Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

This birthday is really very special, friends, so I write, praise, and celebrate with you!

-  Yes, I turned 40 today!
-  Yes, this marks the 5th week of healing and recovery since back surgery!
-  And yes, God even gave me a birthday verse today!

From a summer of pain and the inability to walk God intervened on my behalf, got me an earlier surgery date, and has healed me.  During my recovery, I stumbled upon this story and wept.  Have you read it before?

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

I don't know if she celebrated her next birthday with black balloons and a Non-fat, Decaf, Pumpkin Spice Latte, but we find her story in the 13th! chapter of Luke. This story has comforted by heart in recent weeks and provided an example of how one WALKS through their recovery...glorifying God...much like we are called to WALK through life.

Not to be outdone by a passage of scripture, God grabbed my attention while reading his Word this week.  John 3:6 has stolen my heart and will be a theme for my 40th year!

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

At the last minute, 40 years ago today, my mom changed my name from "Jill Anne" to "April" saying, "It was a new, fresh, spring-part of her life arriving in motherhood" and wanted to call me April like the month of new beginnings. sweet right?  But being born of my parents only allows me to be April, with similar DNA, blood type, and that charismatic Farley personality. I, myself, am limited.  However, being reborn of the Spirit did something huge in my life and planted the Holy Spirit in my very being.  Now, more than merely out of flesh, I am capable of doing things in the Spirit, by the power of Spirit, and for the Spirit.  As the Holy Spirit indwells a believer, we are warned not to quench or grieve it.  Follow it, yield to it, and obey it.  When we don't, we are limiting how we can live.

So, Happy Birthday to me!  To be born and celebrate 40 years of life, is an amazing blessing!  But being reborn and having the opportunity to tap into the divine power of God through His Holy Spirit by the grace of His Son is the only way to truly live.

The next 40 years is going to be great!  What will God want to do with little 'ol me given the resource of the Holy Spirit He has put at my disposal!  I'll be writing and let you know!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Surgery Scheduled!

Friends, I have had a mild break in my pain and I wanted to thank you for your prayers.  God has intervened on my behalf and I am humbled and grateful as I type before Him.

Remember when I asked you to pray for the follow-up appt. to be moved forward?

Well, in the last two weeks God has intervened twice.  First, without my asking, my physical therapist called the Dr. to try and get me in sooner than August 16th because nothing seems to be improving.  Nothing could be done to the schedule but they would try.  Next, the Dr.'s nurse was at my son's last swim meet, and without my asking, she said she would see what the schedule looked like because she could see that I was in terrible pain.  Well, on August 1st, I got to see the Dr.  WOW!  Two full weeks earlier than expected because of God's mercy.

At that appt., I learned that surgery is my only option right now because when the disc ruptured, it ruptured at L5, S1 (right above the tail bone), and wrapped around both sides of the spinal cord, and it hung on bone spurs.  Leaving it alone stands a greater chance that I could loose control of my bladder and bowels than I do with the surgery.  I asked the Dr. to have mercy on me and my family and try to get us in as soon as he could.  After he checked his schedule he said it would be today, but it got postponed just a bit and it now TOMORROW at 7 a.m. because of God's grace!

To prep for surgery I had to stop taking the antinflamatory meds, but could keep taking the nerve block.  Little did I know how that would awaken the tremendous pain, tingling, burning, cramping, and stabbing pain down my left leg.  Relief was found on the floor, propped up on two pillows under my stomach, on a down comforter.  My left leg can't bare any weight.  But not for long!

It has been a blessing to see how God's hand has worked!  My mind keeps going back to the time when four friends grabbed a corner of a paralyzed man's mat, opened a roof of a house, and lifted him down right to Jesus's feet where he was teaching in the home, asking for Jesus to heal their friend, and Jesus did!  The friends did the lifting, the carrying, the de-construction of the roof, the lowering, and the bringing the man right to Jesus.  What friends!  What faith they had in Jesus to do the work their friend needed!  Jesus saw their deep faith in God.  When the crowd obstructed the doorway, that didn't stop them, they found another way and didn't stop!  The friends knew it would only be by God that the man could be healed, inside and out.

I am blessed by the many, many prayers that been "carried" to the Father for me and my family.  Thank you for taking my heart's cry right to the place where Jesus is.  No door, or roof, or appointment book was going to stand in the way of God caring for me.

Soon, I plan to Arise...put away my mat...and walk without pain.

The surgery is scheduled for 7:00 a.m. on August 7th. 

Thank you in advanced for praying and having a corner of this...
(Thanks for the help with the photo, Mom!)

Grateful Girl on a Mat,

Monday, July 15, 2013

Disc-o-gram or "Disco"gram?

After reading last week's posts, an elementary school friend reminded me of my "Accident Nut Award" in Girl Scouts (circa 1986-87), I don't think she was surprised to learn of my recent state of back pain from falling down the stairs.  Thanks for the smile, Jennifer!

Laughing in Sunday School yesterday about my upcoming procedure, I assured them I do not plan to waltz into the OR this week, dancing under a glittering ball, with "Staying Alive" playing in the background.  I anticipate hearing a heart monitor, smelling latex, and wishing I had my make-up on and my hair NOT in one of those funny paper hats.  It is a disc-o-gram, not a "disco"gram, I explained.  But fun thought, though!

Wednesday's procedure will provide the spinal surgeon the final images needed to determine "IF" and "WHAT TYPE" of back surgery is needed.  I don't know what I was thinking, but the "ever-prepared" and "ever-researched" April watched a disc-o-gram procedure on YouTube over the weekend.  (WARNING!  Please do not try that at home!)  The only GLITTERING silver things I saw were the needles placed in someone's spine.  Bless you for sharing!  Although the surgeon had already explained all this to me, trusty YouTube confirmed:
-  I will be heavily sedated.
-  Large needles will be injected into my back.
-  Additional needles will be placed through the above mentioned needles to reach the finite spots of the spinal discs.
-  The surgeon will wake me up, apply pressure to the discs to determine various pain levels, and wait for my response.
-  I plan to answer somewhere between "None" or "Zero" and "Take Me Now, Sweet Jesus!"
-  Then, I will be re-sedated and the needles will be removed.

Researching all that on-line Saturday morning only brought on more questions, insecurity, fear, and anxiety.  Needing a little more Truth, I turned to God's Word. 

Have you seen Paul's list of sufferings?  Almost as if Paul was blogging to his friends in the world-wide Corinth of his day, he painted a detailed visual.  Paul suffered:
-  numerous near death beatings
-  39 lashes (more worse in his culture than 40, remember I research!) 5 different times!!
-  3 rod beatings
-  being stoned
-  3 shipwrecks
- adrift for a day and a night at sea
- floods, robbers, dangerous people, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, cold, exposure.

Friends, I don't think my list compares!

Because in the end, Paul states that despite all that, he felt the pressure and anxiety DAILY for all the churches that he was trying to minister to.  Seriously?!  That was what was on Paul's mind?!  Continuing the call of Christ?!  Enduring all this by CHOICE?!?!  DAILY?!?!  AS IN 24/7?

My physical pain has just been 7 months and I have found myself rocking from terribly down to just plain whining.  I whined about canceling our summer vacation "adrift" on the shores of North Carolina, how I no longer am able to walk through the "dangerous people" grocery shopping in Wal-Mart at the first of the month, and how I am grumpy after a "sleepless night" on the floor of my living room when the pain wakes me from my warm bed...and other various things DAILY!

Many times, we do not choose what we face, suffer, or try to endure (even if you are an "Accident Nut" like me).  But, we can know and call upon a God who will triumph over ANY human weaknesses.  Struggling with hurts in the home, the heart, and in the huddle of life, rest assured HE CARES and has a plan!

Paul's motivation was but a GREAT BELIEF and gratitude for how Christ, had changed his life's purpose from one who sought to KILL Christian believers to one who sought to SAVE them with the knowledge of Jesus, the Resurrected.  Jesus, too, suffered.  The same POWER that raised Christ from the dead enabled Paul to endure his list and allows me to face mine, Wednesday.  I don't doubt that.  Do you?

The reason that Christ endured His suffering was for us.  So that we would not have to.  So that we could rest in His POWER to overcome all we face.

Let me ask you something.  Are you facing a struggle, hardship, or weakness in your life? 

Does Christ's POWER reside in you?  It can if you call to Him and BELIEVE!

With my second cup of coffee Saturday morning, I got some clarity and saw the GLITTERING LIGHT of God's Word and it convicted me.  Paul quoted King David in Psalm 116:10 when he translated it from Hebrew to Greek and said, "I believe, and so I spoke."
Am I nervous about Wednesday, do I ask myself all the "what if" questions, do I struggle with uncertainty, do I want it all to just go away?  Yes!  However, I believe in God's power to save us, sustain us, and saturate us during times like these.  Christ will see me through this affliction and MORE!  So, let me translate from Paul to April-ish, "I believe in the power of the resurrected Christ Jesus, so I blog." 

I share my ups and downs (and even my whinings) with you hoping you will see through God's Word, not mine, that it is ONLY with Christ's power we are able to have hope and endure things we face.  Anything else is DULL in comparison. 

Everyone has been wonderful to ask what they can do to help my family.  If you want to do something to help, here are 3 suggestions and let's watch God work:
  1.  Please PRAY for me on Wednesday as I face the discogram.
  2.  Please PRAY we will be able to quickly have our follow-up consultation with the doctor (currently not scheduled until Aug. 16th).  I would like to see that date be earlier in Jesus' Name!
  3.  BELIEVE & SPEAK.  Share a comment of how God's power ALIVE in you is allowing you to face suffering, endure hardship, or face uncertainty.  I am sure it will be an encouragement to me come WednesDAY and even to others "DAILY!"

"Staying Alive" in Christ,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lovin' even the Pits!

Erma Bombeck wrote a book in 1978 called, "If Life is a Bowl Full of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?"  I remember seeing it on my mom's bookshelf when I was younger.  Never having read it, I wonder if Mrs. Bombeck knew of my last few months, she would have had me on the cover!

So, in recent posts I shared I fell down our stairs, hurt my back, seen several medical professions, (1 LPN, 2 Spine Surgeons, 2 Physical Therapist, 1 Chiropractor, & 1 ER doctor to be exact!), survived a myleogram, oxygen when my respiration's lowered after pain meds in the ER, and a self-induced ice pack burn on my back A.K.A "frostbite!")  Don't worry though nothing really compares to last night....

Have you met my better half, Jason?  I have known for 15 years that I married up!  I could write a blog just about all the ways he displays what unconditional love is on this side of Heaven.  Last night, after taking off work to help me live through some of the pain and get it touch with my doctor for some recommendations, he did a late night grocery run.  Coming home with something special for me was unexpected.  I tore into the bag of cherries...MY FAVORITE!  Devouring 1 handful, I quickly got another.  Within seconds, my tongue started to SWELL!

Friends, I can not make all this stuff up!

"Jeremiah, go tell Daddy that Mommy's tongue is swelling!"
"Dad, Mom's tongues is swelling" with as little emotion as possible running back to a little cartoons before bed!

We were at the ER within 30 minutes.  Sorry, no pics taken even though a suggestion was made to update my FB photo!  Not happening!

Long story short, after eating cherries all my life, and one of my favorite memories with my Dad and brother Albert, I am the proud new owner of an Epi Pen!

But let's get back to Mrs. Bombeck's book!  We were never promised that this life will be like a bowl full of cherries, but we are promised that the Lord will "never leave us for forsake us" (Hebrews 13:5) and that this world will be "full of trouble"  (Job 14:1), but when faced with it, remember that "no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV).
And as for the pits, that usually describes this life better than cherries, unless you are allergic to them.  Did I mention that this is the year that I turn 40?!?!  What a whopper!  I'll leave you with a few thoughts to carry into the weekend...consider it a mini-Bible study if you relate to this post or are looking for one:

Didn't God get Jacob out a pit and lift him to a position of esteem in Egypt and he even was able to help his family from famine?
Didn't God save Jeremiah from a pit, and even thorough others didn't listen to him, he remained faithful?
Didn't God save Daniel from a Lion's Den, full of fear and darkness, covered by a lid all night long?
Didn't Jesus' words command Lazarus to come forth from the tomb after days?
...and (if you hadn't thought of it already), didn't Jesus arise from the grave?!

All the answers are "YES, and AMEN!"  Look up the scripture references just to make sure!  So, why would we not believe that we would be able to pray to God just like these men and even King David,
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.  Psalm 40:1-3

...and if it isn't a prayer that you can pray in praise today, it is a prayer you can pray for in hopes of tomorrow!

April (with my ice pack and epi pen ever ready!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"BACK" to Blogging from a Convalescent Carpet

Thank you for all the wonderful Welcome "BACK" notes.  Each made me smile!
Plowing through May, I only found myself face first in the carpet by June.  For future reference, friends, nothing gets you thinking about "control issues" like having to drink from a straw with your cheek on the carpet because if you move one muscle too many; it will mean another 3 pain-filled hours to find comfortable relief.
So, why haven't I posted to my blog in over year?
Things had really changed. I was working part-time at church, volunteering at my son's school, teaching a Bible study, helping on a few committees, trying not to drop the ball with dishes, dinner, and dental appts.  All good things, right?
Until I started to feel clogged.  Things just didn't resolve as easy in my mind anymore. Conversations left me strangled at points. I didn't feel I could vent, process, or release my thoughts in any form...not even texting and you just have a 160 character limit! Just how hard can that be?

No matter. I would buy a big beautiful journal and just write privately. Finding one on sale at the beginning of the year would be no problem. I just didn't have time to blog...  Blogging just takes too much time:  posting, uploading, spell-checking, linking, networking. One more "ING" was not gonna fit in my life.  

Then, why was lyING there? OUCH!  Who is lying?  This is really how my life was!

Genesis 3:1 "Now Satan was more crafty than any other beast of the field."...and to think that he even  knows about blogging!
What happened to me could pass me off as Eve's twin sister, only with cute navy-blue glasses.  In Karen Ehem's book, Let. It. Go.  How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith she describes what happened like this (pages 48-49):
Step #1:  Satan hissed hurling doubt April's Eve's way causing her to second guess God's plan and to question his command.
Step #2 :  April Eve didn't stay tuned to God's guidelines.
Step #3:  Satan twisted reality.
Step #4:  April Eve convinced herself.
Here is the short version:
-  Now, remind me why am I spending this time writing? And shouldn't  I update the look of it?  Is it really even good?
-  I stopped writing for an audience of One and started worrying about who was and wasn't reading my blog.  "My" blog?  When did we start calling it "your" blog?
-  This is taking time away from my family. Family is first, right?
-  I will stop blogging until the Lord tells me to go back.
Friends, I was deceived that quick!  Lied to. 
Amen, Karen Ehman! It happens! I was fig-leaf frustrated to say the least.
That isn't what God said.  What just happened?  But the problem didn't just occur with the initial hissing.  Know what God really said?  Not "Start a blog" or even "Write."  
He only said, "Abide."  I had long stopped abiding where I was suppose to be.  Mere functioning, is not abiding.
My ESV Study Bible notes say, "Abiding means to continue in daily, personal relationship with Jesus characterized by prayer, trust, obedience, and joy." There were so many things going on in my life at the time from relational conflicts to schedule MISmanagement and it was MY responsibility to keep it all from falling a part.  Where was the obedience?  The joy?  Not on my knees praying and trusting DAILY like I should, I can tell ya that.  I thought I knew better and could do better.  Than what?  God?! 
EVE-idently! (As I've read from Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Lies Young Women Believe!)
Then, it was only a matter of time before the hissing would strike where it would hurt the most.  And, it did.  Writing before the Lord is where I enjoy my times of abiding the most.  An open Bible, paper, pen, computer, prayer list and the ability to see things in the light of His Word.  You know, the carpet has never felt so comfy!

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you...These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and the your joy may be FULL!"  John 15:7, 11

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Come"BACK"

Don't know where to begin,friends.  It really goes all the way back to this past January.  I realize it is now July and before that, I hadn't even blogged in over a year (more about that in the future), but this has been my recent struggle:

Going back down our entry way stairs to get more luggage from our New Year's Eve trip, I fell.  Seven thuds later, my life has been nothing short of a journey I never expected.  What was a hamstring pull, turned into a herniated disc.  What was a herniated disc turned into a herniated disc, a ruptured disc, and a vertebrae out of alignment, plus a few other things.  It ain't pretty, and I don't need another MRI or X-ray to tell ya. :)

Sparing you the medical roller coaster ride, just to say, "It ain't over."  The reason I am "BACK" is because this physical problem as turned into a spiritual struggle and challenge.  If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times in our girls' Bible study class, "Girls, it is one thing to know the Word, it is another to believe it!" 

My inability to walk at times, grocery shop, cook, do anything, days and nights of laying and sleeping on the floor, medication trial and errors (including oxygen administered in the ER due to falling respirations), physical therapy appts, an ice pack burn (yep, that is a real can goggle photos of people who have made the same mistake trying to get relief!  Honest!), and way too many co-pays have left me often tongue-tired before God.

Until some words resonated deep within me. 

After a 2 week absence from my job as a part-time church secretary due to back pain, I was finally back at my desk for the first Friday.  With everyone asking me how I am doing, I felt lost in how to answer.  Do you really want to know?  Really?  "For starters, I am glad to be out of pajamas today."
Know the feeling?

Music was playing on the computer as I finished Sunday's church bulletin and I heard, " prayers are wearing thin..." everything stopped and I felt as if someone finally knew how I felt without asking me.  You can hear it, too click here.

I e-mailed a link to my hubby (who has been Superman during these last 7 months) and said, this is my theme song right now.  Only to be laying in the floor again tonight and surfing through some frustrations and tears on-line to find this...the story behind the song here.

Is it just me or did you notice it too that God changed the direction of this guy's life with a back injury?  I wept at God's love for me in His attempts to get my attention.

What part of what he said do you want to talk about?!?!  WOW!

Yes, if you are wondering, scripture HAS been by my side, sent to me from foreign countries, texted, e-mailed, written on index cards, but I will never tire of how the Almighty Living God chooses to make Himself audible to a heart that longs for Him, but with ears that are tired, weak, and WORN.

Will share more later, I'm happy to be "BACK!"