite afternoon. The snake? Would you believe it was dead? Louis found it Tuesday, belly up in the grass. Probably froze to death. It was still in the same place this afternoon. In it's death stiffness, that's how it looked when I flipped it over with a stick in the grass. I'm surprised that a hawk has not found it to be prime prey.