Saturday, November 2, 2013

Stress

It's a lovely grey fall Saturday morning and I'm logging into my blog for the first time in over a month. A Disney Pixar movie is playing in the background, laundry is whirling in the washer and dryer, my sweats and hoodie and fuzzy socks are unbelievably comfy, and this mint hot cocoa is delicious.

Life has been stressful lately. The kind of stress that you can't do anything to stop. Life happens and  often it's rather crappy.

Stress comes in so many forms and fashions.

There is the stress of fighting insurance companies.

There is the stress of huge bills that the insurance policy won't touch. 

There is the stress of living with chronic illness.

There is the stress of injuries that never heal.

There is stress of possible looming surgeries.

There is the stress of endless medical appointments.

There is the stress of balancing two jobs and paying the bills and still maintaining a life.

There is the stress of having nowhere that feels like your own home.

There is the stress of watching the grandpa you love disappear almost completely.

There is the stress of watching your dad and aunt and uncles deal with the deeply hurtful and complicated process of helping aging parents.

There is the stress of chronically sick siblings.

These stresses (and more) have been trying to suffocate me the past couple months. My response has been to drown myself in junk food and sitcoms and dramas.

These stresses, these things that threaten to overwhelm, they're not extra special or extra big or in any way more than what the average person deals with on a daily basis. 

This world is full of pain and injustice and unfairness; it's full of brokenness and stress.

It steals joy and peace and simplicity and balance and happiness if we let it.

It can steal creativity and the ability to pause and process and write.


It is now Saturday afternoon and a few more loads of laundry have gone through and a few more dishes have been washed and clean sheets put on the bed and How The Grinch Stole Christmas is playing in the background while I eat my late lunch.

And amidst these simple Saturday activities, I've been thinking and pondering and I'm determined to cut the crap and not let stress have such a hold on me.

Priorities need to be shifted and attitudes changed and old habits kicked and new habits formed. 

Again.

So here is a public declaration... 

...to spend less time stressing and more time talking to Jesus.

...to eat less junk food and comfort food and work out again

...to read more good books and watch less TV shows

...to spend more time journaling and blogging and less time freaking out in my head

...to stick with the budget but not hyperventilate and obsess about it 

...to get the medical attention I need and trust God for the finances

...to fight the insurance company with peace in my heart no matter what the outcome

Because who we are is not determined by our experiences or trials or stresses but by how we respond to each of those curveballs that life throws at us.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Water


A couple days ago I noticed a plant here where I'm house sitting that I seriously didn't even know was there (apparently, I'm blind).

And because I blindly didn't realize it was there, it hadn't been watered when the other plants were.

It was looking very, very sad and droopy and I was so upset with myself because I was convinced I had let this big potted plant die.

I dumped a couple pitchers of water on it (making up for lost time, ya know?) and hoped for the best.

Okay, I may have even said a prayer or two for this plant.

I looked at it around 11:00 that night before I got in bed and I could not believe it.

It's tall and green and huge and bright and happy again.

It doesn't even look like the same plant.

And then I thought about myself...

Obviously, if I don't drink enough water, I get really droopy and feel really awful.

Sometimes due to the Crohn's disease, even when I am drinking enough water, my body doesn't absorb it and I still get dehydrated. (Yay for IV's!)



It's the same way for my spiritual health.

If I'm not getting enough of the Living Water, I get droopy and awful.

If I'm not spiritually healthy enough to absorb the water, sometimes it takes being poked and prodded to be able to absorb the Living Water.

Sometimes it even involves a little pain and blood.

This week it's been hitting me that we can't drink a couple gallons of the Living Water one day and expect to be healthy for the rest of the week.

We need daily sustenance so we don't get dehydrated.

And that is really, really, really convicting to me.

Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall giv him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 
John 4:13-14

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Slow

If I had to choose one word to describe the past week, it would be slow.


Slow, slow, slow.

This recovery is going so slowly and making for a very slow week and making me a very slow person.

(Yeah, yeah. I can hear you guys making smart comments and laughing at me. You know who you are.)

It's been one of those weeks where I either choose to laugh or cry.

Every plan or schedule or list I've made, has been changed or thrown out completely.

There have been a few tears but I'm so happy and thankful to say that I've mostly been able to  choose laughter.

I've had friends and family ask me if I'm okay because I laugh so freaking hard at such little things.

It's stress relief. And it's the best medicine.

But I digress.


Slow has not been part of my vocabulary for a long, long, long time.

But when I find myself canceling (very much looked forward to) plans left and right, I realize just how full and nonstop and crazy and fast my life has been.

The hours and days and weeks and months have been packed with good things: very good things.

There's been canoeing and running and coffee chats and fairs and ministry and cookouts and bonfires and shopping trips and dinner dates and weekend get aways and long hours at work and gun shooting and weddings and parties and and cupcakes and sports and family gatherings and staying up half the night to play a crazy game and trips to the beach and so many more things that I can't even remember because all the craziness runs together.

(For the record, I don't regret any of it. This summer was amazing.)

And then all of a sudden I was laying in a hospital bed and everything came to a screeching halt.


And life is slow.

Very, very slow.

I'm having to learn what to do with slow. 

Honestly, I don't think I even remembered what slow is.

And ya know what? Slow is good.

It's slow mornings with candles and books.

It's slow evenings with bubble baths and magazines.

It's slow days filled with writing and reading and studying scripture and watching shows.

It's writing my Compassion kids.

It's getting more sleep.

It's eating the right things.

It's relearning how to feel and truly breathe and actually process life.


I'll admit: I can't wait until "slowing down" isn't quite this slow. This kind of slow can't last forever in order for life to go on as it needs to go on (I need to work more than five hours a day, for instance).

I can't wait until I'm able to run a 5k again because right now doing ten squats leaves me winded.

I can't wait until I can go help a friend clean or paint or bring someone a meal.

I can't wait until I can arrive at work before 11:00am.

I can't wait until I can grab all my younger siblings and go do something crazy and active and fun.

I can't wait until I'm well enough that "slow" can include things like a lazy canoe trip down the Rock River or hiking in the Kettle Moraine or meeting a friend for coffee on a Saturday morning.

But really, I can wait.

I'll wait as long as I need to (because Lord knows, I realize that I have to listen to my body or it's not. good. at. all.)

If there's one thing I've learned the past week, it's that I have to let go of my schedules and plans and let God work according to His.

And all I have to say is this: His are very, very, very different from mine.

That's okay. 

That's good. 

It grows and stretches and strengthens my faith and trust.

It helps me appreciate the little things even more.


Life is full of different seasons and phases and I know that craziness will very much be a part of my life for the foreseeable future. 

But my goal is that amidst the craziness that life brings, I'll remember to slow down and truly live each moment.

Because they go so fast.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, to spend a year there, buy and sell, and make profit; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is life? It is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.
James 4:13-15



(Photos taken on my iPhone5)

Monday, September 2, 2013

candles and fire

This morning I'm thankful that it's a long weekend.

God's timing is always so great, even through the really hard things. I can't express how happy I am that it's a three-day weekend so I have more recovery time.

I love the slow and quiet mornings (even if they are filled with a lot of physical pain).


...the burning candles

...the music playing over the speakers in the kitchen

...the Isagenix protein shake on the back deck in the cool fall-ish air

...the time with my golden retriever

...the great devotional

...the stack of fun magazines


Below is an excerpt from what I read in Streams in the Desert this morning.

"The world's finest china is fired in ovens at least three times, and some many more. Dresden china is always fired three times. Why is it forced to endure such intense heat? Shouldn't once or twice be enough? No, it is necessary to fire the china three times so the gold, crimson, and other colors are brighter, more beautiful, and permanently attached.

"We are fashioned after the same principle. The human trials of life are burned into us numerous times, and through God's grace, beautiful colors are formed in us and made to shine forever.
Cortland Myers
(emphasis added)

These words really resonate with me today. This morning has held a lot of pain, nausea, and heat waves again. Quite honestly, it's been horrible. But I know that, if I allow it, these times are making me a stronger person. They're making me brighter and better.

And seriously...who doesn't want to be a stronger, brighter, better, shinier person? (smile)

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Honesty and Shower Drains and Slowing Down

It's Sunday. 

The beginning of a new week.

This time it's the beginning of a new month.

The beginning of a new season.

After the week I just had, I like the thought of looking ahead to new things.

Laying in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV is not how I planned on spending my week.

It was so shocking, so unexpected. 

(See this blog post about my last hospitalization. I could write the same thing all over again.)

For the first half of my hospital stay, I lived in denial, numbing myself to truly feeling what was happening.

By Thursday, when I was getting worse again, I was losing my mind.

Lies upon lies about myself, about life, about God were swirling around in my head nonstop

I was terrified to stop and feel what was happening because I knew it would involve a lot of tears.

Being honest with God went hand in hand with being honest with myself. And because of the lies and anger I was facing, that was also on the list of "I don't want to do this".

But Thursday late afternoon, I got in the shower so the nurses and doctors and chaplains and surgeons and PA's and gift shop people and lab people and just everyone would leave me alone.

And I gave in to the tears.

There was swearing and praying and punching the shower wall and crumbling onto the shower floor.

Did I mention the tears?

But most importantly, there was honesty.

Honesty about way more than was going on in the hospital and in my body.

Honesty about things I didn't even know I needed to be honest about.

So much more than leg hairs and soap suds got washed down that shower drain in hospital room 4623.

Life gets so crazy and busy and insane and the important things like honesty and being still and prayer get shoved off the platter.

And that is so. not. right.

It's not healthy on so many levels.

Sometimes I'm so stupid that it takes being knocked flat on my back in a hospital bed in order to wake me up out of the funk of over-busyness.

And I am not proud of that.

I firmly believing in giving everything I have, serving with all my heart, working hard and to the best of my ability, playing really hard, and being completely sold out for Christ.

But I'm learning that I can't do that unless I take care of myself and take time to be still. It is just not possible.


Here is to taking time to make a menu, go grocery shopping, cook, and eat healthy (not just takeout and protein bars).

Here is to going running and taking time for circuit training and weights.

Here is to getting eight hours of sleep.

Here is to having a few weeknights and weekends with nothing on the calendar.

Here is to taking time to be quiet and still.

Here is to sitting down and reading or writing.

Here is to actually digging into the Bible and praying my way through it.

Here is to candles and bubble baths and a bit of wine.

This is not going to be easy. I don't suddenly have less to do. Heck, every weekend in September already has something on the calendar (all-weekend things, mind you).

But here is to making it happen anyway. 

Here is what I have seen: It is a good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 
(Ecclesiastes 5:18)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rainy Day Quiet

Life has been absolutely non-stop the past few months. There has hardly been a moment to stop and really think or refocus or organize or plan or dream or write. 


But on this glorious grey and rainy day, I am choosing quiet.

My soul needs it.

My heart needs it.

My mind needs it.

My body needs it.

Rainy day music is playing from the songza app on my iphone, the windows are wide open so the sound of falling rain can fill my ears and heart, a cozy blanket is keeping me warm, coffee is brewing, a candle is twinkling, and I am actually writing for the first time in months (while crunching down a bowl of Special K).

Aside from lack of sleep, this weekend has been almost perfect. 

State Fair on Friday night with a beautiful friend...

I finally ate gelato for the first time...and all I have to 
say is that it most certainly won't be the last.

We rode the sky glider...so relaxingly fun. And we ate chocolate 
dipped cheesecake on a stick...so delightfully delicious.


Friends <3

Fun on the rides

Saturday morning we got up and headed to inner city Milwaukee to do ministry outreach with a new church plant. For a small town girl who has never done anything like that, it was a hugely eye opening experience. My heart grew a few sizes and I can't wait to go back.






Saturday night we headed back into Milwaukee for live music at a coffee shop with more friends. We talked and laughed and danced and sipped coffee and split a huge peanut butter chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.




And now here I sit in a beautiful, quiet, empty house. House/fish sitting for friends is actually just a wonderful and needed vacation. My sister is staying with me and she'll be back soon with a movie and has promised to make quesadillas. I'll take a soak in the jacuzzi later in the day. My Beth Moore Bible study that has sat untouched for way too long will be dug into. An early bedtime has already been set.

It's been a rough past few weeks and I am thankful for this much needed weekend of fun and ministry and quiet and rest. God is the Giver of all good gifts and this weekend is full of them. The rough weeks have been full of them too. He makes all thing work together for good and He is making that abundantly bright and clear lately.

This poem is included in today's Streams in the Desert reading. I find it so appropriate for this day.

Last night I heard a robin singing in the rain,
And the raindrop's patter made a sweet refrain,
Making all the sweeter the music of the strain.

So, I thought, when trouble comes, as trouble will,
Why should I stop singing? Just beyond the hill
It may be that sunshine floods the green world still.

He who faces the trouble with a heart of cheer
Makes the burden lighter. If there falls a tear,
Sweeter is the cadence in the song we hear.

I have learned your lesson, bird with spotted wing,
Listening to your music with it's tune of spring--
When the storm cloud darkens, it's the TIME to sing.

Eben Eugene Rexford 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hurt People

Tonight something hit me that I never thought of before.

I've heard the saying "hurt people hurt people" countless times in my life and I always thought of it in context of those who have been deeply, deeply hurt (abuse, etc.) over the course of many years and now live in a constant state of hurt and bitterness (thus hurting those around them).

This evening I suddenly thought of it differently, after a minor incident in which I was hurt by someone. It was enough to make me upset and I found myself snapping at two of my sisters when they tried to talk with me.

And then I was like, darn. it.

I was hurt by someone and now I'm hurting those I love!

Crap.

It hit me like a brick. Hurt people really do hurt people. Whether it's "little" instances/hurts or big ones. It doesn't matter.

I quickly changed my attitude and apologized. I absolutely do not want to develop a pattern of hurting people when I am hurting.

Thank God, Who is the Healer of all hurts.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday Nights and Writing

Apparently I have this thing for writing on Friday nights (okay, to be technical here, it's Saturday morning but whatever).

It's been a crazy rollercoaster of a week since last Friday night.

A horrible, horrible weekend of whacked hormones, depression like I've never had, a migraine that sent me to the emergency room, and more tears than should ever fill a weekend.

Amidst the horribleness, I got some of the happiest news I've gotten in my entire life. But that is for another blog post at another time. (wink)

Monday and Tuesday I only worked half days (mostly to maintain enough emotional sanity to keep myself from murdering someone).

Wednesday brought the beginning of some relief from the hormonal-ness (it was part of the nutritional, cellular cleansing I'm doing, which, aside from this, has gone amazingly well and makes me feel good!) I was able to work a full day again (yay paycheck).

Thursday I worked in the morning and then went to Madison for my bi-monthly Remicade infusion for Crohn's disease. Never a fun thing and I just can't think about what's dripping into my body through that three-hour IV session. But I chatted and laughed with the nurses and watched stuff on Hulu and my sister sat next to me the whole time.

After my infusion all I wanted to do was nap but we went to a park and walked a path by the lake and it was peaceful and gorgeous and so worth it.

Then we went to an Isagenix gathering that was so encouraging and full of information for a IsaNewbie like me (think I should patent that label I just created? Most of you probably won't get that but whatever).

I'm so thankful for the Isagenix company and products and people. A month into it and I'm so excited and grateful. Overall, I'm feeling better, am working out harder than I've ever been able to, and lost about ten pounds in the first four weeks! Yippee.

Today I worked a full day and then ran errands (ya know, produce & chicken for me, food for the dog, gas for the car...fun stuff!)

Then it was coming home and getting the chicken breasts into two homemade marinades for grilling tomorrow and putting produce away and making myself a healthy supper and then playing and laughing (and laughing) with the cute little kids we're caring for this weekend.

gummy bears, Talking Tom on the iPhone, tickling, laughing, 
squealing...and all cozied up in my great grandmother's old chair

Before I knew it the clock said 10:00pm and I needed to clean the (disastrous) kitchen and put my comfies on and tell myself that playing with the kids instead of working out was the healthiest decision I made all day.

Then it was time to go to bed but I caught a dear friend on iChat that I haven't talked with in MONTHS and before I knew it we had chatted until midnight. (Hi, Meagen!) Sometimes the best conversations happen long after one is supposed to be in bed for the night. So thankful for opportunities to catch up heart-to-heart on life.

And now it's almost 1:00am and my gut is screaming at me and I'm thinking I most definitely (and most unknowingly) ate the wrong thing tonight. Apparently brussel sprouts looking good does not equal them sitting well in my Crohn's gut. At least, that is the only thing I can come up with because I don't think I've felt like this since starting Isagenix a month ago. Just praying I can fall asleep because it's looking doubtful.

I read this post tonight by a blogger I have loved and followed for years and years. I love it. I love it a lot. It inspired me to keep on writing, even when I feel like I have absolutely-nothing-at-all-whatsoever that is profound enough or witty enough or funny enough or wise enough or true enough to share with the world wide web.

But writing (even if it's about nothing, like this post) is good for my soul. 

Writing is good for my heart and my mind and my daily existence.

Thanks to my dear Meagen for reminding me of that while we chatted tonight. And thanks to Ashleigh for reminding me of that through her beautifully simple, yet profound, blog post.

Writing is a beautiful thing; especially after a rough week.

Happy weekend.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sometimes...

When I got on here to start writing, I found it so ironic that my last post was on being thankful. Because, ohmyfreakingword, thankful is not how I would describe my past couple of days.

Sometimes depression comes out of nowhere and knocks you flat.

Sometimes distress is your closest friend.

Sometimes tears are constantly knocking on your eyeballs, begging to be let free onto your cheeks.

Sometimes more strong language goes through your head than you would ever dare say out loud.

Sometimes life hurts.

Sometimes life hurts a lot and what you've been able to ignore (or cope with) for months comes to the surface and life gets ugly.

Ugly.

Sometimes life is just ugly.

Yes, there are moments of beauty, and yes, there are always a bajillion things to be thankful for, and yes, there are a thousand things that could be worse.

But darn it all, it's still ugly.

It still has more hurt and frustration and confusion and fear and pain and suffering and injustice than one can handle.

Learning how to live in this world of pain is a life-long journey. The seasons change and the years go by and some pain stays the same and new pain comes and once in a while a former pain dies.

Tonight I don't have the answers. 

Tonight I'm bone tired after a very long week and I just want to turn off my brain and sleep for days (but am leaving for kickboxing at 7:00 tomorrow morning...the things I do to myself).

Tonight my heart physically hurts from the emotional hurts.

Tonight I've consumed too much chocolate.

Tonight I'll keep fighting those freaking tears.

Tonight I will listen to "Need You Now" by Plumb.

Because tonight "I need You" is about all I can cry out to God. 

And tonight I'll trust Him to hear those words and have mercy on my weakness.

Amidst all the pain and change, He is the One thing that never changes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Being Thankful

It's been two weeks since I've written. Every time that much time goes by between my writing sessions, I become more convinced that I probably should never be a writer as a full-time job. If I don't have inspiration, I don't write.

Tonight I don't have much inspiration. But I really miss writing. So we shall see where this post goes.

I'm sitting here on the back deck of my parents' home, my golden retriever laying beside me, my baby sister chatting my ear off, and my MacBook on my lap.

The breeze is getting cooler after a delightfully warm spring day.

Slippers are keeping my feet warm and my favorite hoodie is providing its usual comfiness. 

Sandhill cranes are calling to each other.

Many other birds are chirping and singing.

The trees are blossoming and the grass is bright green.

My nutritional shake is on the table and I'm reminded how thankful I am for these new products that have been introduced to me in the past few weeks. 

(And if you want to hear about them and the great weight, health, energy, and performance benefits, please contact me.)

Each day and each week is filled with its own challenges and yet there is so much for which to be thankful.

When overwhelmed with sadness over my grandfather's mental decline and the tremendous burden that is to my grandma and my dad especially, I'm reminded to be thankful for the example of faithfulness in marriage that my grandparents are to me. I hope I never forget my grandma saying through her tears, that when she vowed "for better for worse, in sickness and in health", she meant every word. 

When filled with fear at the thought that Dad could have another heart attack at anytime, I'm reminded to give thanks that God spared his life during his first one three weeks ago.

When concerned about finances, I'm reminded that God has always provided for every need, no matter how big the bill or expense.

When deeply concerned about struggling family relationships, I'm reminded to be thankful for the Christian family in which I grew up, a family free of divorce, and filled with God's Word.

When discontent with my current living arrangements, I'm reminded to be thankful for a safe home to live in right now and for some time living in the gorgeous countryside. 

I read Philippians two yesterday while I was laying on a blanket soaking up the sunshine. The whole  chapter is convicting, but verse twelve jumped off the page.

"Do all thing without complaining and disputing."

Ouch. ALL THINGS.

ALL. FREAKING. THINGS.

One of the biggest secrets I've discovered to not complaining, is being thankful.

If I'm noticing all the things I have for which to be thankful, filling my mind and heart with praise and gratitude, there isn't as much space for negative attitudes and thoughts.

My view while I typed.
(A friend pointed out that better music selection would help with my writing. I happened 
to snap the pic when that's what was on my screen for the brief bit that I was listening to that song. :P)


It's now almost 9:00pm. I took a break from writing and went for a walk/run with my baby sister and pooch. Such a gorgeous evening to work out outside!

Tomorrow is another long work day so I must sign off. 

Thank You, God, for all Your kindness to me.

Here's to a complaint-free tomorrow!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Post-Heart Attack Scribblings

It's been one week now since we almost lost my dad to a heart attack.

And when I say almost, I mean his heart stopped pumping and they had to shock him twice to bring him back while he was being med-flighted to Madison.

I've wanted to write about this all week. I've thought about. I've wished I could write. 

But I'm still processing all the emotions, all the what ifs, all that transpired in those few short hours. 

The phone call from my sister that made me crumble to the floor, sobbing harder than I knew I even could.

The prayers and hugs from my pastor and church family who "happened" to be near me at the time.

The myriad of phone calls to family and friends.

The ride to my parents' house to pick up my younger siblings.

The eternity-long drive to Madison, not knowing if he'd be dead or alive when we got there.

The walk across the skybridge to the cardiac elevators at the hospital.

Finding my mom and other siblings in the cardiac ICU waiting room.

Hearing that his heart had stopped pumping but that they were able to bring him back.

Waiting for the cardiac surgeon to come out and talk with us.

The arrival of my family's pastor and some of my parents' closest friends.

The cardiac surgeon coming out and telling us how "lucky" Dad is (and we are).

The questions and answers.

More phone calls.

News that Dad had been moved from recovery to his ICU room and that all EIGHTEEN of us could go in and see him.

Walking in and seeing his face and hearing his voice.

The HUGE circle of family and church family surrounding his entire bed and absolutely filling that ICU room.

The circle of prayer.

The tears.

The laughter.

The squeezing of his hand and getting to kiss him on the cheek.

The running around of our friends to get us supper at 11:00pm.

The figuring out what siblings would stay in Madison with Mom.

The long drive back home in the wee hours of the morning.

The trying to fall asleep.

The waking up after way too little sleep and instantly beginning to receive and handle all the phone calls, texts, emails, etc.

The extreme emotional and physical exhaustion.

The outpouring of love and food from friends and church family.

The drive back down to Madison to see Dad again and bring supper to the family members that had been there all day.

The trying to get back to normal life after almost having our whole world shattered.

The shaking up, the wake up call, the fears of knowing this could happen again.

This is what I'm trying to process. 

And I'm learning I need to patient with myself and allow this process to draw me closer to my Savior and to my family.

We sang this song during worship this morning and it made me all teary.

In the mean time, I'm just so thankful.

Thankful that I still have a father on this earth.

Thankful for the incredible love and support our family has received over the past seven days.

Thankful for Tom & Amy, Mike & Robyn, Greg, Sarah, & Isaiah who came down and were with us that night in the hospital. It meant the world.

Thankful for Subway pizzas at 11:00pm.

Thankful for doctors and nurses who God used to save my dad's life.

Thankful that his heart didn't stop pumping before he got to medical care.

Thankful for the dozens and dozens and dozens of people praying.

Thankful for so many moments of laughter during this week that could have been the most tragic and tear-filled of our lives.

Thankful for all the food that has kept my family fed this past week.

Thankful to go to worship with my family and hear the testimonies from last Sunday night from the perspective of both my dad and our friends who were with us that night.

Thankful to hear my dad's voice during the praise and worship time.

I'm just so thankful.

So I'll continue to work through the emotions, continue to learn to trust God instead of living in constant fear of the next heart attack, continue to count the innumerable blessings in my life and be thankful in all things.

God is so good.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

a beautiful evening

After being inside at work all day, there was no way I was staying inside after work, no matter how tired I was.


With a quick call to my family, a quick reheated supper, and a quick change of clothes, I headed out to the country for a walk with my pooch and my siblings.

Right after I pulled in the driveway, three neighbor kids rode their bikes up the (long) driveway, calling out "hiiii!" as they came. They are ages five, eight, and nine ("well, almost"), I found out after a few introductions. 

My family and I haven't interacted with the neighbors a lot over the years. Christmas time and a handful of other times through the year and that's about it. Life is busy for all the families & couples on our road (just like everybody else, right?). I say that to preface what I'm about to type below... 

One of the first things that the eight-year-old girl said is this: "We're just riding down the road and saying hi to all the neighbors!"

And I was like, darn, girl. Us adults need to take some lessons from you!

When do I ever take the time to just "ride down the road and say hi to all the neighbors"? When do I take time to write my grandparents (like my to-do list has been reminding me to do for weeks)? When do I take the time to just call a random contact in my phone to say hi?

It's still hitting me (obviously). We can learn so much from the kids around us.

So after a few of my siblings came outside and a few hoops of basketball were shot and a few glasses of water were brought out to our thirsty bike riding neighbor kiddos, my younger siblings and I headed down the road for a walk of our own.

We had my dog with us, we snapped photos on my iPhone, we ran, we laughed, we bounced a basketball, we discussed "swearing" (and wondered if our neighbors overheard as we walked by...would have been quite interesting!), we laughed some more, and we just got lots of gorgeous fresh air.

During my time out there and on my drive back into town, I kept reminding myself to take "mental pictures". 

I don't want to get so caught up capturing the wonderful little moments on my iPhone that I forget to capture them in my heart.

The sun shining off my golden retriever's hair.

My baby sister puckering her lips and pretending to be crushed after I "mocked" her.

My tall little bro rehashing stories of how the tall-er little bro picked on him.

The laughter, oh the laughter!

The sun shining off the lakes of melting snow, with silhouettes of the goose couple standing in it.

The sun setting over the neighbor's barn.

The passionate discussions about life.

The trickling of the rivers of melting snow.

Our  five (six, including my pooch) shadows walking ahead of us as we headed home.

Climbing up a mountain of plowed snow along the driving and laughing hysterically at our slipping and sliding and the dog doing a belly slide down and then racing back up.


All these precious little moments that go so quickly and are gone forever.

But the memories and the love will last a lifetime.

I'm so very thankful for that.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lazy Saturday

It's 5:00pm and I'm still in my pajamas. 

I never got my contacts in, never got a brush through my hair. 

Up until this moment, my food for the day consisted of a piece of peanut butter toast, a mug of foamy chai, a granola bar, dark chocolate, and a chocolate chip cookie (or two).

Now I'm eating a cheddar cheese and pepperoni quesadilla. And dipping it in sour cream. 

It's like pizza and Mexican colliding in my mouth.

I've spent the whole entire day on my MacBook. Writing, reading, writing, reading, playing around with my new website that I'm attempting to create.

It has been wonderful. I've been dreaming and making a life list and writing and designing and reading random blogs that I didn't even know existed. 

After a horrible, awful, no good week, it's been just what I needed.

And I'm so thankful.

Lazy Saturdays are the bomb-diggity. 

I'm off to get another blob of sour cream.

And grab another chocolate chip cookie.

Happy weekend, y'all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When a Hospitalization Drains Me of Everything

It's 10:42pm and my head is pounding. My gut is still hurting. I have more needle pricks and medical tape residue on me than should be legal.

So very thankful that my hospital room was on the side facing the lake. 
Such a gift.

I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

And yet this need to write, to tap these keys on my MacBook into words, is so pressing that I hardly have a choice but to type them out.

This hospitalization has left me more drained mentally and emotionally than usual. I appreciate each and every single text, voicemail, card, or Facebook message/comment but I just do not have the energy to respond to nearly all of them. (And I mean truly appreciated every. single. one. You guys don't even know how much they help me make it through each day.) 

Usually I blog at least once during each hospitalization. This one left me empty, with nothing to scribble from my keyboard.

It wasn't until  I was being wheeled down the hallways after going through the discharge papers that the words started just flying around in my head. 

It's like moving into a different world when living in a hospital, whether it's twenty-four hours or twenty-four days. When being wheeled out of the wing I was staying in (in a wheelchair with no foot rests but that's another story), it was like being released from prison. 

And then we went down the elevator to the first floor and we strolled over the skywalk and past the waterfall and down the hall overlooking the garden, and I suddenly wanted to cry.

That waterfall, that garden, those halls, they hold so many memories from last summer. 

Walks through the garden with my siblings and parents.

Watching the water tumble down the waterfall next to the workout room.

My brother lifting my IV pole up and down the stairs in the back part of the garden.

That one bench in that one lounge that got washed in my tears of frustration and hurt after a difficult phone call last June.

It honestly is a bit of a second home. A home I'd prefer to not have to return to for a very long time but that's beside the point. While I don't like why I've had to spend so much time there, I am thankful for the lessons learned and the growth in relationship during those times.

At the same time, being chained to an IV pole, sleeping in a plastic covered bed that makes me all sweaty, being woken up at 5:45 each morning for blood draws, being told what I can and cannot eat or drink, having my freaking pee measured? Yeah, all that stuff isn't my favorite.

I'm glad I'm out of there. 

But I'm also grateful for the care when I need it. Although my prayer is that I won't need it for a long time. 

This whole flare and hospitalization was so random; so unexpected; just so hard to accept.

I thought I was doing better.

I thought the medications and nutritional supplements were working.

Darnit, I thought that I was past this.

At least for a long while.

The discouragement, the depression, the frustration, I cannot pretend it's not here.

I cannot be less than honest.

I must be real.

But part of being real is also writing how thankful I am.

So thankful that I made it over six months since my last hospitalization.

Thankful that I celebrated the six month mark, since it turns out that I didn't make it much further.

Thankful for the love of my family and friends.

Thankful for all the prayers (more than I'll ever know and that is so humbling).

Thankful for hospitals in my time of unbearable pain.

Thankful for awesome EMT's and ambulances.

Thankful for IV's and medications.

Thankful for fuzzy socks and blankets.

Thankful for flowers and other gifts of loveliness.

Thankful that God stays the same even when life is so freaking unpredictable.

Thankful for my gorgeous golden retriever who covered my face in kisses after I was released.

Thankful for understanding employers.

Thankful for the knowledge that my God will provide financially.

Thankful to know that I don't have to rely on my own strength to get back on my feet.

Thankful for life.

Even when it hurts.

A lot.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Early to Rise Challenge - The Midnight Edition on Adjusting Expectations

After a very rough couple of weeks dealing with health challenges and an oral surgery, I've spent this week working towards getting back to my goals for the Early to Rise Challenge. I missed three mornings over the weekend immediately following the surgery.

I honestly think it was partially God reminding me that ultimately He is sovereign over every little thing: even my ability to get out of bed. I have been so determined this month to do every. single. day. for the full thirty days. Surgery forced me to let go of that idealistic goal.

And now for the "Early to Rise Challenge - The Midnight Edition on Adjusting Expectations" post. (And possibly the longest blog post title in history; or at least the longest in this blog's history.)


I got in bed at 8:45, watched NCIS until 10:00 and then settled in to go to asleep. My handy new alarm clock app was set for 6:00am.

Everything was perfect.

Well, until the pain in my mouth increased to the most it's been in days. Actually, this new kind of pain is the first time it has really kept me from sleeping. The other pain was awful too but was easier to sleep with.

So here I am at midnight. I finally got up and ate a string cheese so that I can take Vicodin. I have my "sleepy playlist" playing on my alarm app. It's doing its job but I have to say it's failing miserably at putting me to sleep.

The alarm clock is about to be switched to 7:30. I'm still fighting infection and can't deny my body of too much sleep or the hospital may just be my new home for a night. And seriously, I'd like to avoid that if at all possible.

Adjusting expectations and goals is not my favorite thing to do; especially when those expectations and goals are good things. Rising early has so many benefits and has been a real growing experience for me. Letting go of my ideal plan for being up by 6:30 every morning has honestly been hard for me. I'm an all or nothing person (almost to a fault). 

The best way to look at this right now (at least the best way my foggy, exhausted, drugged brain can come up with) is this: I'm learning more lessons by having my plans thrown off, by having my expectations adjusted, than I would have if these thirty days had gone "perfectly". 

There are more lessons. 

There is more growth.

There is more  character being built.

Jesus is becoming even more of my daily and hourly thoughts.

He's becoming more of my continual strength.

And that makes each painful, sleepless, tear-filled moment worthwhile.

(And makes it easier to switch that alarm clock to an hour and a half later.)

Because what I want is more of Him.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? 
Psalm 27:1

Saturday, March 9, 2013

One Desire



Tonight my heart is empty. 

Restless.

Confused.

Craving something.

Actually, I'm pretty sure it's craving Someone.

I listened to the song above. The title, "One Desire" convicts me before I even click play.

While I listened, I read the first part of Romans 8. Love that passage; it is full of comfort but also very convicting.

Lately my heart is divided. I think I need God and such-and-such to be happy.

God and a good job.

God and financial stability.

God and cute clothes.

God and a healthier body.

God and that shiny nail polish.

God and a place of my own.

I desire temporal things because I think they will make me happy.

Is this a conscious desire? Not always. In fact, it didn't fully hit me until today. Having lots of down time while waiting for my body to recover gives me lots of time to think and reflect.

(And time to make stupid purchases online. Can I blame the Vicodin for clouding my judgment?) 

This restlessness, this emptiness, it can't be filled by a move. It can't be filled by achieving my health and fitness goals. It can't be filled by "figuring out" all the hard issues in my life. It can't be filled by trying to be the best Christian I know how to be.

It can only be filled by the very presence of Christ. 

It can only be filled by allowing His love to live in my heart.

It can only be filled by accepting His amazing grace and His mercies that are new every morning.

He gives the Body of Christ to help nurture and grow that relationship with Him; to support me when life is tough. Only Jesus can make the hole in my heart whole. But He never expects me to walk this life solo without fellow Jesus-followers.

And I am so thankful for that.

Tonight as I lay in a bed that is not my own, as I hold an ice pack to my swollen post-surgery jaw, as my future is so uncertain and important relationships are rocky, my heart cry is this: Jesus, You are my desire. Only You can satisfy. You hold my future in Your hands and Your plans are good. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

And that is enough for tonight. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Hate the Dentist

I Hate the Dentist. 

I Hate Tooth Pain. 

I Hate Tooth Surgery. 

I Hate Stitches in My Mouth.

Any of these titles would work (amongst others).

But before I go any farther, here's a disclaimer. I am grateful for caring, skilled endodontists and oral surgeons; for kind and fun hygienists. I don't hate the people (usually). I hate the dentist as a place, a process, a procedure.

(I hate the torture.)

And here's another disclaimer. This is very long-winded. My apologies.

Culvers shake and a great movie with my mom after
 arriving home from the oral surgeon's office.

Okay. After two weeks of horrible tooth pain and an absolute roller coaster ride emotionally, I am so sick of my mouth, the pain, and bouncing between dental health care providers.

It actually started a few years ago. I noticed pain and sensitivity in one of my back right molars and asked my (then) dentist about it. He said he couldn't see anything so there wasn't a problem. All I have to say to that is this: BULL.

Anyway, being the kind of person who sucks it up and lives with it, that's exactly what I've done for the past few years.

Until two weeks ago.

I was eating a muffin of all things at my favorite Christian coffee shop. (Hello, Reachout friends!) As I sipped the best latte I've ever had (thanks, Hannah E!) and munched on the blueberry muffin, I chewed down just wrong. Holy crow did it hurt.

After a few days of chewing carefully and sipping on tea, I finally had to call a dentist because the pain and infection was spreading. 

He gave me a prescription for antibiotic and pain reliever and told me that I needed a root canal. Tough news to swallow when I heard the price tag attached to it. So I started praying for clear direction.

God clearly directed me to make an appointment with the endodontist. Clearly. Rarely have I ever prayed for direction and received such a clear answer.

Even with that direction, I still didn't know how exactly I was supposed to pay for it. So I started praying specifically for His provision. And He came through and met that need through some amazingly generous friends in Christ.

So. I went to the appointment for the root canal on Monday afternoon. However, after further testing and x-rays, it was determined that my tooth was cracked so severely it wasn't worth the money to try to save it.

That really threw me for a loop and was very hard to accept. God had clearly directed and provided the funds, plus I just hated the thought of losing my tooth and the process of having it removed. 

But I moved forward and made an appointment for the next morning to have it removed. The "normal" dentist here in town thought he could get it out. That turned out to be a nightmare. After many very painful attempts to make my tooth numb, all I had was very painful bruising in the back of my mouth and no progress towards getting the tooth out.

So it was off to an oral surgeon for a consult that afternoon. Between those appointments, I spent a while crying my eyes out. The emotional and physical trauma was more than I could take without letting out some of the built-up emotion. I don't think I've cried like that since my last hospitalization (or experienced that much physical pain).

The surgical extraction was scheduled for Thursday morning and on Wednesday I worked a full day. That was exhausting but a good way to keep my mind off the next morning. Thankful for those who prayed strength for me throughout the day!

Throughout these days, all of the antibiotics and pain medications were taking their toll on my gut with my Crohn's disease. So hard to balance caring for different issues. As my oral surgeon said to me, I'm stuck between a rock and hard place with this one: trying to  rid my body of infection (which is very dangerous with the meds I'm on for the Crohn's) but at the same time not destroy my gut (which is also dangerous with  my Crohn's). God is taking care of me!

And then Thursday morning arrived. I put on my sweatpants and slipper boots and tried to feel just as relaxed mentally and emotionally. (Tried.) My mom went with me since I (obviously) wouldn't be able to drive myself home.

I have to say that with the exception of one (horrible) receptionist, the care I received the day of the surgical extraction was phenomenal. I am very grateful for the care I was given...from going over paperwork, to getting the IV in, to putting on the oxygen mask, to turning on the music from my iPhone (yay for Josh Groban!), to giving me more sedation when I woke up crying (that was not fun).

The surgery was much harder, longer, and complicated than anyone was anticipating. The tooth was fused to my jaw bone. Apparently that made things very interesting.

Recovery has been interesting. It's been painful and humbling and I'm so thankful for the care I've been surrounded with. If you made me instant mashed potatoes or brought me a milkshake, you were my instant hero.

Tonight I'm thankful for pudding, ice cream, Ensure, TV shows, ice packs, Vicodin, Tylenol, water, chocolate milk, nail polish, chats with friends via Skype, iMessage, and text (so I didn't have to use my mouth to talk!), and the prayers of my family & friends.

I'm thankful for employers and co-workers who understand.

I'm thankful for a God who somehow has a good plan in all this.

I'm thankful to be alive.

And I'm thankful that it is not I who live, but  Christ who lives in me.

That is the reason to keep getting up each morning.

Even during the awful weeks.

I asked my brother to snatch this photo on my iPhone while we were driving 
back from Appleton last weekend. Gorgeous!