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


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.