Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer School

 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."~ Philippians 4:8


It feels as though it has been a long recovery process. My life has become scheduled around the next medication dose and how far from the sofa I am able to walk. All of this lying down has given me alot of time. Time to nap, watch movies, read, play on FaceBook, text and ALOT of time to think. "Think and wonder, wonder and think" as Dr Seuss so aptly phrased.

As I sit here, 8 days after surgery I realize there are many lessons learned throughout this experience.My own little Summer School has been in session. The lessons I have learned apply to recovering from surgery but also, can carry us through life, through crisis, through anything.

My lessons?

*You're stronger than you think. You can look fear in the face and conqueror things you never dreamed possible. 

*Life will throw obstacles in your path. Its a given. The obstacle it self isn't important. How you respond to it is.

*Deal with issues promptly. Whether medically, relationally, personally, professionally or spiritually, don't allow situations to the end its harder that way

*If a situation is infected. clean it out. Dig deep, find healing. Do whatever it takes to get yourself well. "Do your best and trust God with the rest."

*Its vitally important to take care of yourself. If you don't,  there WILL come a time when you are of no use to those around you. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, its called HEALTHY.

*Pushing yourself beyond your limitations will eventually lead to a problem, a meltdown, a set back.

*Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time, to rest, to heal, to learn.

*When you allow them, people will  show up....sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. But in order for them to show up you have to say yes. Yes, is a risk. Be willing to take risks.

*Usually, the people who show up aren't the ones you expected to.

*Be heartfeltfully grateful for those people. There's a reason they are part of your world.

*Don't waste time fussing over the ones who don't show up. Accept it for what it is and let it go. Truthfully, it is that simple.

*Learn to say no. Sometimes saying no is  the best thing you can do for yourself.

*Often when you do say no, it gives other the freedom to do the same. Freedom in relationship is essential.

*The little things aren't important. When you really get down to it, we spend our time on details that don't matter. The dog hair, the dust, whether the laundry is done, the dishwasher is unloaded, or the car is washed..... really in the big picture,  it does not matter.

*Little things are important. The smell of fresh brewed coffee, the warmth of sunshine on your skin, the sound of a cardinal calling for her mate. Tiny details we miss in the haste of our lives can sometimes be the most fulfilling.

*People matter. A loving touch, a quick phone call, a long hug, make a difference in someone's day. Is there someone you should reach out to? More importantly, is there someone I should reach out to?

I've spent alot of time alone these past 8 days. My family and friends have done a fantastic job of checking in, loving me, and   taking care of me. There has been alot of self reflection and discovery. Its actually been a really good thing.  I've come to realize that I am becoming more OK with me than ever before.

I can see some changes I need to make, some attitude adjustments, some relationship adjustments, and some  re-adjustments to priorities. I'm excited to watch it all unfold :) Excited to but the lesson into life application.

Father God, thank you for your healing touch and the many lessons you teach us each day.  We all have choices to make. Often those choices affect the course of our lives. Help me to make right choices in the thoughts I think, the things I say, and the life I live. The life you died for me to have. In your name I pray, Amen

Hugs and Happy Weekend!

Michelle <3

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What is Love?

" Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love"~1 John 4:8

It just doesn't seem fair sometimes. Life, that is. Life just doesn't seem fair.

Back in January of this year, I declared 2012 the year of ME. The year I would get healthy, the year I would learn balance. The year I would make myself a priority. It seems as though ever since I made that decision there has been nothing but obstacles in my way. My BFF lovingly refers to them as "opportunities to practice" but blah, they're obstacles.

 As some may know, I lost a substantial amount of weight a few years back. 150 lbs to be exact. No that's not a typo, it is a fact. I did indeed, lose one.  hundred. fifty.  pounds. Due to a 2 year long, self proclaimed, time of mourning and self loathing, I put nearly every pound back on.  Although, disgusting to admit,  I am truthful when I say.... I did it to myself. I had a couple of heart breaking, gut wrenching, awful loses in my personal life and I just decided, deep within my soul that I was unlovable. Unlovable by other people and unlovable to myself. Why bother taking care of myself?  Truth be told I tried to eat myself to death.

In January, I got my head on straight and set about the work of losing this weight again. This time, the right way, with balance, forethought, and sustainability. In Febraury, I spent a great deal of time getting my past where it belonged. In the past. Forgiving other people and learning to forgive myself.

By March, I began to feel somewhat whole. I began to see possiblities and choices I'd never imagined before. One of those choices, came in the form of running. Never having been able to "run" before, I doubted my ability. Spurred on by some other seasoned runners, however, I decided to try a Couch to 5K program. Little by little, 30 seconds at a time, I trained myself to run. I endured shin splints, cramps, blisters and to my surprise, severe boughts of diarhea after a run. Severe. Explosive. Violent.

I ignored some symptoms and kept pushing. Determined to do what I'd never done before, I ran through pain, I ran through blood, I ran through a lump that continued to grow in a place lumps are not intended to grow. After six weeks, I knew I could no longer ignore the problem and visited the doctor, expecting a prescription and orders to lay off the running for a while. That didn't happen. I was immediately told I'd need a surgical procedure and to head on over to the ER. What?!

Needless to say, I spent several weeks recovering from the procedure, wanting to run, not able to and very frustrated. I was told by one doctor everything was fine, completely recovered and I could close the chapter and move on. During this time, the world seemed to swirl around me. Discontent at my home church invaded my thoughts. A demanding work schedule daily, trying to make up lost time at my job. A nerve-shattering disagreement with my most beloved friend, left me reeling with inner turmoil. I completely shut down. For days, I didn't speak. I couldn't speak. Infact, I was pretty damn angry. If God loved me so much why was I hurting so badly?

Medically speaking, the  the new lease on life was short lived. Symptoms returned. I returned to the doctor and was sent to a specialist. Within 72 hours I found myself on a surgical unit, having a much more invasive, much more painful procedure.

I've had alot of time to think these past 24 hours since the surgery. A major revealation hit me yesterday. Don't laugh? For me it was  a lightbulb moment. During all of these awful experiences, there were moments of intense love. Love that I haven't ever considered before.

Growing up the way that I did, I have never understood "a fathers love". Actually, I have never truly understood or felt God's love. However, recently I have seen glimpses of that love. Glimpses, moments, and pieces that touch me and hold me up during moments like this.....when I'm counting the minutes until my next pain medication dose.

What does God's love look like? What does love in action mean?

*It comes in the form of a single Mom of 8 children. She works all day long, budgets every penny and spends the time and gas money to drive 20 minutes out of her way to deliver road side daisies to my door. When she arrives, I'm alone, on the porch, angry, hating myself,  unable to speak. She tells me the daisies remind her of me. "Cheery, bright, and often overlooked".  I still can't speak, she just hugs me.

*It comes in the form of the puppy who does not leave my side. She knows just when to snuggle, just when to lick my face, just when to pull a silly mischevious antic to make me laugh. She follows my every move.

*It comes in the form of a DVD in the mail. 600+ digital photos of my grandfather. He died 15 years ago this summer. My brother Scott made a copy of all the pictures and sent it to me, without my knowing or asking for it.

*It comes in the form of a journal. A beautiful Italian leather journal. From a friend I haven't seen in a while. A friend I wondered if I mattered to? A friend I wondered might be departing from our friendship?

*It comes in the form of the daughter, who makes me scrambled eggs and brings me chai tea and unloads the dishwasher.

* It comes in the form of a boss, who cares more about my health improving than about the goals we're not achieving this month.

* It comes in the form of doctors, nurses and providers who do everything they can to make you comfortable, answer your questions and make this absurd situation seem a little less absurd.

*It comes in the form of a sweet voice calling from college to say "Hi Mumma, how are you feeling?"

*It comes in the form of a hug, from an 8 year old little girl I love to pieces. "Feel better Michelle, I'll miss you this weekend".

*It comes in the form of the countless text messages, FaceBook messages and calls from friends, promising to pray, asking how you're doing, how they can help.

*It comes in the form of a BFF who brings you a movie to cry with, a book to loan, bright yellow flowers to cheer you and then lays on your sofa and talks the afternoon away.

*It even comes from the often clueless, somewhat stubborn, no idea what to do husband, who is just strong and ever present in my life...... day after day after day.

*It comes in the form of a Moe's sub delivered by a wonderful friend who understands God's love is shown in many ways and forms. Even in yummy ways.

In all these ways and many many more, God has whispered to my heart recently......" I see you and I love you. I'm right here".

Accepting love, believing I am loved, understanding love.....isn't something that comes natural to me. It goes against most everything that's been taught and demonstrated to me in "the world." But I'm learning. After all, its the YEAR OF ME.....I'm determined to learn this lesson too.

Thank you Father, for showing me the Truth of  real love. It doesn't always come in a neat and tidy package tied with a bow but its always signed with Your Name. May I always remember that it is as important to receive your love as it is to give it generously. In your name I pray~Amen