Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas 2008

My Christmas letter is posted (better late than never.)

http://mistychristmasletter.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Trying

Lately things have been rough. I don’t know how to explain how I got here. I know moving took a lot out of me even though it was a great thing to do. Work has been going well but has been very busy. I left a lot of space in my life to give me time to move and haven’t really filled that with anything else yet. Sometimes it feels like there isn’t much meaning to life. I spent some time remembering my Mom and missing her. None of these things should bring me down on their own but perhaps the combination of them… I can’t really explain.

I made some bad choices to deal with the pain. Somehow I decided that if I made that choice I was making the choice to turn away from church and God. I had used up my chances. I knew that wasn’t biblical. I knew I was wrong but somehow I was unable to get past that.

On Friday there was a bit of a storm during the day and the drive home took a lot longer than normal. I was on the bus so I had a lot of extra time to think. I had realized that I didn’t feel like I could go back to God, but I needed God, but I didn’t feel like I could go back to God… It went back and forth like that all the way home. I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I lived as if I didn’t know God. I had lived that way before I knew God. Could I just go back? What would happen to all the friends I had made? And why would I go back? Because I thought I had to.

If I can’t do this ‘being a Christian’ thing right after all of the support then perhaps there is just some deficiency in me. Maybe if I lose faith in the face of adversity, not even real adversity, then I can’t have faith. But I what I kept coming back to was. I need God. I need Jesus.

Yesterday I went to see the movie Australia. I had never heard about it before but Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman I figured it couldn’t be too bad. I thought it was an amazing movie. God really spoke to me through it. I don’t want to give away the plot but there is a point where I was thinking, ‘just give up.’ Not long after that the heroine of the movie says, ‘we have to try.’

Before the movie even got much further I realized that was my answer. I don’t know how to make this all better. I don’t know how to turn back to God and accept his forgiveness. All I know is that I have to try. And that’s what I am doing. I’m trying.

Today I went to church for the first time in a while. I took communion. I’m trying.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tonight


Last night I was lying in bed thinking about what to ‘do’ with all of this sadness I feel. God brought some people to mind I work with who have also lost loved ones. All of their losses are more recent than mine. Then I thought about how when I was honest about how I felt many people reached out to me. God carried me and protected me.

I thought about the people around me who may not have the same level of support I have or don’t have anyone to talk to about their grief. As hard as the last week has been, it would have been much harder had my friends not been supporting me. I have felt your prayers and been truly grateful for them.

Tonight I feel tired, in a good way. I don’t feel spent or lifeless. I just feel like it would be good to sleep.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ghosts


I was watching a television program where a young doctor is being ‘haunted’ by the ghost of her fiancé. The interesting thing is this haunting is not all that scary. In fact, her fiancé is not ghoulish or frightening at all. Yet she wants so much to get rid of him even though she loves him and wants nothing more than for him to be with her again.

The thing about ghosts is that they keep you stuck in the past. That is why this young woman wants to get rid of her ghost. What I am noticing is that everyone around her knows something is wrong but she doesn’t want to tell anyone. She won’t talk about her ghost or her feelings.

Some days I wonder how God expects me to move forward, never mind live abundantly. November is a month that I generally struggle in. I have been fighting the feeling the past several days. I just need to acknowledge that I am a little bit sad. Maybe that is why I have this feeling of being stuck. I have things I need to deal with but have not.

Whenever I have a major change I start to miss my Mom. She is not here to share in seeing the newness of the new place. I think about the empty place where she should be. I think about all the things I wish I would have said. I know she would be so proud of me, my job, my new place. She would celebrate my new appliances with me when they come.

As I begin to make Christmas arrangements part of me feels like I am betraying her. Christmas without my Mom just never feels right. Perhaps that is why I always end up putting it off. November 20th is the anniversary of her passing. Somehow I feel like I can't engage the busyness of Christmas before that date.

So maybe it’s okay to just be for a while. I have been so blessed by God in the past few months I almost feel guilty asking. But Father will you come into that place where I feel empty?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

In The Starting Gate... Having a Nap


I feel like I am stuck right now. I have spent the last two and a half months focusing on getting the house ready to sell, then packing, then unpacking and settling in. I always had that major ‘to-do’ on my list. Now, while I still have a few decorative things to take care of, all of that is behind me and I wonder what my next steps are. You know what’s funny? In the meantime I don’t want to do anything.

I am listening to the people outside clear the snow off their cars. I should probably do that. I started cleaning my apartment last weekend but didn’t quite finish. It’s not that dirty and I could clean it really quickly. I should probably do that too. Oh I need a few groceries…

I have spent so long being overwhelmed that now I don’t know what to do with myself. I have dreams. I want to walk alongside people who are hurting. I want to show others how to share their faith. I want to spend more time writing and posting to this blog. My heart aches to have more to life than just going to work and coming home. My problem is where do I start?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tied Up In Knots


I have been so blessed that God has met me in the details of my move. There have been a few close calls – hours where my stomach was tied up in knots. Then whatever I was stressed about would be resolved. I would be elated but also a little bit guilty. Why didn’t I just have faith? Why did I allow myself to get that way?

God is teaching me about that. First of all I thought about the summer. I was so anxious and nothing brought me relief. Yet I also was hungry for God. I was open. I listened. I ended up moving into a condo where I feel safe and secure. I have much less to worry about, much less to do. I wondered if it hadn’t been for that feeling how I would have been propelled to the decision.

Second, why do I necessarily associate that feeling in my stomach with not having faith? Perhaps it is not about whether or not I have the feeling but what I do with the feeling. Do I turn to God or to other things? I won’t say I always turn to God. Sometimes I turn to other things. If I always try to manage the feeling in my stomach rather than recognize that it means I need to seek Him, I will be in danger of always getting caught in a trap.

One Hundredth Post...

I was about to post here and I realized that this is about to be my 100th post. I can't just post any old thing here can I? Hmmm....

Blogging has been an amazing experience for me. In a way it is part of the way I serve God. I share so that others may be blessed and encouraged by my journey. I also find that I work through so much of my 'stuff' by writing about it. If I didn't have an audience I wouldn't write nearly as often as I do. Thank you for reading and for sharing. And thank you for coming along for the twists and bends and travelling in reverse.

When I read some old postings I marvel at how much God has brought me through and how much I have grown. I enjoy going back and reading those posts. I remember the feelings and the thoughts. I remember God's work in my life. When God 'remembers' someone, he is about to do a work in their life. When we remember, we do a work in our own life.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Happy Dam-it


I realized last week that I was taking a big chance talking about happiness. I have always been reluctant to ‘admit’ that I was happy because it seems like every time I did the shit hit the fan. I noticed last week that I was starting to have some darker thoughts. It started with imagining what would happen if I got sick again. Then all the bad things that can happen when one move. Then I noticed that some dark thoughts were coming into my head. I fought all of it but it seemed to stay.

Perhaps this is not some defect of my mind or my spiritual maturity. Mid-week last week I resolved to be happy. That worked for a bit but then a fairly significant problem with the house sale/new condo purchase came up on Thursday. This whole process has been teaching me to trust. I am not only trusting God in a general way but trusting that I am able to discern His guidance. That has been constantly attacked.

So I sent out a note to my friends and prayed myself as well. And God provided. I am also learning that perhaps it is not that I am unable to trust. I don’t talk about this very often on my blog but there is an enemy of our soul. I have worked so hard to try and become more emotionally mature. I have sought God. I have grown a lot. I know I am a different person than I was even this time last year.

But no matter how hard I try I still have these thoughts sometimes. And I am beginning to realize that maybe at this point the battle isn’t with my mind so much as with the lies I am being told. Perhaps the biggest lie is that I am somehow defective and it is impossible for me to be happy. I AM happy dam-it

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Change Is As Good As A Rest


Today I was amazed at all of the changes in a very short time. I looked back to how I felt less than two months ago. I was upset, overwhelmed, and on vacation! I couldn’t believe how miserable I was. I had a lot of trouble enjoying my time off. I wouldn’t say it was exactly relaxing. I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t deliver me. Today, during the worship in church, I understood.

My process to get to the place where I realized it was time to move happened during my vacation. And while I was totally overwhelmed on vacation I am at peace now. If you think about it, that’s a miracle. Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. I am fortunate that all has gone smoothly so far. I feel really good and I am looking forward to the day I actually move.

I don’t know where the saying “A change is as good as a rest” comes from but I have been thinking about how true it is in this situation. I believe God has held my hand through all of this. The process of selling and buying was extremely stressful. I find that now that part as done, I feel new again. I am happy. I don’t deserve it. But I don’t not deserve it either. Thank you God for this time, and for being so patient with me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Acceptance


Last night I was freaking out. Everything is going so well that I really can't handle it. Yes, I am a bit weird. I realized that deep down somewhere I don't think I deserve all that is happening. I have so much joy about my new home. I realize now that God was using everything in the summer to help bring me to this point.
I realized that I have trouble accepting God's blessing. He has led me to this new place. He has blessed me with a home where I really believe I will be very happy and comfortable. Yet there is a part of me that is having trouble accepting this blessing. I don't say this tritely but I clearly heard God say to me last night, "I am trying to bless you!" If frustration is an emotion we can ascribe to God I think that was what I heard in His voice. I have as much trouble accepting the good as the bad. Sometimes surrender is as much about allowing God to do his work in the good times as it is about accepting the bad circumstance. At least it seems that way for me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Changes


If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. (Psalm 139:9-10)

It’s been a long time since I have posted. Life has been quite the whirlwind. The way I left my blog may give some the impression that things got much worse so I just stopped writing. In fact the opposite is true. Things have become much better.

Just over three weeks ago I decided to move. I did a lot of work around the house to prepare it to sell. On Monday I sold the house. Now I have to find a new place to live. The possession date for the house I am currently in is a little over a month away. Yet I have a sense of peace about it all.

I have been able to sense God’s presence through this whole process. It has been stressful and exhausting at times but it has also been really rewarding. I could even see God’s hand in the couple who purchased my house. They were looking for a house just like mine (there are very few houses like mine in the city.) They are thrilled and so am I.

Yesterday I had an awesome meeting at work. On the way home I started thinking about all of the changes and possibilities. I had the thought that maybe this is my year. Maybe this is the year I am going to look back on and say that this was a ‘summer’ season in my life. All of a sudden I got really scared. What if I was wrong? I have been hopeful and optimistic before…

As I calmed down I started to think about what exactly would make a year ‘my year’ anyway. Am I waiting for a year absent of trial? God doesn’t promise that. What He does promise is that He will find us where ever we go.

This past year has been one of the most challenging of my life (I think of life in terms of school years.) Yet this year has been the most abundant year of my life. I have seen meaning in the darkest of times. I have connected with people in new ways. I am starting to learn the art of inter-dependence. I am seeing in myself a greater capacity to love.

So as I embark in this new exciting time I learn to trust Him more and more.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tears - Psalm 56-8

I used to think I had run out of tears
Empty, pointless I was done crying
Yet God came and coaxed them out
His well never runs dry

Some days
I wonder
If there is a point
All these tears never ending

God’s mercy is in tears
Cleansing, sometimes comforting
Always somehow an expression
Of a yearning for something

In my tears I lose control
I give them to Him
He is my Saviour
He collects my tears


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Anxious 2

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:25, TNIV)

Sometimes I wonder if my faith is too shallow and in many ways I am certain it is. I have noticed that when things start to go wrong I start to doubt within my core being that God will intervene in my struggle or trial. Oddly enough this seems to happen when the small stuff starts to get to me.

Even within my doubt I know somewhere that God is there. Yet I still find myself anxious, stressed and overwhelmed. No matter how often I proclaim God’s goodness or remember His faithfulness there are times when the worry doesn’t pass.

So I search for ways to make myself feel better and I feel certain guilt. The Bible tells us not to fear doesn’t it? So where does that leave those who are afraid? Are we outside of God’s will? Have I sinned? How do I stop sinning?

No wonder the anxiety gets worse. If I believe that letting the things of the world get to me is putting me out of God’s protection then I am going to put as much effort as I can into not letting it get to me. Yet it just gets worse. I cry out to God to help me but I still believe the lie that I have to get rid of the stress on my own.

I felt God calling me to the park today. So I drove to a nice park, sat on a bench with my Bible and my journal, and let God lead me. On some level I knew I was looking for the verse above. The Scripture from Luke is often referenced for those seeking answers on what to do with anxiety. The passage by itself leaves me feeling helpless and alone. Yet when I read the verses surrounding it I realized it is wrapped with encouragement.

Consider the ravens. They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than the birds! (Luke 12:24, TNIV)

Thank you Jesus for meeting me where I am at today!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Remembering

When I had my surgery I was amazed by and grateful for the smallest things. When you think about I was paralyzed, put to sleep, had a machine breathing for me, a surgeon cut me open, pulled out my appendix, stapled my skin back together, then they woke me up, encouraged me to breathe, then walk… The fact that we can survive and even thrive after that is a miracle.

One of the first signs I noticed that things were getting back to normal was when I yawned the third night I was home. There is a wholesome healthy feeling to yawning. I had been exhausted up until then but never yawned. The next day I was walking better and I started to be able to eat more normally. Little by little I was more able to function.

When I am fearful that God has abandoned me I think about that yawn. I think it is a marker for me. Tonight as the stress of life is overwhelming I remember the yawn. And I proclaim that this too shall pass.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Turned


Thursday during our church gathering I was reminded about something that happened in December. I haven’t discussed it with very many people. I came to the point just before Christmas where I gave up on my faith. I didn’t stop believing in God. I stopped believing God.

The consequences of that decision were dramatic and very quick. I came to believe that the fight wasn’t good. I gave up. Suddenly I found myself plunged into a very dark place. I used to be very comfortable there. I was surprised to find myself desperate to get out. So I grabbed my Bible and looked up something in the guide about being far from God.

I read Jeremiah 2:22 which says:

"No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. You are stained with guilt that cannot be washed away." I, the sovereign LORD, have spoken.

Wow that’s harsh…. I looked up the reference again. I was reading the wrong chapter. Jeremiah 3:22 says:

“My way ward children” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”

Besides being a huge relief I was glad that I had read the wrong verse first. I could not cleanse myself. I couldn’t fix it. But my God was there waiting for me. I just needed to turn back to Him. I am so grateful that my faith doesn’t depend solely on my consistent belief in God’s promise. And in many ways God did heal my heart, slowly and gently.

So why was I thinking about that this on Thursday. One of the things our pastor touched on resonated with the experience in December. Yet it also resonated with my experience today. I am not actively angry. I haven’t “turned from God” like I did in December. Yet in some ways I feel my compass is off. I am apathetic. In some ways I think that is harder to deal with than the active anger.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Feelings


Somehow I grew up to believe that my job was to survive life. I saw my life as a series of trials to get through punctuated (hopefully short sentences) with some good times. I had good reason to believe that. It seemed that I had more than my share of heartache and loss by the time I was twenty two. I wanted something better but the life of abundance seemed to be something others had.

If you live with those assumptions, it isn’t a far stretch to believe that it would be best to get through the crisis and loss with the least amount of emotion possible. What would be the point of feeling all of that deeply? In some ways it doesn’t make sense to engage deep emotion if you don’t believe in God. If you don’t believe in God there is no anchor, no refuge, no safe harbor, and no safety net.

I decided not long after I became a Christian that one of the ways I wanted to live differently was to feel more deeply. Believing in God gave me the courage to do that. Slowly I came out of numbness. It hasn’t been easy but it is better.

Cult


This morning I was watching a documentary about a cult that existed in Quebec and Ontario in the seventies. One of the experts described the process of getting pulled into a cult. He said that members often tell him about a conversion experience. They feel instantly welcome and different than they have felt before. In their hearts they crave more of it. They ask for a next step. They will do anything to keep having their experience.

When I think about church I often struggle with the fact that I am not necessarily feeling an instant connection and intimacy. It is work to be part of a church. I crave the feeling of being part of the group. I want to be part of something that pulls me in. Something that makes me want to take the next step. Sound familiar? I think in a lot of ways I have been looking for an experience that would only be satisfied by a cult. How scary is that?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Anxious


Last week was challenging for me. No there was not a crisis at work. I wasn’t even extremely busy. It was just a bunch of little things that challenged my feeling of peace. I have been feeling overwhelmed by life lately. I don’t know why.

After I had surgery I remember thinking that the little stuff would never get to me again. For weeks I had that perspective. I let the little stuff go. However it was also a struggle sometimes because most things didn’t seem to matter. It was difficult to re-engage work when you have the perspective that only life-threatening events really matter.

I have found myself back into work. I think I am taking a balanced perspective. I have found it a lot less frustrating lately. I have let go of a lot. I have a great week at the end of June. I remembered why I enjoy my job. I felt like I had contributed something meaningful.

Last weekend I posted about feeling distant from God. I tried to spend time in prayer but I couldn’t really settle down enough to feel connected. So I read the Bible. I read for quite a while but I settled on Psalm 91. I have been trying to read the first part of it out loud before I go to sleep:

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare of the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I am trusting him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from the fatal plague.
4 He will shield you with his wings.
He will shelter you with his feathers.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor fear the dangers of the day,
6 nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Service Engine Soon


Today I was supposed to go and visit my Dad. He lives on a nice creek. It is a beautiful day out. I got a few kilometers down the road and the ‘Service Engine Soon’ light in my car came on. I just brought my car in last week and I trust the mechanic so I don’t think my car is going to blow up. Yet it didn’t make sense to chance a drive all the way out there.

I was really disappointed. I found myself stuck there (in the disappointment) and not knowing what to do about it. I have been fighting with myself all day. It would be so easy just to go and buy something or do something else I shouldn’t. I felt God calling me to Him hours ago. So what did I do? I played a video game for two hours. Why do I believe these lies?

I know that missing out at a day at the lake isn’t the end of the world. I could have recovered the day quite nicely. Yet the little things are adding up and getting to me lately. I realized this afternoon that it isn’t only my car’s engine that needs attention. I can’t let my spiritual life slide.

Insult to Injury


A few weeks after my surgery my foot started to hurt. It started as an ache in the middle of the night that seemed like a cramp. Two days later I was icing my foot and I could barely walk. The pain kept me awake. Even the strong medication I had didn’t put a dent in the pain. I woke up in the middle of the night and my foot was so swollen that I thought I might have a clot. I went to the hospital and I didn’t have a clot. But the doctors there couldn’t really help me. They didn’t know what the problem was.

When the pain in my foot started I was so discouraged. It was like adding insult to injury. I was getting better after the surgery. I was going for walks everyday. I was almost ready to go back to work and all of a sudden it was horribly painful to walk again. This time the pain wasn’t part of a healing process that I knew would be short term.

It has been a very difficult year for me physically. I hurt my wrist last summer and went to physiotherapy for months. Then I had the appendectomy, then the foot issue. I think in some ways I gave up. The feeling of wanting to make something of my life seems less urgent if it is there at all. In some ways I have a “life’s a bitch and then you die” attitude.

I am not depressed. I don’t know what this is. With the summer it has been easy to slip into a rhythm of doing little and doing whatever feels good. Yet I have this feeling of anxiety, lack of groundedness. I miss God. It’s not that He isn’t there anymore. I have chosen to ignore His calling on my life the past few weeks. Father please forgive me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Self Care

When I was first home after surgery I could only really focus on taking care of myself. I made sure that I either gave myself a sponge bath or took a shower, prepared meals that always included a fruit or vegetable, made sure I got enough protein, went for walks, drank plenty of water, got plenty of rest. Although I was healing and often extremely tired I did notice that when I did feel good I felt really good (the opposite was true too.) I realized today that it was probably a function of taking care of myself.

It is ironic that as I have returned to my normal routine a lot of that has gone out the window. In some ways I found myself yearning for that time of intentional self care. I miss the rhythm I had of getting up and focusing on healing and wellness. I had a list of things I absolutely had to do to take care of myself. That was my only job. Now I find that I am always focusing what is going to happen when I get to work or wherever I am going. I don’t miss the pain or the extreme fatigue except that they were a good barometer. They forced me to take care of myself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Truth

About 18 months ago I started a bible study with a couple of co-workers. The bible study was called Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. One of the concepts Blackaby talked about was that the truth is a Person. We talked about that in our study. It really didn’t make a lot of sense. Part of me knew I understood it on some deep level and I just couldn’t explain it. I think I also had a sense that it was something very important.

As I have told the story of my appendectomy through this blog one thing has become very evident to me. When I just simply wrote what happened and how I felt God was very easy to see. God was in every moment of it, guiding me, caring for me, protecting me, sending people to care for me, prompting people to pray, reassuring me that I would be okay, helping me turn to Him.

The truth is not some static concept. The truth is a Person. It is the Truth that sustains me.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

In Control


This morning I realized that my Mom would have turned 65 last December. I started thinking about the ‘what-if’s.’ If my Mom were alive I would have planned a really big party for her. I would have made it a surprise party but she would have found out. I would rent a room in the back of a restaurant that had food my Mom loved. My family would be there. My brother would be alive too (I mean if you are going to be in the what-if’s you may as well go all the way) and there with his wife and three kids. I guess that at least two of my brother’s kids would have driven themselves because they are adults now.

I wonder what my life would be like if my Mom were still alive. Would we live together still? If we lived together where would we live? I wondered how our days together would look like. Sharing meals together would be a nice experience to have. I have lived on my own for so long I barely remember what it is like to live with someone else. Although I was 22 when my Mom died I was only technically an adult. I still hadn’t experienced a real job or having to be totally responsible for myself financially.

Then I remembered that I am a Christian. I believe in a God who is in control of all things. Thinking about the experiences our losses have robbed us of is certainly part of the process. However I think I have a tendency to live my life as if things are not as they should be. My life is not a mistake. I am not a mistake. I believe in a God who was, who is, and always will be in control.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Happiness


Yesterday I realized I was really happy and calm. I thought about it and there wasn’t really much of a reason. Work is challenging right now. My foot is still very sore and it is often difficult to walk. It was raining which usually makes me irritable. Yet here I was. Happy for no reason.

I cherish those times when I feel that way. I did not will myself to cheer up. I believe that God does that for us. I know life isn’t about being happy all the time but it is sure nice when it happens. I had a great evening out with a friend. We laughed so hard we were in tears. It sucked that Chapters was closing and we had to leave.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Truth Part 6

When you have surgery they like to paint you with iodine. I mean they don’t just paint the area where they are cutting or even what you would think would be around it. They paint feet around the incision. The iodine needs to come off.

After my surgery, in the middle of the night, the nurse was explaining this to me. They were going to clean the iodine off. I had the orange iodine stain from half way up my stomach to about a quarter of the way to my knee on my leg. A medical aide cleaned it off for me.

For some reason this process has become a light bulb moment for me. I remember this humble kind young woman gently cleaning off the iodine from my skin. There was a light on in the room over my bed but it was still pretty dark. It was just after surgery. I couldn’t move very much. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to sit up. I was exposed and vulnerable to her.

The woman slowly took a cloth with warm, soapy water, and cleaned off the iodine in sections. She would clean a small section and then dry it off with a towel so I didn’t get cold. If I jumped a little when she got to a tender spot she would apologize and slow down even more.

I thought about that experience quite often after the surgery. It seemed very important to me. I know God sent her to take care of me but it was more than that. One day God told me that was a tangible picture of how He restores us. He takes those broken, vulnerable, exposed pieces and gently, painstakingly cleans them off if we let Him. He even cares enough to dry us off so we don’t get cold.

Truth Part 5


Earlier in the day, when I was in the first hospital, I had thought about the kind of patient I wanted to be. I thought about the fact that I am a Christian and I should be shining light into the world. I tried to be as polite as I could. I tried to express my gratitude to the people that helped me and always say thank you. I think for the most part I did that.

Yet I think I had more in mind. Did people know I was a Christian by something other than the presence of pastors and church people at the hospital? Did they know me by my love? I don’t think they would have.

When I woke up from surgery I was not prepared for the pain I would experience. The first thing I remember is the anesthetist saying, “Wake up Misty, the surgery went well.” The next thing that immediately followed it was an explosion of pain. It was worse than before the surgery. I just kept saying (screaming to the extent I could) “Ouch, it hurts, ouch…” I think I started to panic. “I also remember saying that I didn’t like being awake. I was only sort of kidding.

I suppose that reaction is only natural. I know that nurses in recovery probably have seen a wide range of experiences. I just hoped mine would be better. At least I did say thank you to the nurse that had taken care of me in recovery when I got to my room.

Even beyond that I wish I could have affected my roommate or the nurses on the ward or even the medical aides. I guess it is not all up to me.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Truth Part 4


Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)

While I was in the emergency department a couple of people came to see me. The first was my pastor and the second was my best friend’s husband. After being home alone for 36 hours in pain followed by being in two different hospitals for 18 hours before they took me to surgery it was amazingly comforting to see people I knew. I also had a sense of being taken care of. I ended up having someone with me until I was taken up to surgery.

While my pastor was there he anointed me while oil and prayed over me. I believe that is the moment that God saved my life. Later the doctor told me that the appendix was really bad. It had perforated in a way that was safer than if the main part of my appendix had ruptured. My appendix was ½ hour to 45 minutes away from rupture. I was already really sick and weak. I didn’t have a lot of reserve left. I can’t prove it. I just know. If my appendix had ruptured I wouldn’t have survived it.

So what if I hadn’t been anointed? Why are others anointed and still die? I don’t know. I do know that God is bigger than our symbols. I know that He makes choices over life and death and I don’t understand them. Of course He could have saved me without the oil. He was in the process of saving me by nudging me to go to the hospital at the right time and making sure I got the surgery in time. I still believe in the power of being anointed.

The knowledge that God saved me should have filled me with joy. Instead thinking about how close I came to death upset me. I couldn’t figure that out. I know that part of the problem was that the experience was just plain traumatic and I had to process that. Yet there was something more. I knew that there was something else I needed to figure out.

One day about a week after the surgery I figured it out. If I had died, what hole would I leave in the world? Yes I know people would miss me. But how would people’s lives be different if I was gone? What difference would it make? Six months after I was gone what would be worse about the world than before I left it?

I know that I have heard people ask that question or prompt me to ask that question of myself. I have never felt it as deeply as I did after the surgery. God had spared me and my life should mean something. Why was I saved and other people who are way more deserving than I am die? Why do children who have so much promise and life ahead of them die and I live? I had this sudden realization that in many ways I have been wasting my life.

Once I had that realization I also came to the conclusion that it was too much pressure to decide what it was God wanted of me right then. My job at the time was to heal from the surgery. Since then I have been waiting for God to show me what it is that He has planned. I have been frustrated because my physical healing has been slow (and complicated by foot injury on the opposite side.) Today I decided that those revelations come one day at a time. I need to rest in Him. Perhaps that is part of what the anointing was about.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Healing


A week and a bit after my surgery I went to my family doctor to have my staples removed. We were talking about going back to work and I mentioned that they didn’t really want me to be there if I was sick. For some reason it was important to her that she correct me. She said, “You are not sick. The sick part of you was taken out. You are recovering.”

Today I was at a women’s conference at my church. The topic was around the area of emotional healing. Near the end of the day I started thinking about that appointment. I thought about the way God heals. So many times in my life I have wondered if I was okay, normal, whether the fact that I still struggled meant that God had not healed me. Today God told me, “I have removed the sick part of you. Now you are recovering.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Fork in The Road I Haven't Found Yet


I have noticed that in the past couple of days I have had a general sense of dissatisfaction with everything. I am grumpy. Everything pisses me off. I am having trouble keeping the little stuff in perspective. As I was waiting for the bus to take me home (and on the bus too) I kept going over the latest reason why I feel like I have been overlooked. The sane part of me kept trying to let go but I couldn’t.

Do you ever feel like you need to make a decision about something but you are not sure what the question is? I feel that way. I want to start changing everything and adjusting to see if I can find a way to feel better. Yet I know I have to be patient. God will show me what He is after. I am finding it hard to be patient…

Monday, May 26, 2008

Truth Part 3


I already wrote about waiting in the hallway of the St. Boniface Emergency. I was eventually moved to a room in the emergency department. It is really weird to be lying in a bed waiting for emergency surgery. The surgeon had talked to me in the hallway and was very open to me asking questions. The problem is that I couldn’t think of any questions. And really thinking of any questions seemed sort of redundant. I knew instinctively that I was very sick. The appendix needed to come out.

I never really thought about dying. I was more afraid of being really sick. In hindsight I realized that I live with an assurance that I never really understood before. I feel grounded that I am going to heaven. I remember hearing the testimony of someone who had an experience on 9/11 where he became very close to dying. He was completely sure that he would go to heaven. He had no fear of dying. He only asked that it wouldn’t hurt very much. I had thought to myself, I hope I feel that way if I know I am going to die. Now I know that God did give me that peace.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Truth Part 2

Around 5pm the doctor came and told me that I needed surgery. What he actually said was that the CT confirmed the problem was with my appendix and that generally required surgery. They didn’t have a surgeon at the Grace so they were going to transfer me to another hospital. I took that to mean I was having surgery that evening. If they weren’t pretty sure I needed surgery they wouldn’t go to the effort. Somehow the doctor’s attitude about the surgery made me feel pretty calm.

The nurse hadn’t been able to reach anyone. We held off on calling others until I found out where I was going. Then the nurse came back and said it looked like I was going to St. Boniface hospital. Within moments the paramedics were there. The nurse wheeled my bed over to the phone so I could leave a message for my friend. She dialed the number and handed me the handset. When I couldn’t reach to put the phone back on the cradle the paramedic helped me.

As I was being wheeled out of the room the nurse who had been so helpful asked me if there was anyone else I she could call for me. I asked her to call my pastor for me. I had begun to realize that if I was going to need surgery I couldn’t continue to go through this on my own.

I realize that was the time things turned from feeling sick to being really traumatic. I was wheeled into an ambulance. All of a sudden things seemed to be happening fast. I needed surgery. There was no time to adjust to the idea. No time to prepare. I was not going to be able to meet my obligations. As I was in the ambulance I realized I was missing my appointment to get my hair cut. I felt terrible that my hair stylist was going to be waiting for me during an appointment she could fill with someone else. I was supposed to be going to a conference that weekend. Work was busy and I was at a critical stage of a project. All of that was very important and not at all important at the same time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day


For the first few years after my Mom died I ignored Mother’s Day. Well I didn’t totally ignore it I guess. I knew better than to try and make plans with friends. I didn’t go out because I knew restaurants would be packed. I reasoned that Mother’s Day just wasn’t a day for me anymore. I managed to do that for five Mother’s Days in a row. Then I started going to church.

You need to understand that when I first started going to church I didn’t miss a single Sunday for a year and a half or something. I was baptized the weekend before Mother’s Day. It was a really exciting time in my faith walk. However it was that weekend I realized that the church would acknowledge Mother’s Day. For the first time I didn’t want to go to church. I dreaded it the whole week – even though I was freshly baptized.

Each year I ponder whether I am going to church or not. The general stand up if you are a Mom so we can applaud you makes me feel empty and like a loser. I am not a Mother, I don’t have a Mother, yet I am an adult woman. Even when that doesn’t happen I feel like I am ruining others Mother’s Day. It is a day to celebrate. It is a day we should celebrate. Some of my friends were already mothers when I met them. Some were not. For those who I have always known as being a mom that is part of what I love about that. For those I have watched make the transistion I have been blessed by seeing them transformed by having a child. I do my best to celebrate with them and encourage them. Yet for me it is a day of grieving what I have lost and what I don’t have.

This year I wish my Mom had been around to take care of me through the crisis of the surgery and the recovery afterwards. I wonder if it would have been a little less scary. I feel a hole in my heart where a mother’s comfort should be. In some ways I think that thinking about why I am missing my Mom right now honors her. I guess it is my part in Mother's Day.

Truth


I haven’t posted in a while. There are a couple of people who have even asked me to post. In the world of blogging I have noticed that there are some common reasons that people who are active bloggers don’t post. The first reason is that their life circumstances have changed and they are too busy during this season to post. The second reason is that there is some block to their posting. Something they are not ready to talk about. I am more in the second category.

The thing is that there are many other topics I could talk about but for some reason I keep coming back to this. I made the excuse that people were probably sick of hearing about the appendectomy. I mean seriously. It is only an appendectomy. The problem is that I don’t have much else going on. So what else can I post about?

I don’t have any big secret that I am holding close to my chest. However some of the truth about this experience has been so raw that I have been scared to even think about it – never mind write about it. I also have a tendency to want to spiritualize everything. I want to be able to talk about my experience of God, finding God in new places. And I did find God. I just can’t put it all in a neat package.

One of the truths I have glossed over is that I knew in my heart that there was something really wrong. God prompted me to go to the hospital the day before I did. When I went to sleep I made sure I had a phone close by. I left the door unlocked so help would be able to get to me. I hoped I was wrong. I didn’t trust that voice inside my head that told me I needed help. I put up with a lot of pain for a day and a half praying that God would remove it.

I took a cab to the hospital at 4:30 in the morning. I didn’t set an alarm so that if someone needed to get into the house for me the alarm wouldn’t be an issue. I arrived at the hospital and was seen shortly after 5 am. The triage nurse and the doctor suspected that the problem was with my appendix right away. I phoned in sick from the hospital. I waited for the CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

It was 1:30 in the afternoon by the time I got the CT. The pain had gotten worse. The morphine wasn’t helping very much. When I got back from the CT I was in even more pain. I was getting sicker. My heart rate and blood pressure continued to increase. My urine had a lot of blood in it. The pain started to change and move. I started to cry. I remember whispering Jesus’ name over and over. I was alone and frightened. It was 4pm and I was beginning to think they weren’t going to help me.

When the nurse came back I had managed to compose myself. Yet as she took my vital signs I started to cry again. I was apologetic saying this wasn’t like me. I know now that perhaps it would be like anyone in my circumstance. The nurse was very kind to me. She asked if she could call someone. I gave her a phone number and even the prospect of her calling someone for me calmed me down.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blessed

The first night I was home from the hospital was pretty rough. I hadn’t really slept more than an hour or two for the last four days. The pain was really bad especially when I had to stand up and walk anywhere. Sitting up in bed was an agonizing proposition. I had tried to lie down on the couch but found out that it took me half an hour (not exaggerating) to get back off of it.

I went to sleep that night hoping that being in my own bed would help me have a peaceful, restorative sleep. I did sleep for about four hours until the pain medication wore off. I must have woken up grabbed a glass to drink some water because I remember waking up soaking wet with the glass lying on my chest. I remember having a vague feeling of ‘oh crap’ and I fell back asleep. I finally became more alert and realized I had a real problem. I was in terrible pain. I needed water to take pills to make the pain go away. Since I had spilled the water I was going to have to get up to get more. Oh yeah, I was wet, my pillow was wet.

I decided to get up and watch television while the medication was kicking in. Before I did that I had a verse in my head:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3, NIV)

I wanted to look up the verse on my computer. The verse in the New Living Translation reads:

God blesses those who realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them

I felt pretty far from heaven at that time. I didn’t understand what was going on or why it was going on. I still don’t really understand but I do know that God has been providing for me and taking care of me. For that I am very grateful.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Holy Lord


About this time last Thursday night I was lying on a paramedic’s stretcher in the hallway of the St. Boniface Hospital Emergency Department. I had been transferred from the Grace Hospital when they found out that I needed my appendix removed that night. My condition had grown gradually worse. My heart rate was really high and they were pumping me with fluids to try and keep it down. The pain was terrible. The hospital was very busy and they had trouble finding someone who could give me pain medication.

I was alone and really scared. The pain was becoming harder to bear. I had been able to reason out God’s presence in the hands of the people who cared for me. I needed to feel Him. Lying strapped to a paramedic’s stretcher that is hard to do. It is hard to think about any prayer or way to call out to God. So I did what I could.

I begin to sing one of the first songs I learned as a Christian. It was the version of Holy Lord by Steve Bell. After a few times singing the song the nurse who had come with me in the ambulance came over to see if I was okay. My eyes were rolling back in my head and I guess I appeared to be muttering to myself. When I told her that I was singing she felt really bad. She was powerless to get me pain medication.

But I didn’t feel powerless. I could feel God’s presence. The pain medication didn’t come immediately but it did come soon after that. I also got a bed not much later. A couple of people came to see me before I went in for surgery that night. I no longer felt alone. I was still scared about the surgery but somehow I also knew I was held. Even if my appendix did rupture I would be okay.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Need


I used to think that one would be much better off to go into the hospital, find out something was wrong, and have it operated on the same day than to have a chronic problem that they had to have a scheduled surgery for. I mean the suffering would be shortened right?

On Thursday I had an emergency appendectomy at 11pm. Having your appendix out is actually a fairly routine minor surgery. Having an emergency appendectomy is a different thing. It is still minor surgery but I had no time to process what was going on. I had no time to think of questions and no time to prepare.

If I had known I was going for surgery I would have cleaned my house, bought groceries, given my employer time to make plans for my absence, told my friends that I was going to be in hospital, and prepared some things that I would need with me in the hospital. None of that happened.

Leaving the hospital on Saturday was pretty overwhelming. I had some immediate needs like cleaning my house and people to bring some food for me to eat. I couldn't even really clean up after myself when I ate. I was thinking yesterday that believe I have never been in a position of such need before. Then God gave me a word picture. Even with the profound need I have this is really nothing compared to how much I (we) need Him. Like child who doesn’t really understand the logistics of groceries and cleaning the house I need God every day more than I know.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Poor Visibility


Today I was driving home from a retreat. It was very sunny and not all that cold but the wind created treacherous conditions. Snow drifted across the road and collected there. Parts of the highway were quite slippery where the snow had partially melted and frozen again. The worst part was the visibility. There were some points it was very hard to see. At one particular section I ended up slowing down to about 50 km/hr in order to even stay on the road.

As I thought about that experience I reflected on the earlier part of the day and even the rest of the weekend. A retreat is really about slowing down isn’t it? As the retreat went on I felt a growing sense of unease and a vague sense of sadness though. I couldn’t understand what was going on. The interesting thing is that I was surrounded with people who would listen to me if I could articulate what was going on. But I just didn’t understand where my emotions were coming from.

We did an activity where we were asked to find a sacred space with Jesus in our minds. We could imagine being anywhere we wanted that seemed right to us. There were more instructions after that but I didn’t hear them. I was too busy crying. As soon as this person invited me to go to that sacred space I was there. Jesus had a lot to say to me.

There wasn’t anything huge going on. I have been really excited about my life lately. Yet underneath that has come this awareness that I am a little bit scared. I don’t know what life will bring for me in these coming weeks and months. I just have a sense that God has used the past 14 months to prepare me to move.

I found comfort in Jesus’ arms. I also found that I had strength in Him. It wasn’t a huge thing that I needed clarity on. I was just feeling vulnerable and I needed some support. Like on the snow covered highway I needed to slow down to be able to see. In terms of my spiritual life, visibility was poor. But when I slowed down to spend time with Jesus I was able to see a little bit better (but not perfectly.) So the next storm that comes my way, even the little ones that are really not storms but just high winds, my prayer is that I remember to slow down.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Clearing My Throat



Words stuck in my throat
The shame, the sin, the pain
Somehow they keep life out
Keep love out
Keep love in

The words seep out
The shame, the sin, the pain
Somehow the breath of life comes in
Love pours in
Love overflows

There is grace in truth
The freedom, the joy, the peace
God’s mercy abounds
A promise made
A promise kept

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Warfare

The first time I went to church I was in a car accident about half a block away from the church. I made a left turn and a Jeep I hadn’t seen smashed right into me. There was $12,000 to my car. I had a rental car for over three weeks. The frame was bent. The guy at the auto body shop asked me if I was sure I was okay when he saw the damage to my car.

I didn’t go back to church for quite a while. Although I didn’t really have a strong faith I knew intuitively I was in a spiritual battle. I wasn’t prepared to fight it so I didn’t go back until the summer when a friend convinced me to go. She offered to pray a prayer of protection over me. I even remember finding comfort in that. So that was the beginning of my Christian journey.

I spent a long time going to that church before I attempting taking the same route I did when I was in the accident. It was something small and not horribly inconvenient but God wanted to claim that back. So the day I was baptized I heard God say that he wanted me to go down Broadway. I argued a bit but I decided to be obedient and go that way. I arrived safely and after that day I didn’t think twice if I took that route.

Sometimes we unwittingly concede a lie that we are told. Over a year ago someone made a comment to me that left me believing that my fighting a spiritual battle was somehow responsible for the bad things that were happening to the people I love. I knew in my head that was absolutely silly. The problem was that belief somehow made it into my heart.

Unlike turning left off of Broadway you can’t make a tangible action to claim the truth. I finally confessed to some people that I was feeling that way. They prayed over me and I finally let it go. There are some burdens we are not meant to carry. That was one.

I am learning about spiritual warfare. One thing I have learned this week is that we are only meant to carry so much. I also learned that we can not fight this battle alone.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Down Payment


The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God. (Ephesians 1:14)

I was reading Ephesians 1 today and I stopped at this passage. The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee. What could that mean? Interestingly I have read this passage more than a dozen times. I never noticed it before today. I am not sure why. In the spring I was studying Ephesians. I even wrote a few blog posts on it.

The guarantee that is being referred to is like a down payment on a loan. God is using the Holy Spirit to show us a piece of our inheritance. So feeling lead by the Spirit or all of the other ways we experience God here on earth is only a small portion of our true inheritance. What a powerful metaphor!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Roller Coaster


The beginning of this year has been a roller coaster ride. Usually that has a negative connotation and I have to admit that I do find it exhausting. Yet if you think about it when you are riding a roller coaster you are held in securely. You go up and down and even upside down and you are held securely.

In hindsight I have noticed a change in the way I handle things. I noticed that I tend to be less likely to carry shame (or at least more likely to notice that it is getting in my way and push through it.) I used to think that if something went wrong I was somehow responsible. If I was responsible I thought that I should try to handle things myself. Somehow without my knowing that is changing.

I have also noticed that I tend to go to God with my emotions more quickly. Although I can’t claim that I leave all my troubles at the cross I can say that I find myself at the cross often. I used to not even understand what that meant. In some ways the language Christians use make things more difficult. When I say I find myself at the cross I mean I find myself bringing my circumstance, emotions, pain to Jesus no matter how yucky they seem.

I even seem to be walking in a confidence I can’t explain. Yes there are ups and downs and I don’t always have all the answers. Yet I seem to know that my circumstances are temporary. I also know that I only need to ask God for the answers.

The other night I found myself very happy. I had no idea why. I was seriously giddy and happy. I am experiencing that more and more often.

I asked for prayer the other night. I am seeing changes in my life but I have seen changes before. Although happiness (or giddiness anyway) is temporary and I can live with that I don’t want the other parts to ever go away. I was afraid it was all fleeting.

Today I realized that when I only notice a change in hindsight it must already have some permanence. And if changes happen without me understanding how that must be God working in my life. God is the unchanging and the ultimate picture of permanence. Somehow I feel like I am less on shaky ground than I thought.

A Beautiful Story

If you read my Christmas letter you know I alluded to being affected by a friend who had been through two profound losses one after another. My friend had twins in the summer. Six weeks later one of the twins, a boy, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Athophy. He passed away on November 27th of last year. A week after his funeral they discovered their daughter (the other twin) had the same disease. She passed away on January 12th of this year.

My friend has chosen to share her powerful story in her blog. Although the story is sad it is also full of God's grace and an abundance of hope. She has started her testimony and will continue to post as she is able.

Click here to see the beginning of her story. The link is also in my website list on the left (Nicholas gift, Olivia's hope.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Peace


Today my pastor taught on peace. I was shocked to find that I actually identify with what he was describing. I mean I feel it today. I was shocked because even though what he was saying resonated with me the last two weeks have been filled with turmoil. It’s not like I have been sitting in the middle of it with my legs crossed and thumb and middle finger pinched together in a serene state of meditation. Yet somehow I could say I have had peace through it all.

To say the peace has been animated would be an understatement. I have been frustrated, disappointed, in awe of God’s glory, filled with joy, filled with grief, felt an urgency to act when I was helpless to do anything, been comforted to see real good in people, seeking wisdom in what to do, and in the end feeling like I needed a rest. There was an undercurrent of peace in all that. For I felt all the feelings but directed them at the One who could handle them. I asked for prayer when I needed it. I set some boundaries to allow myself to rest. I withdrew without isolating myself.

All of this happened without my really thinking about it. I have been frustrated for the past few months with the seeming lack of any change in my life. Now I know by looking back on the past couple of weeks that I am changed. I am full of gratitude for that.

Peace has been an elusive state for me. Perhaps it is because I have seen it to be like a lake on a windless day. But the clear glass-like state of a waveless lake would bother me after a while. There is no movement. I never thought that the world had to stop in order for me to find peace. I believed that I had to stop. I would have to stop having strong emotions about what was happening around me. I think that’s the part I had wrong. Perhaps peace isn’t about the absence of other feelings but the presence of something else.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dreams Part Two

James asked me what I thought about my question of the place of dreams. I have to admit that my response a week or so ago would likely have been in the neighborhood of ‘life’s a bitch and then you die.’ And although I don’t want to seem fickle or flighty I have to say I feel better today.

I think that dreams are a fundamental part of the human experience. God has created us to dream and he would be cruel to allow us to dream without allowing us to realize any of those dreams. I know that I tend to focus on pain quite often but if I look for the truth I know that God has allowed me to realize some dreams. As I write this I think of the position I have at work right now. I applied for the same position when I first started at the company I work for. So it took seven years. I even forgot that I ever wanted the job. Yet unexpectedly I am suddenly doing it.

I guess the struggle is that I need to know where my striving needs to end and I need to allow God to step in. One of my biggest dreams is to see God use me to do things I couldn’t do on my own. To be honest I haven’t seen that happen in a long time. Yet I have seen God use me in miraculous ways this week. It comes in the context of the tragedy that prompted the question of whether there is a point to dreaming. That probably makes it even more miraculous.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dreams


We get (and give) so many mixed messages as Christians. I guess that is why we call it faith. I know I have hinted at this before but today is the season of resolutions. I am thinking about dreams and desires.

On one side of the fence there is prosperity teaching. We as Christians are children of God. We are entitled to an inheritance. Health, wealth and happiness are ours for the taking. We just need to have enough faith or say the right prayer even and bingo! The world is our oyster.

Okay that sounds sarcastic and to some extent it is. I am intentionally exaggerating to illustrate my point. Here is the question. If we don’t subscribe to prosperity teaching what is the other side of the fence? Are we entitled to nothing? Should we not allow ourselves to have desires or dreams?