Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bring Me To My Knees

His fingers disappeared inside my kneecap and I screamed. "Its broken, baby. We have to go to the hospital."
Tears streamed from my eyes and screams tore from my throat as he gathered me in his arms. Every movement jostled the leg. Every step he took shot an electric jolt of agony through my body. "No...I'm fine. Take me in the house and I'll put some ice on it. I don't want to go to the hospital."
Even as I spoke the words I knew 'ice' wasn't going to do it. A canyon had opened up in the center of my knee cap.
"What happened?" he asked, laying me across the front seat of the truck. "You and Kaison were hauling scrap wood out of the back yard and the next thing I know, our three-year-old is running in the house to tell me Mommy needs help."
The truck bounced a little as we rounded a corner and I hissed through my teeth. "I caught my foot on a piece of plywood and tripped."
"Your knee shouldn't shatter just from landing on plywood."
"There was a cement stake in the pile. I landed on that."
My son, Kaison, rubbed my hand, his little brow furrowed. "Mommy needs help, right?"
"Mommy needs surgery, son," my husband muttered.
I was no stranger to surgery. I'd been on kidney dialysis for almost a year. I had a chest tube inserted and removed. A fistula built. A fistula is a place where surgeons connect an artery and a vein together so the opposition of the blood flow expands the vein and makes it large enough to fit very large needles for the dialysis machine in my arm. Between my kidney problems, my diabetes, my blindness, the premature births and deliveries of my children and a random toe which stopped growing when I was 14. surgery was part of my three-year-old's vocabulary.
However, like most things in life, the surgery itself was easy. They put me to sleep and took away my pain. The recovery on the other hand...Well lets just say 'recovery' is far too mild of a word for the process of putting broken things back together. I ended up in a soft cast from my hip to my ankle. I had to use a walker to get around because...Try to imagine a blind person on crutches. words like 'disaster' and 'catastrophe' should come to mind. I reacted poorly to the medication I was on and ended up nearly comatose from low blood sugar. The pain killers made me sick so I couldn't take them. If it hadn't been for my sister-in-law taking care of me and my kids we all would've been eating peanut butter off of the floor to survive. I still can't run, or climb down stairs. My knee won't hold my weight. The dialysis made it so instead of healing, the knee cap crumbled and I had to have it removed a year later. The scars are significant, the limp permanent and the aftermath eternal. All from falling to my knees.
This experience always reminds me; its better to kneel than be forced to your knees. Life never drives us to our knees as much as provides the opportunity to find ourselves there. I didn't do anything wrong or need a shattered knee cap to be a good person. I did need the opportunity to rely on my Savior, His healing and His hand in my life. I will never complain or curse the time I spent on my knees with Him or with the angelic humans he sent to lift me back up. Yes, it was painful, inconvenient, brutal in its healing and ugly in the recovery. It was also a time where I realized how lucky I am to have two legs, two hands, dear friends, beautiful kids, and my best friend as my husband. A knee cap isn't much of a price to pay when compared with all I gained.
I often tell my kids to make good decisions because its easier to offer gratitude than to ask for forgiveness. I also believe with all my heart that it doesn't matter what drives you to your knees, if you find your self at The Savior's feet.
If your on your knees, broken,blistered, or  bloody you are never closer to the hands that will heal you. You'll have scars, aftermath, and pain to go through, but in the end you'll walk again, taller, stronger and wiser. More importantly, next time you find yourself brought to your knees, it will be to kneel before Him and wash His feet with your tears.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scrapbooking For God

There are a thousand cliches to motivate us to keep going. "There's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow'
"The journey was worth the long walk."
"If not you then who? If not now then When?"
Okay that one's got more to do with 'Why me?',  than 'Why keep going'...but I digress.
I found myself asking this question when I sat down to write today.  Why am I doing this again? More importantly Who am I doing it for.
When I started it was because i was promised that if I wrote down a record of my life, it would be valuable for future generations. Makes my life sound pretty important. Well, its actually not, except to maybe me, and my family. Even then my boys would argue.
So, why do I pray, think, dig up my past , my stupidity and my mistakes? Why tell you what I think and feel, or what I've learned?
The answer is...because I believe someone, somewhere, at some time will read how The Savior healed me, lifted me higher and made me more than my stupidity and mistakes. If he can do it for me, non-important, unremarkable, and unknown. Then He can do it for anyone. He will do it for anyone.
He doesn't require you to have prestige, but He can help if you do. He doesn't care if you're beautiful, but He heals even those who look perfect. He doesn't require you to have a million facebook friends or followers, but He can comfort and support you when you're alone in that crowd.
We all want to be heard. Whether through our voices, our talents, our facebook page or our songs. You do what you do, because only you can. Someone else can do it, but no one will ever do anything like you. When you start to wonder if it makes a difference to anyone, look up, not around. Imagine your Father-In-Heaven sitting beside you, his arm around your shoulders and his voice in your heart. "You're doing this, because you'll come home someday, and I want to hear all about the fun you've had."
So when you're feeling as if nothing you do or say matters. make a souvenir of memory with a picture, a song, a prayer, or a word. Think of the scrap book you'll bring home to God.
If I didn't have anything to offer you today. Forgive me and add it to your scrapbook. If you rolled your eyes but didn't read to the bottom of the page, maybe someone else did. Maybe not, but it doesn't matter. This page in my scrapbook will find its way to God's record of my life. Just like the loving Father He is, He'll oooh and ahhh over my crayon scrawl, the same as he will for Picasso's masterpiece. Today...It's enough!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wounds and Scars

My fingers trailed along the blunted edge of the first staple before they tiptoed down the entire length of the incision. Twenty one. Twenty one staples holding together a myriad of other internal and external stitches stretching from below my ribcage to and inch below my belly button. I let my hand drift to the protruding lump adjacent to the wound, feeling my pulse surge throughout my 'borrowed organ.
The staples were coming out in a few weeks, but for now they were a tactile reminder of the gift I'd received; a new pancreas. After 34 years of Diabetes, I had a working pancreas.
I often found myself unconsciously fingering the staples and then the scars. Even now, 8 months later, I obsess over the healed wound that splits my stomach from tip to stern. I have quite a few scars on my stomach. One from a C-section 10 years ago. Another from the kidney my brother gave me in 2009 as well as the big one that has been opened and closed three times since 2012 when my first pancreatic transplant failed and I had it removed.
For a diabetic to live with a new pancreas is truly life changing. I went from: needles in my arms, poking my fingers 4-6 times a day, Being consistently dehydrated, sick to my stomach, in pain, and in danger of losing consciousness.  To only having my blood drawn every week and seeing doctors every month or so. Its mind blowing to know your body is no longer disintegrating around you while you fight to do things like, cook and clean and care for the kids.
If you've never lost your freedom, your stomach contents, or your sanity from a temporary or long term illness, you may not understand. If you have...you know what a blessing it is to have your body working with you.
Although I enjoy marvelous benefits from these surgeries...I still obsess at times over "the wound"
Its ugly. More than that it marks me in unforgettable ways. My husband says he loves my scars. They remind him of how far we've come and how hard we fight for our life together. I struggle to see them like he does. When I don't feel well because my complex digestive tract hates the medication. When my stomach hurts from all the viruses, fungi and bacteria it must fight off. When I worry about my stomach never being flat again. The scars bother me.
Spending too much time focused on the "wound" instead of the "cure" only steals the miraculous part from the scar. Every one of us has been wounded by life, by friends, family, heartbreak and disease. Time, distance, healing and forgiveness leave their scars and remind us of the miraculous healing power The Savior offers. It is only when we take our focus off of his love and grace that we focus on the wounds. It is only when we focus on the scars and how we got them that the miraculous nature of Christ's healing seems to be distant and powerless.
If your wounded and still healing, or if you haven't begun to heal from your wounds yet. Stop focusing on the reason you are hurting, keep your eyes on the One Who Heals. His power is sufficient and time with Him will close the wound. All you need to be whole again is to look to Jesus Christ and be healed. First, you'll have to take your focus off the wound.
I, too, have begged my Savior for my struggles to end. I've wondered how long and how much my body and mind would go through before I'd find relief. It is much easier to let pain, both physical and mental be the focus of your life so you can survive it. Survival doesn't bring healing though. It simply keeps your heart beating until the healing comes. If you mentally tear open your wounds to remind yourself they're still there you can not heal. Your faults, mistakes, sins and weaknesses are worse. Constantly picking at the scars of your all too human life opens old wounds and makes them new. Forget your pain, your self, and your past. Don't ever forget how you got here, but stop wasting energy on the scar. Soak in the healing power of Christ's love. Perhaps the pain will remind you, like the scar reminds me. The part of you that works, thrives and loves will take over and the scars will fade if you allow them to heal. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Liver, Thriver, Survivor

A few years ago, I read a book called The Survivor's Club. It was a compilation of stories about regular people who survived amazing things. A few of these stories struck me as truly miraculous. Some of them seemed to me like they were just regular things that happen to everyone, or anyone, in life.
There was a woman who tripped while going to a meeting with her knitting club and impaled herself on her own knitting needles. The needle she fell on was centimeters from her heart before they managed to remove it safely. The amazing part was...
Because of the necessity of removing the needle, her doctors found a cancerous tumor in her breast. The tumor was removed and the cancer beaten.
Another guy was skydiving alone, when his parachute failed to deploy. He fell over a thousand feet into the ocean. He survived the fall, breaking 80 percent of the bones in his body, but was "lucky" enough to have fallen in the midst of fishing boats who picked him up and took him to the hospital.
Many of the stories I read were about people who had something out of the ordinary happen. Even more than the circumstance though, was the divine interference on their behalf. A man who went down in a twin engine plane on the side of a mountain, was found by a local rancher who just happened to be checking fences in the area. A woman lost in Brooklyn, New York during a riot was found by a German shepherd who turned out to be a drug sniffing dog. This animal took her to the police station and away from danger. There's a lot more to this lady's story and the danger she found herself in, but the point is...
None of us are ever alone.
During those times when terrible, tragic things are happening and it seems all is hopeless. There is a loving hand to hold. Even through the darkest of times and the coldest of nights, One may feel alone, but you never are. In my world, I live with everything right in front of me. If I can't hear it, reach out and touch it, feel it, smell it, or taste it. It isn't there until I can. Truthfully...its a very narrow point of view.
Everything...Yes, everything. is somewhere close by, but maybe beyond your point of view.
Taking a few steps into the darkness is more than a walk of faith out into a black world. A few steps into love, hope, unanswered questions, a belief in something better and a "blind" trust that what ever you can't see, the loving God who created you can. You don't have to walk perfectly, or even well. Stumble, trip, feel your way around and shuffle forward. It doesn't matter what you're footsteps look like. His are enough to make up the difference.
Being a survivor isn't about strength, will, or luck as some of the stories I read implied. Its about knowing the 'sighted guide' on your path knows everything you don't. And if you are on God's side...who can be against you?