May 26, 2014

The Colorful Life

Remember the old black and white TVs? (Yes, I’m dating myself that I actually remember them.)

My mom recounts getting her first TV when she was 5.  Watching Howdy Dooty.  It was novel technology.  People were amazed. 

Then one day, along came a color TV.  And the difference was vast.  Now some people then, or even now, might prefer the vintage look of black and white, but for the most part, people prefer color. 

Now imagine having had a black and white TV, then a color one, then going back to a black and white.  You KNOW what you’re missing. 

I think a lot of things are that way in life.  You can’t “unsee” or “unknow” something.  And when you go backwards, what used to fit now feels tight or restrictive or somewhat missing and empty. 

For example, I had a job I loved.  I did it for 20 years and loved it for the first 18.  Then I started to grow in areas and the old job felt a bit tight and restrictive compared to what I’d started to see and experience.  Like the very last class I taught was about learning to be more assertive and not passive or aggressive.  Valuable business and life skills for sure.  But during the class on a break, I got a phone call from a lady whose child was very ill and in ICU.  She wanted some advice on how to make the best of the situation.  And what to watch for with vascular access.  Then I went back to teaching the class and it was … painful.  The old didn’t fit any more.  So eventually I had to move on. 

Last week, I went back to teach a similar type of subject and I just couldn’t get motivated to prepare or present it.  I was able to pull it off, but my heart was just not in it. 

Or maybe it’s in areas of spiritual revelation.  Or deeper relationship with God.  Receiving a healing or word of knowledge.  Tasting grace. 

Maybe it’s in being single and being concerned about being married.  But once you’re there, you can’t see yourself as single again. A part of you has grown.  Same with becoming a parent and with each subsequent child that follows.  You stretched.  You grew.  You’ve become more.  Your life will never be the same again. 

Maybe it’s going to an orphanage seeing the kids in their situations.  You might have heard about the plight of the orphan, but now you’ve SEEN it and you will never be able to unsee it.  You’re forever changed by the experience. 

It applies to almost every area of life.  Once we’ve seen and tasted and heard and experienced, we can no longer continue living like we haven’t.  It’s trying to put new wine in old wineskins.  It just doesn’t work. 

Life is set up to be a constant set of these experiences.  Adapting.  Changing.  Becoming more.  When we don’t develop like this, we shrivel and die. 

I personally think a lot of addictions are based on NOT wanting to see or taste or experience.  The feelings are overwhelming with the new changes and possible pain so some choose not to see or feel. 

Because that’s real too.  Pain.  Pain of rejection or not being good at the new. Being out of our comfort zone is scary and we want to retreat quickly to the familiar where we know what we’re doing and how to do it.  If we stay put, however, life passes us by.  And at the end of our lives, playing it safe will yield much regret. 

At this time of year, it makes me think about my friends who are watching their children graduate from high school or college.  Bittersweet feelings.  They have poured into their children’s lives for decades and now the child is doing exactly what they were raised to do.  Both parent and child have to experience the growing pains.  And as much as both might fantasize about life like it used to be, they both know that old life doesn’t fit any more.  So while they want it for comfort, they really know they don’t want the life of yesterday. 

This concept has been mulling over in my heart and spirit for a few days now.  Trying to figure out how to live in today … daily.  How to teach my children to be a new person, renewed daily.  Every day a chance to hunker down and be comfortable or to grow and learn and see and experience. 

Maybe it’s another way of saying “Faith”.  The definition is … the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Just like the path we haven’t been on … where will it take us today?

People often say, “God, guide my steps” … from the couch!  How is He to guide your steps when you aren’t stepping?  (The book of Psalms is full of words about feet and steps.  Do a Bible Study on that sometime, it’s fascinating.)  That’s like saying, “I want my life to change and I want adventure/happiness but I don’t actually want to DO anything.” 

So what about you?  Are you growing?  Is your “yesterday” life too small for the “you” of today?  If not, it might be a sign that you’ve become complacent and too comfortable.  Try something new.  Explore.  See.  Experience.  Grow.   

And if you do, you’ll find yourself in places you never dreamed.  Living the life you always knew you could. 

Yes, there’s pain along this journey I suggest.  But it’s worth it.  Oh, the colorful life is so worth it. 

May 1, 2014

Bread Crumbs

Just over 2 years ago, a series of events happened that were miraculous.  I’ll retell that story in summary version. 

Manny had been on TPN only 3 months.  All seemed fine.  He went with us to the Florida State Fair and was feeding giraffes.  He went to bed fine that night.  In the middle of the night he woke up SCREAMING in pain.  He could only tell me his “tummy” hurt which could mean anything in the front chest.  He had a new broviac (only a week) so that was the most likely culprit of the pain.  Which is a serious emergency so it got me to the hospital quickly.

Once we got there, the pain seemed to subside and he then went “non-responsive”.  He was so out of it that they did a lumbar puncture on him and he didn’t flinch.  This caught the attention of the ICU staff.   

That day, the PA for the ICU just happened to be someone who knew Manny and could vouch for his normal state of being and that the way he was acting was NOT right.  This convinced the ICU doctor to come take a look at him.

The ICU doctor just happened to think of this wild and out there possibility. He had seen it once before. He asked if Manny was having unusual stools.  He was.  So this led the doctor to do an ultrasound. 

The ultrasound didn’t show what the doctor thought it would but instead showed a very diseased gallbladder. 

This saved his life as his gallbladder had already died and ruptured. 

There is NO way that a screaming child would make someone think “gallbladder”.   In fact, just 2 months earlier, his ultrasound of his gallbladder was fine. 

So the miracle is that the proverbial bread crumbs were left to be in the right place with the right staff asking the right question to order the right test to look in the right body part.  This series of events saved his life.  I was told that this kind of thing is usually found on autopsy. 

God loves Manny.  He is in His capable hands. 

That leads me to today.  I don’t see the breadcrumbs laid out yet.  But I’m trying to have faith that I will eventually. 

September I did a speech.  Some people who were there liked it and invited me to their convention in Canada.  So this date was set up MONTHS ago.  Tickets were bought weeks ago.  Travel arrangements set weeks ago.  Bags were packed.  Clothes set out for this morning.  Alarm set for 5:30am. 

But at 2am, Manny woke up breathing really weird.  It was severe respiratory distress.  Heart rate over 200. Breathing rate 60-80. Chest was retracting.  And he was desatting.  All while on bipap and 8 liters of oxygen. 

We prayed. We did everything medically we could do at home.  We realized, he was headed to the hospital.  And I didn’t have the equipment to drive him here safely.  So I had to do something I’ve never done … call 911.  They came.  It was no biggie.  I was already packed.  Manny was scared initially but then liked being in the ambulance.

We got to the hospital and he was a bit improved by being awake but still having troubles.  They did various medicines and treatments.  He perked up.  He was doing quite well in fact.  Until he would drift to sleep then all the symptoms would come back. 

Eventually, they decided he was stable enough to go to the regular floor and not be in ICU.  Great news.  With pneumonia, he could teeter either way.  Tonight he will either do great and show great improvement with all the meds/treatments he's on or he will struggle and we will head to the ICU. 

So my issue is … God knew what date and time I was supposed to leave for Toronto.  If it had been even 3 hours later, I would have been on my way to Canada and no way to turn around and come back.  So for some reason, it became VERY clear that I was supposed to be HERE. 

Was the plane going to crash? I would have been in a car wreck on the way to the airport? No way to know.  But I can either be upset OR trust that God had a plan. 

I’m just hoping I’m paying enough attention to notice all the bread crumbs He’s leaving.