Thursday, October 3, 2019

Who's Your Boss?

I'm already posting again...Crazy I know.  Haha!  Life is so busy and I often have great intentions to write an update or share something I've been thinking over, but then sleep overtakes me. Thankfully we are sensing a bit more settling and that is a welcome thing!

The past week has been tough though. From car problems, to the stomach bug {me being victim #4} to heavy thoughts & decisions needing to be made, to just parenting 5 children - 3 if whom have been through so much in their short lives, to another ER visit for Mark, yesterday. Whew!  Life comes at you like that from time to time. 

Yesterday, Mark had a pain issue that has been building and suddenly was pretty severe. Like 10 out of 10. You're probably thinking, well why did you let it get that bad?! I would likely be thinking the same thing....but it's something we have spoken to a couple of his doctors about on several occasions and they blew it off as a symptom of his picc line. Well, the picc line came out two days prior to this intense pain, so that could no longer be the source and it really amped up as well so we figured we should get on in to see what the cause might be. Mark suspected pleurisy, but some of the symptoms didn't seem to match up, and regardless of the cause, he needs relief. 

*This post is not intended to put down any medical system or professional* but y'all, our medical system in America is not good. The heart of my post is what we as Christians should do with low work ethic around us, and declining standards of care whether in healthcare or otherwise...

Yesterday, I called Mark's doctor's office and spoke with the sweet lady at the front desk who was generally concerned. She said because of the nature of the need and issues he has had and is currently having her computer wouldn't allow her to schedule him. I'm assuming because of liability - when the patient says "chest pain", you can't just schedule them for next Friday and hope all is well until then. 👀 She did say, let me transfer you to the nurse and if she thinks it's not urgent, then she can give you an appointment. Call is transferred, but no one answers. I left a detailed message explaining what is currently going on as well as what he has just been through. I still haven't received a call back more than 24 hours later. This is sad. 

We decided that waiting may not be in his best interest so we just headed on the ER. Although quickly placed in a trauma room, he was able to get a fantastic nap because no one came to the room for well over an hour. Now, I will certainly tell you, we were in no way in need of a trauma room, but because of his history and the recentness of his surgery and infection they placed us there but didn't follow through. When the doctor came in, other than listening to his heartbeat and a quick push on the place of pain, there was no exam and no real attention to any details of what has been going on. As he left, I whispered, "Wow, he didn't seem like a doctor at all", and Mark replied, "No kidding!  He really reminded me of a taxi driver".  Hahaha!!  And he was right!  

All of this got me thinking about a number of similar situations in the hospital and in working with doctor's offices over the past few months. It all really made me wonder...for who or what are all these people working? Then, I asked myself the same question?? Who am I hoping to make proud? From whom am I hoping to receive promotion?  As followers of Jesus, our mission is to make His name known and to bring honor to God our Father through ALL of our work. Not just the service project from our church or the money we give to missions. NO! Mommas, it's through folding our laundry, making lunches, balancing work and family, getting up at 3am again, going to the grocery store, listening to our kids as they walk through tough times, and on and on. And Dads, it's going to that job that is such a drag, or heading to your second job to get your family ahead, it's being engaged in mealtime or game time when you would rather do most anything else, it's putting together your child's toy or the broken gutter or a broken heart, it's keeping the yard in order....students, it's doing your school work as unto the Lord - as if He is the only one asking you to do it.  And why?? God's word says to do EVERYTHING as unto the Lord. EVERYTHING!!  Not the things you enjoy, or the things labeled as spiritual. It's the things you enjoy least. It's your secular job or maybe your church job. It's the thing He has called you to do. Or maybe the thing you are doing right now as you wait on His timing for what He has for you next! It is whatever He has placed right in front of you today!  But how can you motivate yourself to keep this up on days that it's really, really hard?? The simple phrase - "Great is your reward in Heaven"  

If every Christian working in healthcare worked their job fully as unto the Lord, then no government breakdown or restriction could keep it from improving. If every Christian teacher worked as unto the Lord, then our school system could be changed for the better. If every person in ministry could recognize when they step across the line of this thing, big or small, could make a difference in someone's eternity to I have to get this done before Sunday, then our churches could see revival!  We could go through every industry in America and say the same thing and every single one could be touched by the passionate work we could accomplish, as Christians, when we stop seeing our earthly boss as the one watching and the one we're working for, and see Jesus in that position!

Not only does our work improve when we have this mindset, but our expectation of the outcome of our work improves as well!  We begin to see Jesus in situations we may have missed Him in before. I've challenged myself today, to fill up the dishwasher with a great attitude, to smile as I sweat while putting out all my fall flowers and decor in 98* weather, to stay patient when bedtime lingers and the stalling tactics grow stronger, to give hugs before discipline when I'm frustrated at attitudes that are crummy. I want to see Jesus in everything I do, and do everything for Him!  

I'm thankful for His hand on Mark and trust that He can work through this new medication whether we're really treating the real issue or not!  😝  Who knows, maybe taxi cab drivers make good doctors too??!  Happy Thursday, Friends ~

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


I just love when lights fade smoothly on a set or music is faded so smoothly that at first you don't even realize it. It's such and easy transition from one thing to another and I'm all about that life. Most of the time though, actual life doesn't play out that way. It's lights flipping on at the end of a much too short night of sleep, or music bumping to a screeching halt of silence. Our life has felt a bit like that over the past few months. Although it wasn't the very first time he's driven away since his illness, I couldn't keep the tears from forming as I watched the tail lights on Mark's car fade as he drove to work for the first time today. The last time he drove to work was in is crazily, October. OCTOBER! We are different people now. Our kids have been changed as well and some days, like today, I wonder if their little hearts will ever feel secure again. I know it takes Jesus and often, just lots of time, but the change is hard in many ways. Our old lives seem to have faded away and walking confidently in the new way of life can be tough.  

At the beginning of all of this for Mark, I knew and I think he did as well, deep in our deepest place that something was seriously wrong, but who wants to believe that or accept that?! The room I walked into following his heart cath had a huge window with sun streaming in, yet it felt incredibly dark and cold. Not only was the news not what we wanted to hear, but it was way, way worse. A thousand questions went through my mind, while trying to hold it together for him because I knew so many more thoughts were running through his. All the fears from his first surgery returned to me, fears I thought I had laid to rest. The weight of not one child at home, but now five tugged at me with a swirling chaos. Then the uncertainty of his wishes regarding an impending surgery felt crushing. You see, after his first surgery, he said, I won't do this again. If it happens again, then it's just my time to go. Let me die. 
I could not even allow myself to go through that phrase in my mind, yet I could not get it to leave. I silently prayed that my legs could continue to hold me up and that my face could remain calm, even if everything inside me wasn't. 

The night after this, I began waking up several times a night, in a complete panic. I couldn't explain it and yet couldn't stop it. After this happened sometime late Thursday night, I did my usual prayer and declaration of peace and God's best not only for Mark, but for myself and our family, but I couldn't go back to sleep. I grabbed my phone and read through some scripture and a devotion then curled back into my chair in hopes of getting another hour or two of sleep before someone popped in for blood pressure, labs or another x-ray. I didn't feel like I went to sleep, but I also didn't feel fully awake but I began seeing scenes play out in my mind. It was much more real than a dream. I saw us at the hospital, I saw us hugging and saying see you later, I saw myself sitting in a room and then I saw Mark start to rise up into the air. I was then outside watching him and he continued to go higher and then stopped and was just suspended in mid-air, surrounded by beautiful, puffy, white clouds. Then I saw a blinding light and knew it was God our Father and Mark then looked away from me up toward Heaven. I began begging God to give us more time on earth together. I felt like I should say something really spiritual, and wanted so badly to do so. Something like Your will be done, or it's okay if You have another plan, but in my vision, I didn't. I did however hear, Him say something to me about words. Something along the lines of it's in your words. Everything went black. I had no resolution or promise of what may happen.  I "woke up" literally sobbing like I had been in this vision. A deep, aching began inside me that I couldn't shake. I wanted every moment we had together because I didn't know how many might be left, and then I realized that every day on this earth is like that. Sometimes we get the gradual fade of a long life, lived well, but other times we don't. There isn't a fade. It's light and then it's dark. My outlook on everything during those days changed, yet it should have already been this way, really, but it's tough. We don't often live life in true light of eternity. Humanity causes us to live as if this life is the pinnacle, but really, we're just beginning here. 

I didn't know what to do with what I had seen, so I just asked God for wisdom. SO.MANY.TIMES I wanted to climb up on the bed with Mark and pour it out to him and just cry, but something stopped me - Let me insert this here, that if you are unsure about the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, this is a fantastic example. He kept me from speaking as the Lord began to show me some truth. - As surgery day drew closer, my dread grew stronger.  The day before surgery didn't go at all as hoped. I wanted us to have a special time with our kids and talk about life and love and that didn't happen. When our children headed home, I almost told Mark why I was so upset about not getting to spend that time with them, but the phrase, power of life and death kept replaying in my mind and I stopped again. Every moment alone, in the restroom, the elevator, the waiting room or the car brought uncontrollable tears and prayers for Mark to come through this, for hope and faith that God's best could be accepted as "the best" in my life, no matter what it might be.  

Surgery day.... what a day! It started earlier than they had said it would which added to my chaotic thoughts. I've been in pre-op rooms many, many times and this was so different. 
It felt rushed. They did very little durin gour brief time there and the doctor didn't even come by, so when they suddenly said, give your hugs and kisses, everything in me wanted to scream, it's not time!! I could barely even get I love you out because of my overwhelming emotions. I felt selfish in that moment for not being able to say more or even stand there and watch until they faded down the hallway, but I knew I could only hold it together for so long and I didn't want to fall a part in front of Mark, so away we went. 

Waiting on anything is hard...for Christmas to come, for your name to be called at the doctor's office, for school to end, for your grandparents to arrive, for your baby to be born, for morning to come...waiting is almost always hard. For me, waiting in a surgery waiting room with lots of chatter and jokes and laughter is so very difficult. I know folks mean well and it's not something I love about myself, but it's part of my make-up. In this situation with so much weighing on my mind, it was even more difficult. I needed to stay on top of my thoughts. I have said it so many times throughout the past few months, but it was and sometimes still is a constant battle to take thoughts captive. It is as if, my thoughts continue to build, even while carrying on other conversations, then I suddenly feel buried under them. I sat by the window in the furthest corner of the waiting room and watched the sun rise. It was a beautiful day, but I kept seeing the image from a few nights before replay in my mind as I watched the clouds move. When surgery was over and the doctor spoke with us, I was relieved, yet felt something restraining my feeling of relief. After briefly seeing Mark, then a time of waiting, a volunteer took me to see the area I would be able to stay for that evening. He was an older gentleman who was so gracious and kind. He said, oh, lets walk very slowly so you can see your husband, as we neared his room. We did, and it was wonderful. The nurse gave me a smile and nod as we went past. As we returned about 15 minutes later, he again said, we can walk by very slowly, but a nurse interrupted his words as she ran out of room 10 in ICU. She looked at me and said, "Oh good, we need you to come in here right now. Remember when you saw him a bit ago, we talked about more than 250cc of blood lost in an hour? Remember how we said, that would be too much? Well he's lost 200cc in less than 15 minutes. They're clearing the OR and he's going into surgery now. Say your goodbyes, we have to go." 

That vision came back, fiercely, in that moment. I kissed his pale face and they unhooked things faster than I thought possible and they began wheeling him away. A surgeon I had never met walked up and said, "We are going to do all we can. We will have to open him back up and we will try to find the source of the bleeding." And suddenly a very busy room, was empty and things were all over the floor. It felt like I couldn't even make my way out, because all I could see was Mark, suspended in the air between Heaven and earth. My feet were lead, but somehow carried me back to the waiting room. There was still family and several friends there in the waiting area and we all began to pray. They held me up and interceded for me and for Mark when we needed it most. The next few hours we mostly sat in silence. Waiting. Every imaginable thought went through my mind... Gracious, what a story God was writing... How would I tell my children that their Daddy went to Heaven?... What lasting effect might he have from this complication?... How does a person leave the hospital without the patient and without ever coming back to get them?... And a hundred and one other questions.... Today, marks a day we can finally say, we are on the "other side of this", but it hasn't come without challenges and even new worries, just tonight. The enemy is relentless in his attempt to derail our thoughts from what God has to what could be. I pray we never let go of the lessons we've learned, the struggles we've made it through and the strength we have received from Jesus!! 

The Holy Spirit taught me some things through all of this and even more as we went back into the hospital a week later for an infection that could have also, easily taken Mark's life. When we allow it, He works on us while God the Father works in us. I learned a new facet of the scripture in Proverbs 18:21 - the power of life and death are in the tongue. I always understood it to mean, in very simple terms, speak positively. Although I knew this vision wasn't of my own imagination, especially when he began to bleed out, I felt restrained from speaking it to anyone else. Not "giving life" to this by telling Mark or anyone else gave me something that just God and I knew. I could intercede for this, specifically, without letting my emotions get out of control. And I had to do it. Not just for Mark, but for myself as well. In doing this I also realized that the Holy Spirit had gone before the situation and although I didn't expect something bad to happen, I did expect and know with certainty that whatever did happen that day, in the days following or even in days still yet to come, God would not leave me and would be carrying me through moments that felt unbearable. He had prepared me for the unexpected; for the moment I felt as if everything in my life as I knew it might be fading away.

The moments following the call back to give me the report from the second surgery were excruciating. They led me back to an area that looked much like the picture above. It was called the Quiet Room. A room in which I had not previously met the doctor. Post surgery #1, he met us and talked freely in the hallway...this time they led me to this doctor's consult room, quietly asked me to take a seat, then shut the door as they walked away. On our way there, we walked right past ICU room 10. It was empty. The lights were off. No nurses buzzed around the room. My heart may have stopped beating for a moment. Even as I type this, I feel a weight in my chest that makes it hard to breathe.  I honestly have no idea how long I sat there in that room. It felt like hours, yet may have been a mere 5 minutes. With every breath, I asked God to calm my mind and heart. It was the only way I felt I could continue breathing.  After speaking with the doctor at that time and another surgeon a couple hours later, they both spoke grimly and said, it's still touch and go. Words so hard to hear, yet as I replayed the things that had happened throughout the previous few days, God filled me with strength in those moments and in so many following. 

I always try to wrap up with thankfulness but also with something I pray someone will be able to take away and be encouraged by or challenged personally. Our thoughts can run wild day and night, but be aware of what you give life to through your words. Even jokingly, our words carry more weight than we realize. I'm sure most have heard the phrase "battlefield of the mind" and it is absolutely true, but you have the power to give life to it or to kill those thoughts that try to run wild by what you speak and what you hold back. When you don't see it or can't understand it, whatever "it" is in your life, speak the words of God and watch life come to yourself or the situation you are facing. Trust the work God is doing around you. Allow it to prepare you for what He sees is ahead even when it makes no sense. Seeing those images made no sense to me. I hated them, in fact. I wished with everything in me I could unsee them. A few days later, they were the very images that pushed me to pray like never before and trust in what I could not see.

Our story is still being written. Our journey to healthier living is far from over. If I'm being honest, the challenges of this disease aren't gone now and will likely always be unless God supernaturally heals. Through it all, we will speak life. We will allow God to prepare us, as He sees fit, for what only He knows is ahead. Some days recovery has felt like we are fading away into the unknown, but we trust that what may be the unknown to man is always known to God. We will continue to thank God for folks, literally around the world that prayed on Mark's behalf as well as those who tangibly touched us during this time of illness. 

The Lights Flickered

You know when you're in the midst of a storm and the lights flicker, you wonder how bad the storm really is? Or if you've missed a w...