When health lets you down

Health is a very elusive thing to quite a few people in this world. Those who are blessed to be truly healthy from birth to death, don’t always understand how draining it is to have a nagging, chronic illness.

Perhaps it’s a physical pain that never goes away. Or perhaps it’s a true disease that drains your mental health and physical body.

Pain, is in a way, a gift. It allows your body to realize that something is wrong. It means that the body is attempting to fix it, either internally or making sure you get external help. Pain is supposed to be good. It helps the mind recognize that the body is still alive and functioning. It’s a survival instinct.

It’s not an evolutionary instinct, but truly a God given gift. He gives us the ability to be able heal ourselves as well as the knowledge to remove ourselves from the very thing that hurts us.

The human mind and the human body are amazing for what they can put up with. But it is equally amazing what they can’t handle. Emotional anguish can affect the body just as much as an actual wound can, sometimes even more. Sometimes a simple little prick to the skin can equal death, while another person can survive falling on a steel bar that goes all the way through the body.

It’s the chronic pain though that is the hardest to deal with. It doesn’t allow the body to rest. It doesn’t allow the mind to find a solution. It can literally drive a person insane because the pain never ends. There isn’t a way to stop it. It can also drive us to do some truly drastic measures just to find a tad bit of relief. Cautious people throw their money at quacks just for the slim chance that their snake oil might take the edge off. Others try to numb themselves with drugs and alcohol. Still others spend months in the hospital trying to medically treat it with anything a doctor suggests.

We learn how to attempt to harness the pain enough that we can still have a life. But, we have to chose what is going to hurt the less, rather than what would be the most fun. We crave the oblivion of sleep, which is elusive, rather than just having fun with friends. We try to map out every little thing in our lives to attempt to figure what causes the pain to worsen so we might be able to steer away from it.

Chronic pain is so draining. Is it any surprise that many sufferers become chronically depressed as well? It affects every aspect of your life, your attitude from the pain can strain your relationships with loved ones. Sleep is elusive because there isn’t a lot of positions that will keep the pain manageable. So exhaustion makes our attitude just as bad because of that pain.

For me personally, chronic pain makes me not like myself too much. My sarcasm, which to begin with is never the sweetest, gets a sharper edge to it. Sometimes, it slips and can do some damage. It’s bad when you can’t stand yourself, because of something you can’t control.

I had hoped yesterday when I had exploratory laparoscopic surgery, I had really prayed and hoped that there was a reason for the pain. I was ready for what ever drastic measures had to have been done so I could live without pain.

It came back clear…

I was so disappointed. I still am. I hedged so much of my emotional welfare on the fact that there could be an end to the pain soon. Maybe in a few months…no such luck. It has really thrown me for a loop and having to realize that the excruciating pain in the back and front are things I’m going to have to live with for numerous more years.

Pain. It can be good for you. But like right now, it’s a monster that clings to my back and refuses to leave me alone.

God’s grace is in this though. I know that. I just have to struggle with the fact that nothing right now is going to change. And that’s really hard.

Where I am

So this last Friday was graduation for my former school. It’s already been a year since I walked across the stage to pick up my diploma and shake the hand of my dean of students.
A year.
I am so totally not where I thought I would be, but I think I am where I should be for this moment in time.
Right now as I write this, my uncle is in surgery to remove a large golf ball sized tumor from his frontal lobe. We don’t know what will happen, we don’t know how he will come out of it. Life is uncertain.
My mom is facing another surgery next month, this time to repair a hernia due to all of her other abdominal surgeries. Life is uncertain.
I’m finally in the process of trying to get to the bottom of my own health issues, which might take a bit of time. I finally will be seeing a specialist come next Monday. Life is uncertain.
I do not know where I will be when another year comes around. Right now, I do think I am where I need to be. I’m with my family. I’m working, and I am actually healthy even with all the oddities that are going on.
God is Good.
No matter what, no matter when, no matter where.
God is Good.
All the time.
And all the time, God is Good.
Life kicks us some times, sometimes it feels like we can’t get ahead no matter how hard we try. But we have to remember, Life is under no obligation to treat us well.
Life is uncertain because it is not written for us, only God has our instruction manual. He isn’t keeping us in suspense because he’s mean. We have to learn how to trust in the moment no matter what that moment might look like.
Admittedly, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
It is hard to trust God when you have no clue what is around the bend. But, for me at least, it’s easier to wait for that reveal when trusting God, than it is without him in my life.
I’ve been on both sides of the faithful/ non-faithful waiting games. I know God has it totally in control, whatever happens is by his design. My family is in his hands.
My uncle does not have a relationship with God, so I know going into the surgery early this morning had to be nerve wracking, because how do you have hope when you have nothing to hope in?
Ultimately, that is what I was worried about. My uncle, having major surgery when he doesn’t know God. This is versus my mom, having major surgery, again, who does have a relationship with God. My concern is vastly different between the two. I know exactly where if something were to happen, where I would see my mom again. I also know where my uncle could end up, and that does scare me.
But, God is good.
God gave us the freewill to choose where we wanted to end up. It is ultimately up to us where we find ourselves. We can rail against God, saying he’s evil, when he laid it out there exactly what he wanted from us.
It’s not about doing a fancy ritual with lots of sacrifice, it’s not about doing so many ‘works’ to earn our way into the gates, it’s not about following all the rules so we look perfect- all the old ways don’t get us no where. The gates will not be opened for us if we look good to other humans, it’s all about what our souls look like to God.
Are they dipped in the blood of the sacrificial King?
Do we make the conscious decision to accept that sacrifice?
That’s what we have to do, just accept the love that the sacrifice represents.
Such a simple decision that can change your life and your eternal destination.
Why don’t more of us make that decision? Why don’t we all? Because we think we know better than God.
A free gift, given to all. Accepted by few.
Make a choice. Don’t blame God for your decision, all you have to do is accept. Where you end up is up to you. Heaven or Hell? Life or Death? Accept the gift or deny the sacrifice.
What’s your choice?

Blessings of a year

Praying for a very blessed New Year!
This is the newsletter that I sent out to my family and friends. I’m not to fond of newsletters, but a lot happened this year and this is just a small update. This year has been one of growth and letting God take over my life. One thing I have learned throughout this year is exactly how good is God. So many things that could have seemed like disasters ended up becoming a blessing. God has been teaching me so much, sometimes it’s not the most comfortable lesson, but at the end if I take the time to reflect, it has always been good.

     1) My school created a new degree this last year- the one I really needed! This means I will be graduating with a Master’s of Divinity in Chaplaincy. (It doesn’t have the language requirement- no Greek!) This one looks a lot better on the resume than the Master’s of Arts, I was originally in, and thankfully it just took a year more to finish it.

2) After six years of working and living on campus, I felt the urging to move to a new apartment. My former roommate, Mandy, and I found a wonderful place that was actually former dorms to another Christian college that is just up the hill from school. With 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a brand new kitchen, it’s a wonderful first place.

3)  After six years of working on numerous papers on Disabilities and the Church, I ‘finished’ the main paper at 70 pages. It is still very rough and is in need of a great deal of polishing, but it has been an amazing paper to work on.

4) Because of this paper, my campus is putting on a workgroup for Spring 2013. I and the Dean of the Seminary will be leading this group to eventually make a class that will be offered in another year. It has been an amazing learning experience and to see how God is moving in this as been eye opening. It’s a topic that is needed, not only to be taught in school, but to be put to use in the church. Many of the professors have never been confronted by the need for a Scripture based theology regarding the disabled, so many of the pastors who graduate have not been given the tools to use within their congregations. Hopefully, this new class will give those tools. We are also blessed by having Joni and Friends be a supportive help in creating the class. We’re going to have the Oregon advocate be a guest speaker which is remarkable.

5) I am also going to be interviewed by the Alumni Magazine regarding this class. Kind of nervous about it, but I know this will be a great thing that will help get the conversation started on campus, about the need for learning how to biblically work with the disabled as well as how to be active ministers with them.

6) In September, while trying to be careful, I fell down the stairs to my new apartment. Since I never had a truly sprained ankle before, I figured it would take a bit of time to heal. Two months later, my foot was still swollen and had started to spasm. After meeting with a specialist and doing a month’s worth of physical therapy, it was discovered I had ruptured a ligament in my ankle. On December 11th, I had ankle surgery and the doctor was surprised by the amount of damage I had. Not only did I ‘rupture’ one ligament but I had also destroyed another. I am now recovering from having another person’s tendon drilled into my ankle bone in three areas. I cannot drive or put any weight whatsoever on my ankle for at least 2 months. Though it may be longer. God’s provisions are seen even in this! Surgery was right after my finals for Fall semester and after losing my custodial job due to new management. I was able to come home, where there are no stairs, and have help through the hardest part of recovery. I have been blessed by some wonderful people who have helped cover some of my bills. I have been absolutely blown away by the outpouring of love and support. I have no words to show my thankfulness for everyone. My roommate has also helped by asking our landlord if we can move our apartment downstairs. So I can stay at my apartment during the first months of the new semester without having to deal with those nasty stairs! What a blessing and answer to some worried prayers!

   7) I am graduating on May 10th! I finally have the classes and credits figured out and it is finally my time to graduate from Seminary! This school has been such a blessing and a wonderful tool in learning more about God. Graduating from the undergrad as well as attending the Seminary has made me so much more aware of the importance of knowing your faith and participating in that faith. God is SO good!

8) My mom had a very scary moment where she ended up having emergency abdominal surgery. Due to former surgeries she had a lot scar tissue that ended up wrapping around her intestine. Thankfully, she went to the hospital in time and they were able to keep her safe. If she hadn’t gone in when she had she could have died. Also, thankfully, her specialist from a different surgery was on call at the hospital the day (day after Christmas) that she had to have surgery. This was a true blessing. Despite being cut from stem to stern again, mom is doing well. God’s blessings are found even in this.

The most important thing I learned this year though is how very thankful I am for my family and friends. If you are part of my life, it means that God has brought you to me so I can learn something. And because of you- I have found out how amazing God is. So thank you for being part of my life. Have you taken time to count your blessings? I hope that you are shown exactly how much God loves you in this New Year. Remember, it’s not always comfortable, but it is always in the end for your good. Even in the midst of great sorrow and pain, may you feel God’s love and compassion wrapped around you. Know you are loved greatly.

  Praying that you have a New Year blessed with examples of God’s undying love for you.

“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift” ~2 Corinthians 9:15

The Foot Saga Continues!

I had a surgery. My foot, let’s just say that my ankle had a whole lot more damage than first thought. And it has been a huge blessing. It’s strange thinking that I have had to have surgery to realize how important the Body of Christ is to me.
OK, let’s back up here.
In September, during an attempt to be careful, I fell down the stairs. (You can read that story here: Tumbling Trust) Over a two month period of icing it and keeping it wrapped, the pain got worse. I was still walking on it and working. It hurt, but I could still deal with it. But, then suddenly the pain rocketed up and my foot started spasming so badly I couldn’t sleep. That’s when I finally went to Urgent care to get it looked at. They gave me this horrible brace that did NOT work and caused more pain. But, they also sent me to a specialist.
That was the right move! It took another month though before they realized the depth of the injury. During that month, I had a new brace and physical therapy, where I met my very interesting physical therapist– for that story you can read: Breaking the Christian Bubble.
But, my ankle was slowly getting even worse as the pain got harder to handle. Ice just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
So, after an MRI, the doctor scheduled me for surgery. He said I ruptured at least one ligament but probably two. (actually the two ligaments that the arrows are pointing at)image001 When the doctor actually opened me up on December 11th, the damage was a whole lot worse than he even thought. I didn’t rupture it, I liquefied the ligaments. His exact words, “The ligaments were the consistency of snot.” So I now have someone’s donor tendon drilled into three parts of the ankle bone. Eventually, my ankle will be much stronger than ever before. But, the process is going to be a bit long.
For two weeks- which the day after Christmas will be over- I am in a split cast. This way the stitches can come out and the post-surgery swelling can eventually go down. Then for a minimum of 4 weeks I will be in a full cast from knee to toe. Then there will be an undisclosed amount of time in a walking boot. All of this with absolutely no weight bearing. If I put weight on my foot, I can split my heel which is even more surgery.
One thing I have to insert here…I am horrible on crutches! I’ve never broken anything and have no experience with crutches. I’ve nearly fallen three times- on my foot! Luckily, I have a donated knee scooter that I can get around on.
But, I digress. Let’s get back to the main reason for this post.
I am so very blessed! Because I lost my job due to new management, I was in the midst of finding a new job when the doctor said that I basically cannot do any driving or walking for about 2 months. This freaks me out! I’m a custodian and a caregiver- for those jobs you have to walk!
I was in the midst of trying to prove that I was trusting God when God showed me how amazing his church can be. My roommate and another good friend worked behind my back to have the Student Government in the Seminary use me as their student to support. That generous gift gave me enough money to cover a month of medical bills. Then the school has an “Angel Fund” that Financial Aid gives out, they gifted me with enough to cover a month and a half of more bills. Other sweet souls from undergrad, seminary, and my church also donated money, two of whom I’ve never met! I also got a wonderful casserole that helped take care of food for my family on a very busy day.
My parents brought me back home for the first month of healing so that I can have all of the help I need, while I get use to only one foot and the pain pills I’m on.
An anonymous friend gave me a gift card for Fred Myers which is a huge blessing while others gave me gift baskets to stave off boredom. A sweet couple from my church blew me away by the amount of their gift that answered so many of my worried financial prayers.
Transportation has been offered during my school days from a few sweet people- which I will be taking them up on!
And another BIG thing- my roommate asked our landlord if we can move apartments! I’ve been trying to figure out where I can stay for the 2 months of not walking- I can’t do the stairs because I barely can do 3 steps much less the number of stairs up to my apartment! She is such a blessing! My roommate is willing to move after being in our apartment for only 5 months. Just to move downstairs. This was such an answer to prayer, I can’t tell you how much this has taken away some of my worries! The major one being that I can actually stay in the place that I’m paying rent on- without having to pay another rent as well. This frees up money that I can give those who are willing to chauffeur me to my classes and doctor appointments.
This injury has opened my eyes to so much love. As a natural caregiver, it is easy to feel forgotten and under-appreciated. When you are always helping others, it makes it hard for people to help you. It’s hard to say “I need help!” when you don’t want to be a burden to others. But, the act of accepting that help has been so heartwarming and humbling. So many people have stepped out of the woodwork to just help.
I am beyond thankful for the Body of Christ. Through the sweet souls, God has answered my prayers. Through my injury, God has shown me how important the Body is to the individual- and how important the individual is to the Body.
Thank you so much for every prayer and however you have helped me. You are special to me!

Colossians 3:15-17
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.