Saturday, September 12, 2009

To Be Glad of Life, (plus a humble request)

I thought I'd take the time to update you about my regular check-up I had at UCLA on Friday since so many are curious about how it went. Two hours down with no traffic until we hit the Wilshire Blvd. off-ramp due to the September 11 memorial festivities that were happening at the nearby veteran's cemetery. Only 15 minutes late because of it, I was able to sit and do my devotional while I waited for my name to be called in for blood work. Mike had just dropped me off because we had Headband with us and they took him for a stroll through Westwood and walked around the campus a bit before heading back an hour and a half later to pick me up.

After a quick blood draw, I went back out to find my seat taken so I moved across the room to another location and finished my with the Lord and writing in my journal. Then I pulled out a cookbook, Make-a-Mix , and offered an empty seat to a lady nearby so an elder couple could sit next to each other. After a few minutes, the lady commented on the recipe book and I shared it with her thinking she was interested in food, but quickly realized she was not a foodie at all, but just wanted to talk to someone. She was there because of a mysterious illness and was feeling frustrated and nervous about it. She goes to UCLA for iron transfusions because for some reason she is unable to retain iron in her bone marrow and has suffered with this for 3 years with other doctors who remain mystified. Now she has Dr. Schiller and I know they'll figure it out - besides now I'm praying for her and God knew all about it! While we sat another young guy sat across from us and as soon as she got called in, he seemed eager to start a conversation as well. We hit it off talking about learning Japanese and other cultures. It was lively and I was disappointed it had to end when I got called into see the doctor.

The above scenario illustrates why, at this point, I decided not to get an iPod, even though Mike won a $50 gift card from his company the same day Apple came out with the latest iPod models which really tempted me. First of all, we can't afford something like that which is not absolutely essential to living, and then second, relationships. If I had an iPod, what happens, almost every time I visit the doctor's office, couldn't happen. Suddenly, I'd be unapproachable in my isolated world of music, video or gaming. Imagine all the people who would remain alone in their heartbreak or troubles that I'd be basically ignoring. I really could only use an iPod if I had car speakers for it to listen to music and podcasts, which would cost even more money. I'm not saying I'll never own an iPod, but I think I will only reconsider it when I am once again walking longer than 10 minutes or jogging again, and when we've gotten through the medical and prescription bills and property tax crisis.

I went in to get my blood pressure check (perfect), temperature (perfect) and weight (not perfect) ha--not perfect, but not bad either. My bloodwork was all normal and I only have to see him once a month now. I sat in the tiny treatment room waiting to be seen, and in walks, oh I forget his name, but he's the intern that sees me often before Dr. Schiller comes in. He interviewed me and then I heard him out in the hall filling in Dr. Schiller on what I said, minus my juicy details, all the good stuff that makes it sound much more interesting. Then I overheard Dr. Schiller remark, "Well, yes, she is doing remarkably well. Less than 10% of people who have been through what she's been through survive [liver & kidney] failure." He used bigger words - hematic failure and I forget the kidney term, renal or nephrotic? Anyway, it was just another reminder of how awesome God is and what a miraculous thing He did to keep me here, with my brain functions restored. I've been crying a lot lately about this. I'm not sure why.

I struggle with feelings of not deserving God's love for all He's done for me, while at the same time feeling a little envious of other Christians who have gone through the same thing with flying colors. I can be crying about the one and then crying about the other at the same time - bizarre! Either way, I don't get it, but I don't have to get it to know that God is an amazing God who has a wonderful plan for my life and is using all this for my good because I love Him.

I've also been struggling, (and I share these things so that you know how to pray for me), with, what I guess you could call, perfectionism. In my mind, I have all these grandiose ideas of how I need to take care of life - my family, church, friends, the home, school, exercise, eating well, etc. When I attempt to do these things I think I really need to do, I find I can't possibly do it all. It really is too much, but who doesn't feel that way? To me, this doesn't seem like too much in my mind. I'm trying to learn to be kinder to myself, but it's very hard, especially since we don't have the help we once had because I look like I've come so far and don't need help anymore. And I can't afford to hire help, so I'm feeling very blue lately that I can't get it all done. The areas I need help in are cleaning, organizing & yard/patio/garden clean-up. If you feel called to one of those areas and would like to help, I'd take you up on it! I just have a hard time calling up people and asking myself because, again, I look like I'm doing so well. Yet I've been struggling with fatigue and migraines lately and I'm trying to prepare for school starting Monday. I've also been experiencing new symptoms of neuropathy that my doctor would like me to investigate with a neurologist. My feet and lower legs go numb, as well as my elbow and other parts, but the feet is not good when it causes me to trip and fall frequently. I walk gingerly in order to prevent this, but with a tailbone injury I had a couple weeks ago, it's been hard to bend over to pick up things. This also makes it dangerous when I don't have a clear pathway!

Speaking of the tailbone injury...I forgot to tell you how I did that one. It was so hot a couple Saturdays ago, I was nearly delirious. The boys and Mike were out and ice packs weren't cutting it, so I decided to take a cold bath for the first time in my life. I turned the water on and left the room like I always do when I run a hot tub. I didn't realize the cold water comes out triple fast and when I returned that tub was overflowing! I ran in to shut it off, not seeing the 1-inch of water on the marble floor and SLIP, KABBAM, OW! I fell onto my tailbone and lower back and back then head all in one instant. My dog took off and I found him later in his kennel, head down. I told him he was not cut out to be a rescue dog after running off like that when I was screaming in pain and crying for help. Sheesh. Two weeks later and I'm still hurting and can't bend over or get up quite right.

Once we get on our new routine I think life will get easier. The kids are going to be at Artios Academy on Mondays from 8:30-3:30 so that's the day I'm planning my productive days of cleaning as well as planning, and being extra nice to me. Again if you have any time on Mondays to spare, I'd love the company and extra hands, even if for just an hour. Feel free to email me or call. Love my dear friends, yet hate to ask :(

This was so special to me I wanted to share it with you and keep it somewhere I could re-read it anytime I need the reminder! This is exactly what I've been feeling about life after nearing "the threshold" earlier this year. Take it to heart and rejoice! We have an awesome God!

To be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up to the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions, but not contented with yourself until you have made the best of them; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice; to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts; to covet nothing that is your neighbors' except their kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends and every day of Christ; and to spend as much time as you can with body and spirit, in God's out-of-doors--these are the little guideposts on the footpath of peace. ~Henry van Dyke

About Henry van Dyke:

Born November 10, 1852, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and educated in theology at Brooklyn Polytechnic, Princeton, and Berlin, Henry Van Dyke worked twenty years as a minister, first in Newport, Rhode Island, from 1879 to 1883 and next in New York until 1899. His Christmas sermons, his essays, and his short stories made him a popular writer. His poems reveal a classical education as well as a common touch in matters of faith. He became Professor of English Literature at Princeton in 1900. During World War I he acted as American Minister to the Netherlands (1913-16) and then naval chaplain, for which he was awarded the Legion of Honour. He died April 10, 1933.

Colossians 1:10-14

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.