Wednesday, January 17, 2007

real life

i needed to make a special post for one particular reason. frustration. yesterday, i had one of the most miserable work days of my entire social-security earning life. it was one of those days that makes you want to spit. or cuss. or maybe both. . . simultaneously on the person who's being a grade-a, certified REAR END.

work wasn't that great. (did i already get that point across?) so "not great", in fact that i had to pray a lot. and keep my mouth shut so that i didn't say anything i would regret. and the only thing i regretted was being one of those socially responsible people who holds their tongue instead of one of those people who just says their mind, spouts off, gets enraged and then apologizes for it later. (okay, i know it's not wise, but it would feel so good to do it every once in a while.)

so i can't even tell you what evils transpired at work, but i just wanted to face the reality that sometimes i think some pretty nasty things. even though i don't say them (i mean, most of the time i don't say them. . .), they still fester and stew and become ugly thoughts. which make me aware of my ugliness. and my great need for patience. peace. perserverance. JESUS.

all this blankety blank mess will pass. i just wanted to struggle with the reality of the situation. and my deep need to change. and the fact that this is real life. feathers get ruffled. problems happen. anger is a real emotion -- even a valid one under certain circumstances. and it's just plain therapeutic to get it off my chest. now all i need is a hug. . .

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

an update

Last year, on December 24, 2005 (that is Christmas Eve) my family had to call an ambulance to come and pick me up. We were all celebrating Christmas in Kansas where my oldest brother & his family live. On the way to the hospital that night, I "blacked out" because of the extreme pain I was in. And the struggle for my life became a very real one. Doctors and nurses worked hard to try and find out what was the matter with me. After a week in ICU where doctors ran test after test -- CAT and CT scans, a spinal tap, blood work -- you name it, they searched it out, I was transferred to a larger hospital via medical airplane transport. My condition was not stabilizing and the doctors continued to give my family a 0% chance for my survival. Yes, that is right. No chance to live, medically speaking. What we later found out was that I had pancreatitis. The infection was extremely severe and because it had gone undetected and untreated, my entire body was septic (or I had "sepsis" -- think septic system. my blood, my insides were like a sewer and I was literally being poisoned from the inside.) Pardon me while I make a "light" comment in an extremely serious story -- supposedly, I have an incredibly high pain tolerance. Who would have guessed it?! There are many details to this story. Many tears that my family cried. Hours and hours where I acted "out of my mind" and pulled out the tubes that were helping me breath, feeding me, keeping me going -- until I had to be tied down with restraints. Lots of hard times. And 3 weeks of my life that I have no memory of. The few moments I woke up out of this "fog" are like nightmares. Except they were real. 26 days in the hospital if I counted correctly. 15 days of "recovery" in California where I literally re-learned how to wash my own hair and dress myself again (not that I had forgotten, but that 3 1/2 weeks laying down leaves your muscles to atrophy and it takes a lot more than those 3 1/2 weeks to gain back your muscle mass.) And then weeks and weeks of gaining back strength and ability to work a full day.
I write all of this for a few reasons: #1 I'm quite overdue in telling the story. #2 I didn't die. #3 I see life differently now and just wanted to take the chance to say it. It has made THIS Christmas and THIS New Year's very special for me. Just because I can REMEMBER them. And that is a sweet blessing.

I'm copying the testimony that I read at my Mom (& sister's) church while visiting last week - exactly one year to date from being admitted into the hospital. Please read, if you have a moment. If not, you just need to know one thing: GOD IS MIGHTY TO SAVE.
12-24-06 Conejo Valley Church -- Thousand Oaks, CA
Thank you for letting me take a few minutes of your time this morning. I don’t often get to be here as I now live in Texas (and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve stood before this congregation!), but I asked Andy (note: he's the pastoral minister at the church) if I could share just a bit with y’all. My original plan was to share with you the very memorable Christmas and holiday season I had last year. And then a thought occurred to me. I have no memory of Christmas last year. I was unconscious and struggling for life. And THAT is why I stand before you this morning. Today, I am VERY conscious and blessed with health and I need to testify to the goodness of God in all of these matters.

There are, in fact, about three weeks of time that I cannot recollect. This time started very late in the evening on Christmas Eve and extended into the middle of January. The vague memories I have of my time in the hospital are foggy at best. The things I can remember from the whole experience and the time spent in ICU, I’d rather forget. I’ve considered many times this lack of memory is probably another blessing from the Lord. What I cannot remember, my family could share with you in great detail. They lived through the experience with no hope given them from the medical staff. Their only hope was that the Lord would save me. And that He did.

Over a year’s time I still have not mastered words that can declare my thankfulness to the Lord. During this season when we focus so much on GIVING, my mind keeps coming back to SAVING. 22 years ago, I decided to follow Jesus and put my faith in Him. Later, I was baptized right outside this window. I can look back at those moments as my “salvation”. And then there are moments -- life experiences -- where I see the mercy of the Lord. I owe Him my very life because He saved it from death. This is spiritual. This is physical. His salvation is COMPLETE. There is a scripture from the Old Testament that I have shared with folks throughout the years, especially when wanting to get the message of the gospel to someone in short form. Even people who have not put their faith in Jesus will listen for a moment as I share this brief scripture from Psalm 103:

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within bless His holy name. Praise the Lord, oh my soul and forget not all his benefits (or forget not all his goodness in some translations.) Who forgives all of my sins and who heals all my diseases. Who redeems my life from the pit. . . and crowns me with love. . .and crowns me with grace. . . and I’m satisfied. “

What else can I say? Bless the Lord, oh my soul. And all of you, his people – praise His holy name! At this special time of year, remember what the Lord has done. The Lord has been mighty to save as only He has the power to do.
Thank you.
There is so much more to say, but I must end there tonight. I owe my life to Jesus in every way that is possible. And my words fail to articulate the way he has touched me. Out in the wilderness of West Texas on New Year's Day, there was only one thing that I needed to shout as loud as I could: "Hallelujah!" That's it. Praise the Lord. Everything else may be "falling apart", but the Lord has been faithful to me. And healed me. And "saved" me. And given me another day to live. And that is good. And HE is good.