Saturday, December 31, 2011

And the gifts keep coming...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7

Every year around this time I like to read through journals that I've had over the last year. I'm not one to write a journal everyday, nor am I one to write a lot. In the spring, my friend Aunt Jackie recommended that I read the book "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are." It's a celebration of grace and a recognition of the power of gratitude. The author, Ann Voskamp, has a way of weaving faith and gratitude into a beautiful poetry of words. So, I started a gratitude journal. I can honestly say that this book as well as the process of daily writing down ways God has blessed me has truly been a life changer.

So here is 2011 in a short recap and a few highlights from the gratitude journal:

1. A visit to see my niece, sister and brother-in-law and a half marathon for my World Vision sponsor child Santiaguito

2. Acquire the Fire Youth Rally with the 6th through 11th graders from Hope, stories of lives changed

3. A visit to the DR to see the kiddos I taught (all in high school now), stay with the Abreu family, visit my friend Shelley's school, and a trip to the beach.

4. Girls night with my 5th grade girls to the Macy's flower show
5. Easter--my favorite holiday. I got to help lead worship which made it even more meaningful this year.

May: Spring!
6. Planting my garden
7. Basketball at recess with my 5th grade boys
8. Eager 5th grade prayer warriors
9. Track and Field Day (one of my all time favorite days of the year)
10. Spring retreat for church which included a huge thunderstorm and tornado warnings which meant hanging out in the bathroom awhile..
11. Amen and Praise God from my 5th graders when prayers are answered at school
12. Friday morning Bible Studies with the Hope ladies

13. Mom and Dad coming to school, acting in Bible skits and Dad teaching a Bible lesson
14. A new classroom with more windows!
15. End of year class party
16. A trip to Atlanta to be part of Proskuneo Worship Institute with Aunt Jackie, Heidi, Josh, Becky, Karen, and many others--A worship time filled with the Spirit
17. Time and space to write music and worship through others' gifts
18. Multilingual concerts and people excited to sing in their own language
19. Summer school--Teaching a book kids love, and teaching about the countries of the world
20. Great Minnesota Sendoff for several friends
21. Summertime in Minneapolis which included sand volleyball, bike rides, long runs, and swims at the lakes

22. Boundary Waters trip with 5 other ladies
23. Bittersweet goodbye to my roomie of 4 years Lindsey
24. Visiting high school and college friends
25. New church, new friends, new fellowship

26. Lake Okoboji with the family
27. Rachel and Tessa visiting Minneapolis
28. A new roommate Megan
29. School year beginnings
30. My kiddos--15 little gentlemen, and 5 young ladies

31. Nikki Lerner and Josh Davis visit Minneapolis
32. Saturday morning long runs with Kari
33. 'Your Great Name' by Natalie Grant

34. Twin Cities Marathon--I finished my second marathon!
35. Encouragers and cheerleaders in the marathon, and in life.
36. Birthday celebrations
37. Meeting Mykah De Jong
38. Home visits for my kids

39. New York City Marathon with Kari Holmes
4o. Adventures in New York City
41. Evening of Hope Banquet--Stories of lives changed
42. Gift of life, gift of health each day
43. Christmas at Thanksgiving with the Wielenga and Van Hofwegen family
44. Tessa

45. Theological discussions in 5th grade
46. Ugly sweater parties
47. Christmas traditions
48. Ethan Daniel Wright
49. Christmas celebrations with family
50. Glorious, amazing Christmas night sunset

I've only skimmed the surface of my journal. Most of these listed above are events or people, but there are also many little things as well as truths that the Lord has taught me or reminded me this year.

51. Fill your life, fill your cup with the Lord. Let your satisfaction come from Him.
52. Be vulnerable with the gifts that God has given you.
53. Psalm 107: Let the steadfast love of the Lord be your strength.
54. Psalm 143: Remember the Lord and take heart.
55. "God doesn't do nothing. God is always doing something. He is doing thousands of things behind the scenes.." John Piper
56. Let us run this race with perseverance, fixing our eyes on JESUS!
57. Jesus has authority over everything. There is nothing He cannot do.
58. The Lord reproves and corrects those He loves.
59. The enemy has to flee at the sound of Jesus' name.
60. The Lord's love for me and His plans for my life are far greater than I could ever plan or imagine.

And the list goes on. I am nearing 600. I don't think the number matters, but the act of remembering what the LORD has done and his mercies each day does. This sums it up:

"This moment of my life has a root deep into time--I, my culture, and experiences shape this day and time and the beauty of all of it together is Christ. Let heaven intrude into my earthly affairs to rip my attention from the world to Christ over and over again."

So many names are in my journal, so many people that the Lord has blessed my life with. I am grateful.

And the gifts keep coming...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Did anyone catch the plates on that truck?

It's a spectacular day in the Twin Cities and I'm sitting here in the car with the windows down, awaiting word as to whether a transfusion is in order. Not quite sure which way to cheer for that. If I'm in the 7's it's a green light, 8's and they assess the impact of the anemia on my life and safety and if I'm in the 9's it's all my battle. I was 9.5 prior to this weekend's mass exodus of blood cells. Now, if I could order up my donor, I'd certainly be hoping for a 7. Yes, I'll take a healthy dose of Lance, a nice shot of Goucher, a hint of Phelps (can't swim in a straight line to save my life so swimming off course really fast doesn't help me much) a nice smack of Jobs, and several grams of any of a number of exceptional women I know and admire. Tac-Boy would most certainly order up some Angelina Jolie with a side of Megan Fox, and I think my friends would universally agree to anyone who would curtail the stubborn jackass in me. My prolific apologies friends, but you should know by now that I am hard wired to dissociate pain and I'm doing my best to sensibly read my body.

In the past month I have been scanned, xrayed, ultra sounded, and probed, I've been biopsyed, analyzed, respirated, and know the complete contents of my blood on various levels. I've been, poked, prodded, examined and cultured. There is no part of me that remains unexplored by my medical team. And yet I feel as far removed from knowing my own body as I ever have. My lungs don't breathe right, my heart rate doesn't behave, I have shooting, fiery flairs coursing up through my neck and if I don't jump on my 30 minute window between the onset of increasing cardiac pressure and "wow would someone please remove the iron poker from my chest" with a vicadin I'm reduced to clenching my chest in a corner, tears streaming down my face. Yea, it hurts that bad. For you moms out there, it's the labor pains that incapacitated you, just prior to your transition labor. But this pain is freakin in my chest, next to my heart, and it produces nothing but pain. No awesomely cute bundle of joy at the end of this ride.

In the past 2 hours I've had three people tell me their mom died at about my age from pulmonary embolism that lead to a brain aneurysm. Maybe God is trying to tell me something. In the wise words of my neighbor "I guess stuff like that happens to show you how precious life really is.". So, the labor doesn't produce a tangible bundle of joy, but joy none the less, and this joy has the added benefit of a full nights sleep.

But I don't know my body. And that is a weird sensation indeed. As an athlete and a trainer I'm accustomed to knowing every muscle bundle, how it contracts, how it reacts, what pain can be pushed through and what pain requires easing back. I know nutrition, heart rates, VO2 max and the impact of various foods and alcoholic beverages on athletic performance. But it's all turned on it's head at the moment. For me to have the thinnest, healthiest blood I need to sit on the couch swilling beer, tequila's better. Being active and eating green things (god forbid "do not touch broccoli!") drops my INR and gets me back to clotting range. Fortunately there is a solution; more frequent blood draws and pop more coumadin. I know at some point the solution will be to enjoy a long run then cool down with a icy cold beer, weekend warrior nirvana, but for now that dream is overshadowed by "my mom died" and "you're lucky to be alive" and relief on my work friends and clients faces and my 10 year old son who is covered in hives from the stress of it all.
A shot of Patron and a couch look terribly inviting from here.

However shortsighted that might seem. In general we don't have many brushes with death and since I believe our days are rightly numbered and known by God from before we are born, it just wasn't my time. I guess in many ways I'm merely trying to get the license plate of the truck that just roared past before trying to comprehend any deep, philosophical lessons from all of this. Well, that and factoring the right proportion of broccoli to beer.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Things I've learned the last several days in the ER

Things I've learned in the Emergency Room the last couple of days

1) if you call the nurse helpline with chest pain, shortness of breath or excess bleeding you are an auto send to the ER. And if you hit the jackpot and have all 3, they don't even want you to finish your most delicious hamburger at the weekend bar b que with friends.

2) when you arrive, you will want to be succinct. Turns out things are so automated it can take them a half an hour to realize your name begins with a K and you indeed are not 143 years old.

3) no matter how much you are bleeding, they will still want to draw a fistful of vials of blood and that is just plain visually disconcerting.

4). If you have a splitting headache that a vicadin and 2 Tylenol don't touch, they order a picture of your brain. On the bright side, in spite of my best efforts the ole hamster is still turning on its wheel. Although last night it felt like it was sitting on a couch with a pack of smokes and a fifth of Cuervo.

5) what happens in the ER stays in the ER or you've got not shot of reclaiming your dignity that's laying on the floor in a pool of your own bodily fluids.

6) pain is a depressant. Bring your two dear friends along. If they are slightly visually impaired, throw them your iPhone and teach them to play Angry Birds. It's good for laughs. And ladies, I warned you it's addicting.

7) when you've had enough and they've poked and prodded you to their hearts content, answer "zero" when then inquire about your location on the pain scale. They don't let you go until you are a zero.

8) there is no more glorious thing then signing your discharge papers, even if they are accompanied by a prescription of dubious merit for curbing your symptoms.

9) well perhaps even more glorious is the awakening to the sound of birds chirping outside your own bedroom window and Chopper informing you it's time to head up north with The Tribe for the day.

So, my medical journey continues. Good news of the day, my INR readings are holding in the mid 2's so my blood is sufficiently "thin" to preempt future blood clots, so no more shots in my abdominal fat and I get to space my INR blood draws a little so no more daily chats with the phlebotomist. Assuming I can stay out of the ER for a few days....

"And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left."