Thursday, November 26, 2015

Seeking Thankfulness



As I'm sitting here in the wee morning hours of Thanksgiving, I am thinking of how different this holiday is going to be.  Usually we have a houseful of people.  Normally, I would be up at this time, and instead of typing, I would be preparing a turkey and a ham, with all of the trimmings.  This year, we were blessed to be invited to Steve's nephew's home for the special day.  Recovery has been very slow going after the surgery, and there was no way I would be able to perform my usual duties.  How grateful we are for sweet nephews!
As thankful as I am, it still feels extremely strange not to be "doing" this morning.  I enjoy the craziness and excitement of the day.  If I let myself, I could shift my focus on that, and wail and lament about what I'm NOT doing this Thanksgiving, instead of what I AM doing today.
That can be a daily battle, when you think of it.
We can get so caught up in the disappointments and struggles of our daily lives that we lose sight of  the good aspects of our situations.  It's not always easy to see.  Sometimes we have to hunt and search for the positive. It might just be a tiny thread of positivity, but it is there.
I've had to do some searching, lately, myself. 
As I've been healing from the surgery, things were going nicely, and then BOOM, dizziness, low grade fever, night sweats, and nausea. My body began to let me know it didn't appreciate having the stent in it, placed there during surgery.  A stent is a piece of coated wire, that extends from the kidney through the ureter and into the bladder.  It is used to keep the "passageway" open.  This is the fourth stent I've had...with the same symptoms occurring.  This doesn't happen with everyone, but for some reason, my body just rebels against those things!  Once they take it out...the symptoms disappear.  In this case it is necessary to keep it in place for six weeks, to give my newly repaired ureter a support to heal around.  (One more week to go!)
I've had to look for the good aspects of this situation.  When I start to get bogged down in sickness and self pity, I have to search for the positive .  This is not going to last forever.  I only have __ weeks left. The stent is a good thing, and is helping me heal.  I can use this time to focus on God's Love for me, and get closer to Him. 
Do I FEEL like finding the good every day?  To be honest, no!  But I do it anyway.  Because Satan would like nothing better than for me to have a grumbling, negative spirit.  Grumbling, negative spirits don't look to God for the answer.  They just focus on the situation.  When you're only looking at your difficult circumstances, you're not looking at God.  We have to seek the Divine Aspect out...and then keep our eyes fixed on it.
Jesus told us what to do.
Matthew 7:7  "Seek and you will find"  and Matthew 6:33  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." 
When you have to seek for something, it's not readily visible.
Sometimes God is not right in front of our eyes.  Sometimes it is like a scavenger hunt...we have to do some investigating to find Him in our circumstances..  He is the Good.  He is the Positive.  He is the Helpful.  And+ once we find Him, we find the reason to be thankful in all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:18  "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."


Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Scalpel's Reflection

I am now two weeks post op.  In my previous post, To God Be the Glory, I spoke about the possible outcomes of the operation.  I've given myself a little time to 'defog' my brain, and now  here is the updated story!
I was accompanied by my husband Steve and my brother, Karl, the morning of the surgery.  I was so glad to be able to see the surgeon before they gave me any 'happy juice'.  I wanted to be able to clearheadedly ask if I may pray with him.  How blessed I was to find out that he was very open and willing to do so.  Afterward, I think I surprised him when I started reassuring him that he was going to do fine. He looked at Steve and said this was a first time a patient was making HIM feel better about what was to happen! I told him that no matter what happened, God was the ultimate One in charge.  He agreed.
Upon studying the situation before beginning, the doctor discovered that he did not need to make an open incision around my side from the ribs to the abdomen, as previously thought.  He made an approximate 11 1/2 inch vertical cut down the middle of my stomach.  He told Steve that at first glance, he was amazed at how good everything looked inside.  Apart from some organs being misplaced, due to the pressure from my massively enlarged kidney, everything was not nearly as deformed as thought.  He was able to perform the first option, of cutting out the 5-6 inch bad section of ureter and reattach the two ends.  There was no need to use any of my intestines to make a new ureter.  No need to stretch my bladder to compensate for the missing tube. A simple 'cut and paste' if you will. 
He capped off my nephrostomy tube, inserted a stent and attached a catheter for about 4 days.  My surgery was on Tuesday morning, and I was home by Saturday evening, urinating on my own, with no artificial help.
As for healing, I am slowly feeling better, day by day.  Today, I get my staples removed, and possibly my nephrostomy tube, also.  That will enhance my healing process very rapidly, I'm sure!  I've had numerous abdominal surgeries, similar to this, in the past.  But they were over 20 years ago.  I can tell there is a difference at the age of 55!! I'm definitely taking it easy, and letting myself heal properly.
As I anticipated, God was right in the middle of that six hour surgery, and He was Glorified.  His Mercy and His Goodness shone through.  His Glory was reflected in the gleam of the surgeon's scalpel.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

To God Be The Glory



The time is almost here.  In less than 36 hours I'll be in surgery.  People have asked me if I'm ready.  I have to say, "YES!"  I'm ready to get the operation over with; I'm ready to begin the healing process; I'm ready to feel myself again.

At my last visit to the surgeon, we had a talk about the possible risks.  There are quite a few, as in any surgery, but he doesn't expect any major problems.  He reassured me that he wouldn't put me through all of this if he didn't think he could help me. He said that he knew he was the one who would be able to help me.  I told him that  I knew he was the one, without a doubt.  I truly believe God brought me to him, and that he is the one that He chose to bring me healing.  The doctor then told me of three possible ways the surgery could go.  He said he hoped to do the two less extreme options for the reconstruction.  He didn't think they would work, but he didn't know until he opened me up.  If they didn't, then he would have to use part of my small intestine to repair the obstruction.

Last week I was watching a program, and the teacher was talking about the scene in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus was on His way to see His friend Lazarus, who was dying.
Jesus was told that Lazarus' sisters, Martha and Mary, had asked for Him to come because their brother was so sick.  The disciples were surprised because Jesus had decided to stay around for a couple of more days, instead of going to them.  They didn't understand because Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters.  They were very good friends.  Why wasn't He going right away?  The only thing He said to them was that Lazarus' sickness wasn't going to be his death...but that the Son of God would be glorified.  What did that mean?
By the time they arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days.  Martha and Mary were devastated.  They were inconsolable.  Jesus was so moved, He wept.  But then He did a strange thing.  He went to the tomb where Lazarus was and told them to move the stone. They couldn't have heard Him right.  The smell would be horrific!  But they did as He asked. And then Jesus did something even stranger.
He spoke to the open tomb.
"LAZARUS!  COME FORTH!'
And you know what?
He did.
Lazarus came walking out of the tomb, still wrapped in the burial clothes.
The people were overwhelmed.  How could this be?  Jesus raised him from the dead!  Surely this was no mere man.  He had mentioned the words 'Son of God'.  Could it be?  Many people believed in Jesus, after that.

The disciples didn't understand why Jesus waited.  They thought He loved them.  That isn't love to see them suffer like that!  Isn't that how we are sometimes?  We don't understand why God does what He does.  Why do I have to wait?  I want it now!  We wonder and tell Him, "If you really loved me, You would ___"  We don't realize that in the waiting, we learn patience.  We learn to trust Him when we have nowhere else to turn.  We weep and cry, and reluctantly we roll away the stone.  Even though we're sure there's disaster behind it...we roll it anyway.  And there we find the Glory of God.  Why?  So that the Son of God will be glorified.

In the past two years or so, I have asked, "Why" and "When" countless times.  All paths have led to this destination.  This surgeon.  What is the outcome?  Only My Heavenly Father knows; but I do know this.  He will be Glorified.  He already has, actually.  For I know without a doubt that He loves me and that this is part of His Plan for my life.  There will be pain involved, but ultimately it will lead to my healing.  God may show Himself with surgery option one or two...or even its the third, more difficult one.  Either way, He is saving my life.  

To God be the Glory.


John 11:4   "And Jesus said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified in it."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lessons from His Calendar

I should have known better.  Didn't my mom try to teach me not to ask why...just do as I'm told?  I guess sometimes it takes awhile to learn some lessons.  That lesson, and the one about God not needing my help in planning my life.
When I met Dr. Wiegand in July, one of the first things I told him was that I wanted to have my kidney surgery right away, because I had a new grandbaby due in October, and I wanted to be well enough to go up and be there for the birth.  He understood, and took that into consideration.
Because of the intense pain I'd been having, he ordered a nephrostomy tube to be placed through my back, into my kidney.  It was held in place by a single stitch.  This was to let my kidney rest, until the surgery could take place.   Despite the use of "happy juice", when they put the tube in, I'm not going to lie...it hurt.  A lot.  The pain afterward was pretty bad for about 10 days.  Then the tummy pain subsided, but I had another nagging pain.  I had to be very careful how I moved, because if the tube moved a certain way it felt like I was getting stabbed.  As a result, I've been pretty much homebound ever since.
At every doctor visit, I would remind him of the upcoming birth...and he would order another test.
"Really?" I would think after every postponement of the surgery.  The time was clicking away!  I had to get this done and over with!!   I knew the doctor knew what he was doing, but the birth date was getting closer and closer!
He ordered another test for the 9th of Sept. I thought that there was still a chance to travel, if he did the surgery right afterward.  I would be recuperating, but I'd tough it out.  I saw him after the procedure, and he gave me the news that I needed one more final test.  I just lost it.  I cried, knowing that going up for the birth was out of the question.  The doctor patted my hand and said, "Don't you want to be around for your grandchildren, without having to do dialysis?"  I knew he was right, but still was heartbroken.
Two days later Shannon told me that she had to have a C Section and that the baby was going to be born early. We found out later that it was scheduled for the 2nd of October.  My test was for the 30th of Sept.  Maybe this was the answer!  All this time, we thought the surgery was supposed to be first, but it was the birth!   Only one little issue...sitting for that long, with that painful tube.  But I thought, "I don't care, I'll ignore it!  I'm GOING!"
The thirtieth comes around and they're prepping me for the test.  They casually say, "Oh, your tube has been in since July?  They'll go ahead and replace it while they're doing the test."  I was dumbfounded.  The only thing I could think of was all of that pain that I'd had when they inserted it.  ANOTHER one?  NO!!!!  I had to ride for hours in a car the next day!!!  I tried to reason with them, but they insisted that it had to be replaced because of potential infection. 
I was so upset, thinking of all of the "what ifs".  Then I caught myself and tried to calm down and quietly had a "conversation" with God.
"Really?  I know You know better, but a new tube?  This is not good!!  I'm giving the situation to You, but I don't  want to.  I know You know what I have to do tomorrow, so I'm going to trust You!"
But I was still upset.
They asked me if I wanted sedation, and I told them no.  I had to see the surgeon afterward, and I didn't want to hang around longer than I  had to.  Did you know that I was stubborn?
The doctor began to remove the tube and I felt him clip that stitch.  Something felt funny.  They then replaced the tube.  IT DIDN'T HURT AT ALL!!!!!  The doctor said that he was going to do a different kind of thing and not put another stitch in.  I then had to roll over on my back for the test.  I was amazed...no pain.  After the test I was moving all around...no pain!  I then knew why I had to have the tube replaced.  So that I could travel comfortably! I could sit and stand without that stitch stabbing me!
I can just picture God shaking His Head at me when I was having that "conversation" with Him.  He was probably wanting to say, "Yada, yada, yada...Will you just be quiet and let Me do this?!!!"
As we were driving up to Pensacola, I got a phone call from the hospital.  My surgery date was scheduled.  All of that needless worry and concern...for nothing.  God had it on His Calendar the whole time.  He knew, when I didn't know, that all would be ok.
And this?  
THIS for all of the delays.  So that I could be there for the birth of this beautiful little miracle. God is my loving Father that wants to bless me with things that I desire.
So am I nervous about the surgery?  No, I can honestly say I'm not.  I am concerned, of course, but not worried.  God has this, just like He always does.  He is forever faithful.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (ESV) He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.                

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Devotion



I'm sitting here in my recliner with a fuzzy four legged furball nestled next to my legs. That is HIS spot. As soon as I sit in the chair, he is right at my feet, looking up expectantly at me. I can read his mind and comply by raising the foot rest, so he can assume his position at my feet. Marley is so devoted. His little fur sister is the exact same way with Steve. Always at his feet, or on his lap.

I was holding Marley earlier, like a baby (don't judge) and I looked down at his little face. He had such a loving expression. I told Steve, that if we think about it, we are those dogs' world. They wake up so happy to see us, and to greet us. They depend on us to take care of them without hesitation. They communicate if they think we need to fulfill a need of theirs and do whatever they can to make us happy. They act as if we have been gone forever if we leave them for 10 minutes, and they stay by our side until they fall asleep at night. The next day is a repeat of yesterday, and they don't mind a bit.

We can learn a lot from those sweet puppies. They are the picture of true devotion. How devoted am I in my relationship with Christ? Do I wake up, eager to spend time with Him and sit at His Feet? Or do I put my agenda for the day ahead of Him? Do I depend on His Provision for my daily needs, or do I worry and fret about tomorrow? Do I talk to Him about my concerns and do my best to make Him happy with my daily choices? And do I stay as close to Him as I can during my day, until I fall asleep at night?


God is waiting. Waiting to hold us like a little child and to look deeply into our eyes, and marvel at the love we have for Him. God wants to be our whole world. Have you shown Him devotion today?


Deuteronomy 6:5
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Unexpected Comings and Goings


   

Even though I think of myself as a pretty flexible person, I tend to plan my life around a calendar. This or that is happening this week; later on this month I have to do this thing; in a few months I can look forward to this event happening; my husband will be retiring in a few years… You get the picture. Like I said, I'm pretty flexible. If plans get changed, I don't tend to get bent out of shape. But in the course of three weeks, I learned just how little control I have over the course of circumstances in my life.

On April 19th, we received the news that my brother John, who lived in SC, passed away suddenly due to a sudden and tragic accident. He had no idea that when he woke up that morning, that this was going to be his last day on earth. Thankfully, he was prepared. He had given his life over to Jesus and he knew where he was going when that time came. But for those of us who loved him, we wrestled with “What if….” You can never know for certain how long a loved one will be with you.

Almost three weeks later, we were again faced with an unprepared 'exit' of sorts. My son and daughter in love were getting ready for the birth of their second child, a son. According to the doctors, he was due to arrive right before his sister's first birthday in June. On May 1st, Sherry's water broke, and by 10:30 that evening, they knew it was time for him to be born. Coming in at 4 lbs 14 oz, Aiden was a perfect, tiny little baby boy. When his parents woke up that morning, they had no idea they would be looking at the face of their son that night. Thankfully, they were prepared. They had all of the essential items they would need for his arrival, when that time came. That being said, we couldn't help but wonder, “What if....” You can never know for certain when a baby will arrive.

Timing. God's Perfect Timing. Although we don't know when events will occur, God does.

Thousands of years ago, God's people waited for their Messiah. They didn't know when he would come, but they waited and hoped…and prayed. Many, many years later, a tiny baby boy was born in the middle of a small and unassuming town. No one anticipated that the birth of this child Jesus, would make a difference in anyone's life. But God knew.

Thirty three years later, that now grown Jesus was walking up a hill, dragging a beam. He was then crucified and died on a cross. No one anticipated that the death of this man would make a difference in anyone's life. But God knew.

Three days later, three women went to a tomb to prepare his body for burial. They didn't anticipate that He would no longer be there, and was in fact, alive. They didn't know that this one event would forever change history and the course of countless people's lives. But God knew.

God was not surprised when that baby was born in a Bethlehem stall. It was His time.

God was not surprised when Jesus was crucified, died and arose from the dead. It was His time.

God was not surprised when my brother died that night. It was his time.

God was not surprised when little Aiden was born a month before he was anticipated. It was his time.

Although we may never understand the 'why' of certain events, we can find comfort in the fact that God does have it all under control, and He is waiting to comfort us in our grief. He is waiting to calm us when unforeseen circumstances occur. And He is waiting to celebrate with us when we receive unexpected gifts. God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.

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