Jesus Loves the Little Children

How I Came to Sponsor a Compassion International Child

This weekend was New Life Church’s annual production of The Thorn The Thorn is this amazing play about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I am proud to say that we have seen it just about every year since it’s inception (I had tickets last year but I was in the hospital during the show!).  My two oldest daughters and I were actually in it about 15 years ago.  Most recently, I have had the pleasure and honor to take pictures during the performances both in Colorado Springs and Denver.  I look forward to it every year.

The Thorn

The Thorn

About mid-way through the show, a pastor from the church does a little pitch for Compassion International .  Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. (from their website).  They have partnered with The Thorn as a sponsor, and so on the seats are little packets of information on a child from a third world country, that needs help.  The hope is that the people that come to watch The Thorn will become sponsors for these children.

Now since we have been just about every year, we, of course, have heard the appeal from one of the pastor’s at New Life, for everyone to consider sponsoring a child.  I have never done it because it does require a monthly commitment of $38.  I was of the mind that I did not want to start sponsoring a child, then after a few months, not be able to continue to support them, leaving them high and dry.  I am a single mom, and just don’t make a lot of money.  I wasn’t sure I could keep up with that kind of commitment.  This night was different though…

This year, we bought tickets for this past Saturday night.  Upon arrival, we found our seats and noticed that there was a big ole’ video camera with large seat attached right in front of our seats.  There was going to be no way we would be able to see around this camera!  One of the ushers asked us if everything was all right and I told him that our seats were right behind the camera and we wouldn’t be able to see, so was there any way we could get different seats?   He immediately took us to the lady that was in charge of tickets and explained that our seats were right behind the camera and could she get us different seats.  She started looking for new tickets for us, and even told us that she was going to get us even better tickets!  Yea, us!!  Sure enough, the seats were great seats and we were excited to see the show.

When the time comes for the annual appeal, a young man comes to the stage to talk of his experience as a recipient of a sponsor through Compassion International.  This young man had lived in poverty in India, but was given a chance at life from the people that sponsored him.  Through that sponsorship, he was able to complete his college education and even got a job at IBM.  Now he has his own company and a staff of 6!  All because he was given the chance of a better life through someone that sponsored him.

The pastor then asked everyone in the audience to open their packet and consider sponsoring the child in the packet.  I picked up the packet that I had laid on the ground, turned it around to open it and there was a little African girl staring up at me.  I glanced over at the name of the little girl, and miraculously, her name was Issabella Bryant!!  Really?!?!?!  What are the chances?!  My last name is….Bryant!  I showed it to my daughters and they got really excited and asked if we could sponsor her.  They decided amongst themselves that they would each give $10 a month to help sponsor her.

I don’t think this was fluke.  I don’t think it was a coincidence.  I think it was a confluence of events that led up to a miraculous event.  What are the odds that our original seats would be where they were and that there would be a big camera in front of us?  What are the chances that these 4 amazing seats, that were actually more than what we paid, would be available and we’d end up there?  What are the chances that Issabella Bryant’s packet would just happen to be placed on a seat where a Bryant was going to be sitting??

No “chance”.

No odds.

Sheer miracle.

I am now the proud sponsor of a little girl named Issabella, that lives half way around the world in Africa, who happens to share my last name.

And that’s my story of how I came to sponsor a Compassion International child….

Jesus Loves the Little ChildrenJesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…

 

A Year Ago Today…

A year ago today, I woke up after just having been released from the hospital the night before.  It had been a whirlwind, crazy two weeks of ER trips, being admitted to the hospital, having surgery, being released again, going back to the ER, being re-admitted, more surgeries, etc…  I was finally home, and hopefully, everything was in working order and my life as I knew it, would resume. 

Not hardly.

I was really weak as I walked down the stairs that morning.  I just figured that since I’d had 3 surgeries and been living on Dilaudin for two weeks, that the weakness was to be expected.  I ate a little breakfast (the first in two weeks), watched a little TV, got on my laptop and caught up on some of the work I’d missed in the past two weeks.  By mid-day, I was still feeling a little week, so ate some homemade soup from a friend and headed upstairs for a much needed nap.

After a couple of hours of naptime, I went back downstairs to see what my girls were up to.  They were fixing dinner.  Mashed potatoes for me-yum!  I had a small bowl of them, then headed back to bed.  After about an hour, I started feeling REALLY BAD!  My stomach was a little distended and I wondered if I had eaten too much.  I called the doctor to ask if maybe something was wrong.  I got an on-call doctor who said he didn’t know my case so couldn’t say for sure, but if I didn’t start feeling better, I might want to go to the ER again.  I took some medication for pain and laid down.  By about 8pm (I think–I lost track of the time), I had to use the restroom, but could barely lift my head off the pillow, let alone walk to the bathroom.  I had my cell phone lying next to me and all I could do was type “Em help” and send a text message to my daughter, who was downstairs washing the dishes.  She came running up and helped me to the bathroom.  I won’t go into detail but there was an awful lot of blood involved!  I knew things were heading south pretty quickly, so I told her I needed help.  I knew that once I stood up, I would pass out because of the blood loss.  As I thought, as soon as I stood up, I passed out and Em caught me and gently laid me on the ground.  She called 911. 

I actually remember quite a lot of the events that evening for almost dying. 

I remember…

Trying to crawl into my bedroom because I thought the paramedics wouldn’t fit into the bathroom. (they couldn’t!)

Emily leaning over my mouth, listening for my breathing

Trying to calm Natalie down by telling her I’d be all right (even though panic was setting into my heart)

My bedroom full of men trying to stabilize me for transport

Passing out while being carried down the stairs

Seeing the brightest light I had ever seen (while being passed out), and thinking “Lord, I’m not ready to die!  I still have children to raise.  Please don’t take me home!”

Waking back up as they were carrying me out the front door

An Australian male voice telling me that everything was going to be OK

Being in the ambulance and having a strange man telling me they had to drill a hole in my shin!  I remember saying NO! I also remember him telling me that if they didn’t do it, I would die right in the ambulance.

The sound of the drill as they started it, and the subsequent scream that came from my mouth as they drilled the hole in my shin

The cold air as they rushed my gurney into the ER doors

The rush of doctors and nurses to start taking care of me

The pain of the nurse shoving a tube  up my nose and down my throat to evacuate my stomach

More bleeding, and hearing the nurse say “That’s an awful lot of blood”

The look on Ashley’s face as she stood next to me, quoting Bible scriptures

The nurse asking me if he could cut off my nightgown because it was impeding progress (I still think my children paid them to cut it so I would no longer be able to wear it!)

A nurse named Lorenzo poking me all over, trying to get an IV in me

Lorenzo telling me he was so sorry that he couldn’t get an IV in

Another nurse telling me they’d have to put a central line into my neck because they couldn’t find a vein anywhere else

The doctor telling me that I had to hold really still or he might puncture my jugular vein (yikes!)

Thinking that “I wish they’d close that curtain because every person that walks through that door outside my room is looking right  up my gown!”

Finally being taken down to the Critical Care Unit at something like 4:30am to wait for the surgeon to come in and take me to the operating room to find the cause of the bleeding

Having a discussion with Ashley that now was the time to call my parents and let them know that I was back in the hospital

Laying there by myself, half asleep and then feeling the cold hand of my pastor, resting on my head

I felt peace

Being taken out of my room for surgery, and telling my pastor that I didn’t think I’d be at church the next day (Somehow, I retained my sense of humor)

My mom crying as I was wheeled to the surgical unit

Talking to the anesthesiologist and telling him “we had to quit meeting like this” (this was the 3rd time he would be my anesthesiologist!)

Being wheeled into the operating room for the 4th time in two weeks, and hearing my guy saying the happy juice was coming.

Waking up in Recovery, hearing the doctors at the end of my bed, talking about “calling legal on this one”

Being told they could not find anything, but the x-rays had shown a nick on my liver, but no evidence once they went in!

I remember thinking “God healed me!  That’s why you can’t find anything now!”

A year ago today, I almost died.  I was 10 minutes from going into Eternity.  I wasn’t scared.  I just had this fear of leaving my children without me to be there to see them grown up, getting married, holding grandchildren, etc…  For me, dying was not an option.  I am so glad that I serve and believe in, a God that heals.  I believe that God healed my body sometime between the ER and the surgical unit.  I’ve often thought “Lord, why did I even have to go through it all?”  The answer?  I don’t know.  I just know that on this Earth, we will face things that the devil tries to throw in our way.  We will face unpleasant things, but we will face them with a Savior that loves us.  We all take life for granted.  I know I did.  Every morning that I wake up, and I’m alive and breathing, I just thank God for this life.  A year ago today, I was given a second chance at life…and I’m so very grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little drama for the camera...

1964…The Year of the Mustang…and Me.

The year was 1964.  Lyndon B. Johnson was President of the United States, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy just 6 weeks prior to the new year.  Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in South Africa.  America became fully involved in the Vietnam War with the stroke of a pen when Congress approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

It’s been 50 years since The Beatles stepped foot on American soil, and changed music as we knew it.

It’s been 50 years since “Mary Poppins” made her “practically perfect” debut on the movie screen, Eliza Doolittle became a lady in My Fair Lady, and James Bond saved the world one more time in Goldfinger.

It’s been 50 years since Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts showed up on grocery store shelves, a doll named G.I. Joe was manufactured by Hasbro to give Barbie a run for her money, and Diet Pepsi was introduced to a new world of dieters.

50 years ago, Bewitched twitched her nose for the first time on TV, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer made his debut as one of the first Christmas specials, and Jeopardy! started it’s run as the “thinking man’s game”.

50 years ago, Rob Lowe, Sandra Bullock, Chef Bobby Flay and Sarah Palin were all born.

And 50 years ago, the first Mustang rolled off the Ford assembly line in Dearborn, MI.

Last night, in the still of the evening, a fire in the fireplace, my children all snug in their beds, there are so many thoughts running through my head.  You see, yesterday I turned 50.  Fifty!  The big 5-0.  Half a century!  All of these things, and many more, I have lived through.  I’ve seen music go from LP’s to 8-tracks to cassettes to CD’s and now to digital files.  I’ve seen TV’s go from weighing 50+ lbs to flat screens that weight less than 20 lbs.    I’ve seen computers go from the size of a building to one that fits in my pocket!  It’s pretty amazing what I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Your 50th birthday is a good time to reflect on your life.  You see, I’ve been anticipating….and dreading this day for a year now.  30 years ago, I had big dreams for my life.  I dreamed of a happy life, being a happy wife with a happy husband and happy children.  I dreamed of a beautiful home, yearly vacations to some exotic locations and giving my children the best I could give them.  Somewhere along the line, my dream shattered.  I didn’t have the happy marriage I dreamed of.  I didn’t have a happy husband, and I certainly was not a happy wife.  My children were sullen and withdrawn.  This was not the life I dreamed about!

Turning 50 made me look back at my life, and there were so many things I was not proud of….but there are so many more things I have to BE proud of.

I have 3 beautiful, awesome, Godly daughters.
They have not gone to the left or the right, but have stayed on course.
They have not felt the need to dabble with sex, drugs, alcohol, tattoos, weird piercings or anything else of this manner.
My children walk with God and there is nothing more that I could ever dream of for my children.

If NOTHING else, I could be wholly thankful for that!

I have so many wonderful friends–some old, some new, and some that have gone on to be with the Lord.
I am blessed with friends that love me unconditionally, and stand and support me when needed.

I have a wonderful job—I have 3 wonderful jobs!  When so many are out of work, I am blessed with work!  God has given me talents that I am only now discovering and who knows if I would have discovered them if I had not been pushed to discover them?

I have a beautiful home that I am proud to say I have been able to make mortgage payments on…by myself…. for the past 6 years! 

I am alive.
The other day, as I felt the depression of this birthday coming upon me, my wise daughters reminded me that I almost didn’t reach this milestone.  That my life was almost taken away last March.  They reminded me that I should be rejoicing that I get to celebrate this birthday.

God has given me 50 years….He could have taken me home on that evening in March when I was 10 minutes from death.  He must have so much more for me to do.

  This year, I will choose to live a life more worthy of Him.

I will choose to seek God and His will for this next chapter of my life.

I will ask the Lord for new dreams….dreams that He can make come true.

And I will choose to be thankful that I am now 50 years old….

If I Were Miley Cyrus’ Parent…

Unless you live in another universe, or a hole somewhere, I’m sure you’ve heard of the spectacle that Miley Cyrus recently made of herself on the VMA’s.  I did not witness the live performance, but when all the hubbub about it started, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  So, I did what every other human did that didn’t see it—I googled it!   My eyes will never be the same!  After watching just part of it, I felt like I had been dipped in a vat of filth!  I’ve never known what pornography looked like and I’ve never attended a strip club, but now I feel like I’ve seen both!  What was she thinking?!??!!? 

My thoughts immediately went to “What would I do, what would I feel if that was my daughter up there on stage?”  Many answers came swiftly, the first one being—Get up on that stage, grab her by the little knob on her head, drag her home and throw her in the basement! was my  first thought.   My second thought was I would be so embarrassed if that was my child…. 

How sad.  I never thought there would be anything my kids could do that would embarrass me to that level, but I’m pretty sure that would do it!  I wondered how her parents are going to deal with it.

I used to admire Billy Ray.  I would see him in interviews talking about his faith, and how he was raising his daughter to not let all the success go to her head.  Where did he go so terribly wrong?  I found the answer in an interview I saw of him recently.  In the interview he stated something along the lines of he wanted to be best friends with his kids. 

Come on, folks….I understand wanting to have a friendship with your kids.  I understand the need to be able to talk to your kids and have fun with them.  What I don’t understand is wanting to be best friends with your kids over being their parent!  It’s all good and fun to be able to share things with your kids—I know, I have 3 daughters and we have a great relationship, but one thing they know is that I can switch from friend to mother in the blink of an eye!

There’s a time and a place to be a friend to your child.  That time and place is not all the time.  Our children need our guidance, even when they are 20 years old!   Our kids also sometimes need our guidance when they are grown and married!  I still find myself seeking my mom for guidance about things and I’m almost 50 years old!! 

So, what would I do if Miley Cyrus was MY child?!?! 

1)  Talk to her.  Another recent interview with Billy Ray revealed that he hadn’t spoken to her in a while.  Well, it’s time to man up, put your big boy pants on and have a talk with your daughter, Billy Ray!   Questions need to be raised–What were you thinking?!   Why did you feel the need to perform like that?  What do you need that you obviously aren’t getting?!  Maybe she just needs her daddy to be her daddy….

2)  Pray for her.  I hope her parents are already doing that, but if they aren’t, I’d start now—heck I would have started the other night!   I would ask the Lord to send people down her path that would keep her from the road of destruction she’s on.  I would pray for friends that would be a friend to her and tell her what an idiotic thing it was that she did–a friend that would be REAL with her and not just be a “yes” friend.  I would pray that she would realize that what she did was not only distasteful but not the path she wants to be on.  I would pray that she sits down and takes a long, hard look at where her life is going.

3)  I would be her parent.  I would quit being her friend for the moment and be her parent.  God gave us a responsibility to raise our children.  We don’t just let them go because they are now over 18!   I would sit her little behind down and have a serious talk about the implications of what she’s doing.  I would tell her I love her and want what’s best for her and this ain’t it!  I would remind her that she also has siblings that look up to her and what are her actions telling them?  I would remind her that although I love her very much, I will not support that kind of lifestyle or actions.  Pure and simple.

Sometimes when our kids graduate from high school, go to college, get jobs, whatever, we forget that they are still our children and we are still their parents.  I know a lot of people that think that since they are now adults, that they no longer need our guidance.  That is so not true!  How many times do we see kids that go off to college or move away, and their lives go down the drain?!?!  A lot of it is because their parents dropped them off at college and quit parenting!   You don’t stop being a parent just because your child is now an adult. 

I feel sorry for the Cyrus family, but I hope it’s a wake up call for them….

 

Things I Wish My Grown Up Self Had Told Me About High School…

Today, my youngest daughter starts high school. 

High school! 

When did my baby….my  last born…my youngest child get this old?!?!?

Natalie as BelleNatalie as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, about age 6 or 7…

I can’t believe she is starting high school today.  It was just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital,  totally healed from the hole in her heart and ready to go home.  It was just yesterday that she took her first step and spoke her first word (it was “Ashley” by the way…).  Where has the time gone?!?!

So, today she starts high school.  I don’t remember my first day of high school.  It was different for me because I was just walking across a sidewalk to go from junior high to high school.  I lived in a small town and we were all going from 8th grade to 9th grade together.  For me, it was just another year at school.  For her, it will be different.  She is going to a school where there will be 1,499 kids she doesn’t know—strike that out—1,498 kids she won’t know (her cousin will be a Junior at the same high school).  She is an excited bundle of nerves.  She asks me if I think she will make friends.  She asks me if I think people will like her.  So many questions, and so many fears.  What can I tell her as her mom that would help her through this time in her life?!?  Probably nothing.  I wouldn’t have listened to my mother either!  I will, however, share what I wish my grown up self could have told me about high school.

1)  Everyone else is just as scared and insecure as you are.  I can guarantee there isn’t one person starting high school today that doesn’t share the same fears and insecurities!  Each one is worried that no one will like them.  Each one is worried that they won’t make friends.  Just knowing that others are feeling the same way, should make you feel a little better.

2)   Twenty years from now, the nerd boys will be the most successful and best looking; the most popular girls will be overweight; the mean girls will probably still be mean and the most popular, good looking guys will be bald and out of work!!  Life is not about high school.  High school is 4 years out of your life.  It is not the rest of your life!

3)   Be nice.  Being nice goes a long way in life.  Be nice to everyone, not just the people you want to impress.  There will be a lot of kids that no one is nice to, but if you are nice to them, maybe others will follow suite.   Say hi to people.  If someone drops something, help them.

4)  Be yourself.  Who is “yourself”?  Are you a dork?  Then be a dork!  Are you smart?  Then be smart!  Be true to you.  If you try to be someone you aren’t, then you’ll just attract people that aren’t themselves, and you don’t want that.  You want your friends to be real too.  Trust me on this!

5)  Don’t worry about boys!  Don’t worry if that boy you have a crush on doesn’t return the feelings.  Besides, you can’t date until you’re at least 16 anyway, so why worry about it?!?!?

6)  SMILE!  Walk through the halls with a smile on your face.  Smiling is contagious!   And you never know…you may smile at someone that just needs someone to smile at them!  It might make someone’s day.

7)  Have FUN!!  Go to football games, go to dances, make the most out of your high school years!  Make the friends you will have for the rest of your life.

8)  Show the love of God.  I know that you love God, and that the love of God resides inside you.   Show the love of God through your actions.  Going back to number 2, show kindness and love to others.  You don’t need to preach about God…just show His love and people will notice there is something different about you.

Finally, always remember that God and your momma love you!  We’ve got your back.  If you have a bad day, or someone hurts your feelings, or your heart gets broken, God and I are both here for you and love you.  There will be days you don’t feel it, but know that it’s true.

These are the things I wish my grown up self had been able to tell me when I started high school.   Maybe she will read them and take them to heart, maybe she won’t, but even if she doesn’t, I know she will be all right.  Have a wonderful first day of high school, Nat….

Nat's first day of high schoolNatalie, age 14 1/2 on her first day of high school…

Black Forest Fire

Did I Ever Tell You You’re My Hero?

As many of you know by now, Colorado Springs has been hit with another devastating fire.   A year ago, almost to the day, a wildfire came roaring through a couple of the neighborhoods here in Colorado Springs, burning down 364 homes.  The Waldo Canyon Fire was the most devastating fire of Colorado ever.  I wrote about it here.   Well, on Tuesday, June 11th, just two weeks shy of the Waldo Canyon Fire, another fire started in the Northeast part of Colorado Springs.  The Black Forest Fire would take the title of most devastating fire in Colorado ever, after it destroyed over 500 homes and over 14,000 acres of Ponderosa pine trees. Once again, our family was affected by this fire, but this time it was my daughters’ cousin’s home that was destroyed.   My heart is breaking for them as they begin the process of rebuilding the home that they built themselves a few years ago.

The first day of the Black Forest Fire.  The plume of smoke from my front yard

The first day of the Black Forest Fire. The plume of smoke from my front yard

In the midst of all the loss, the anger and the heartbreak, are some men and women that really don’t get the credit that they deserve.  Firefighters came from all over the United States to help contain this fire (and all the other fires happening in our state as I write this!).   These men and women leave their homes, their families and their lives to help serve and protect people that most of them will never even meet.  They have big hearts and it is shown in what they do. 

My daughter babysits for a fireman’s family.  I see how hard it is on the little ones to see Daddy leave for weeks at a time.  I see how hard it is for mommy to take care of two little ones while her husband is out saving the world.  BUT  neither one of them complains.  He loves his job and she is very proud of him.(now the kiddos do cry when Daddy leaves, but that’s justified!)  Every day they sacrifice for people that will never know all that they do.

His wife was telling me one day that sometimes they are out fighting fires like this one for days or weeks, without benefit of showers or doing laundry!  They work for 12-16 hours a day, and then sleep in tents on the ground at night.  Can you imagine?!  I can certainly imagine, and I know that is not what I call living! 

Firefighter's living quartersLiving quarters for the firefighters…

Here in Colorado Springs, during the Waldo Canyon Fire and now the Black Forest Fire, some of the citizens of Colorado Springs have gathered near the command center with signs, goodies and cheering to welcome these brave men and women when they get off of their shifts fighting the fires.  These guys would come out of the field after working for 12-16 hours, and walk around the crowds, posing for pictures and thanking US for being there!  Amazing!   While at the final shift change during the BFF, I was speaking with one of the firemen that was here from Minnesota.  He told us that they had never seen the kind of support from people that they had gotten in Colorado Springs, even though he’s fought fires all over the nation.  Really!??!   That made me sad….and angry.  Sad that these men and women give so much, and receive so little appreciation.  It makes me angry that as a society we are so wrapped up in our own lives that we can’t stop to thank those that make our lives better, and in some instances, save our homes and our possessions.  I know how easy it is to do that.  Since my life was saved by some firemen when I had my gallbladder incident, I’ve been meaning to take some homemade brownies or cookies or something to the firemen that saved my life, but I haven’t made time to do it.  I am ashamed of myself and this was a stark reminder that we need to appreciate those public servants that are there for us in time of need. 

There is something very wrong in this world when we celebrate athletes that beat their girlfriends and cheat on their wives.  Or applaud celebrities that get caught shoplifting or get arrested for possession of cocaine.  When we support these people by attending their concerts, their sporting events and by watching their movies, are we telling them that they are our heroes?!  When did we get so…so…misguided?!   There used to be a time when we revered and looked up to firemen and police officers.  A time when little boys dreamed of growing up to be firefighters and police officers.  Have we become so politically correct now that little boys can no longer dream it because God forbid they pretend they’re carrying a gun or an ax?!?!    I would much rather have a son of mine dream of being a firefighter rather than a basketball player.   Where have our values gone?!

So.  To all of you firefighters across this great country of ours, and particularly to those who helped save our own Black Forest, I say….”Have I ever told you you’re my heroes?”  Well, if I haven’t, I apologize and today I say:

YOU ARE MY HEROES!

Firefighters from the Black Forest Fire

Firefighters from the Black Forest Fire

I AM One in a Million….

You know all those things doctors have to warn you about before you have a medical procedure—all the things that could go wrong or happen, but only go wrong in about one in every million time?  Well, yep…I was one of those “one in a million”.

My journey into “specialness” started on the night of March 17th.  It was a normal Sunday like every other…we went to church, out to breakfast with my parents and returned home for an afternoon/evening of resting and watching a little “Once Upon a Time”.  After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I settled into my comfy bed for a little reading before going to sleep.  As soon as I laid down, I felt some tightness in my upper abdomen.  The more I laid there, the worse it got.  I figured I just had some bad heartburn (the Reuben for dinner probably didn’t help…) so got up and took some Tums.  The Tums did not help.  The pain got worse and worse, and it did not matter what position I got into, the pain was horrible.  When I started sweating and having problems breathing, I knew something was not right.  I called my sister-in-law, who is a nurse, and asked her what I should do.  She told me that I knew my body and if something didn’t feel right I should probably go to the ER.  My oldest and youngest daughters were already in bed, so I got my middle daughter and told her she would need to take me to the ER.

We arrived at the ER, and since I was having “chest” pains, they took me back immediately.  After about 5 hours undergoing EKG’s, ultrasounds and x-rays, it was determined that my gallbladder would need to come out.  At about 4am, they gave me a prescription for the pain and a phone number for a surgeon with instructions to call him later on and schedule the surgery.  We went home and went to bed.  When I woke up, I was really nauseated and started vomiting.  I vomited most of the day and evening.  Tuesday morning, I woke up with a horrible headache and more vomiting.  I called my mom to see if she could take me to my chiropractor’s office.  I thought I was vomiting because I had a migraine and if I get an adjustment, I usually feel better. The chiropractor took one look at me and said I needed to go to the ER immediately.  He said I was dehydrated very badly.  So, we headed to the ER!

Once they got me into the ER, a surgeon came back and said they were going to admit me to have the gallbladder surgery the next day.  I was admitted and put on IV’s and painkillers.  The next day, my gallbladder came out and they sent me home for my recovery.  All was well for the first couple of days.  I was sore and couldn’t eat much, but that was pretty normal.  By Saturday, I could eat a little more than just broth and jello, so ate some delicious homemade chicken  soup that one of my friends had brought over for us.  The next day, I started to feel some pain again. …the very exact pain I’d had with the gallbladder!  I called the surgeon Sunday night to see if it was normal and of course, since it was the on-call doctor, he couldn’t tell me much because he didn’t know the specifics of my case—here’s the specifics:  I had my gallbladder out and now I’m experiencing the same exact pain–is that normal?!?!  All he could tell me was to call my surgeon’s office the next morning and see him.  Thanks, for your expertise, doc!

The next morning I woke up vomiting once again, and when I saw undigested carrots in the mess, I knew something wasn’t right.  I called my surgeon and my mom, and she came to whisk me off to the doctor’s office.  When we walked in, I told the receptionist that I needed to get to a room asap because I had been vomiting and figured it wouldn’t stop just because I was there.  She told me to have a seat in the waiting area.  I went and sat down, and thankfully, I had the wherewithal to bring a grocery sack along with me, because I once again started to vomit.  That got the receptionist moving!  (I tried to warn her!)  She came rushing out to take me back to a room….  The surgeon came in and said it sounded like I had a gallstone that had escaped and was now stuck in a bile duct.  He asked me if I wanted the name of another surgeon that does the procedures to remove gallstones so I could call him and make an appointment, OR did I want him to admit me to the hospital through the ER so I could have the procedure asap.  Now….I want this over now!!

Once again, we headed over to the ER, where I was assured they were ready for me…wrong!  I had to wait with everyone else, and after they took 3 other people ahead of me, I finally went up to the front desk and told the lady that my doctor had called ahead and said they would be ready for me.   They finally took me back, but only to triage, where they proceeded to sit me in a chair to wait for someone to take my blood.  When a nurse finally noticed that I looked like I was going to pass out, someone finally came to take my blood and escort me back to a room.  After a few more hours, I was finally admitted to the hospital.  Another surgeon came in and said they would do the procedure the next day to remove the stone.

Tuesday morning arrived and I waited most of the day for the procedure.  They finally came and got me and took me down to the operating room.  I said hello to the anesthesiologist, he said he was giving me some good juice and the next thing I know, they are waking me up in the recovery room!  The surgeon came over and said that yes, there was a gallstone, but it was now impacted into the tissue and the more he tried to remove it, the more inflamed the tissue became so they had to quit and would need to try again on Thursday.  What?!?!!

I spent the rest of Tuesday, all day Wednesday and most of the morning on Thursday just waiting in the hospital.  Thursday came and they took me down once more.  I got more happy juice and awakened to find that they had been successful in removing the stone, so I could go home that evening!  Yippee!

I went home Thursday night, and was so glad to be home and have this all behind me.  I woke up Friday morning, but still felt pretty weak.  I took it easy all day, just relaxing and enjoying time with my daughters (who happened to be on Spring Break–awesome Spring Break, right?!!?).  About 9pm, I started getting the familiar pain again!  What the heck?!!?  My gallbladder was gone, the stone had been removed…why was I in so much pain?!?!  As the minutes went on, the pain got worse and worse.  I called the surgeon’s office and was once again told that since they didn’t know my case, they couldn’t really tell me anything.  One of the surgeon’s finally said, that if it got worse after a couple more hours, to go ahead and return to the ER.  I went and laid down, but now my stomach was starting to distend and the pain was worse.  I took a Vicodin, hoping it would make me throw up(I’m allergic to them so they always make me throw up) and maybe I’d get some relief.   As I was laying there, I needed to use the restroom.  I knew I was too weak to make it to the bathroom on my own, so I texted my 18 year old daughter, who was downstairs doing the dishes…“Em come” was all I could text.  I heard her drop a pan and come running up.  She helped me to the bathroom, and stepped outside the door.  The toilet was filled with blood and I became lightheaded.  I knew things were going downhill pretty quickly now, and I also knew that I was not getting out of the bathroom on my own.  I told Em she would have to come help me.  As soon as I stood up, everything went black and I passed out.  Luckily, Em caught me and gently laid me on the ground.  I heard her yell for my youngest daughter to bring her the phone because she needed to call 911.  When she got up to go into the other room, I got up on my hands and knees and started crawling through the bathroom.  I knew the paramedics wouldn’t be able to all get into the bathroom, so thought I’d help them a little.  I was only able to crawl about a foot before I fell back on the floor.  By this time, I could hear my youngest daughter screaming and crying, so I tried to focus on getting her settled down.  I could hear Em on the phone with the 911 operator, and God bless her…she was so cool and calm the whole time.

The paramedics got there and tried to get me stabilized to transport me to the hospital.  They got as much done as they could and then loaded me into the ambulance.  My oldest daughter had arrived home just as they were loading me into the ambulance.  The paramedics told my other two daughters that they needed to stay home.  While en route to the hospital, the paramedic told me they couldn’t get an IV in me so they would need to drill a hole in the top of my tibia bone.  I told him no.  He took my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said “Sweetie, if we don’t do this right now, you WILL die right now.”   He no sooner finished the sentence when I heard the whirring of the drill and felt the most intense, awful pain of my life!  I screamed bloody murder it was SO painful!

We (Ashley and I) arrived at the hospital and the doctors and nurses were rushing around trying to get me stabilized.  They needed to make sure there was no blood in my stomach and needed to evacuate  my stomach contents, so a tube was inserted into my nasal cavity.  This would be the second most painful thing I had done. They needed to get another IV line in my arm but could not find a vein because I had lost so much blood.  While they were doing their stuff, I lost even more blood.   They called in their best guy for finding veins for IV’s and he tried every way possible to get an IV in my arm, but to no avail.  The doctor finally came in and told me they’d need to put in a central line, which means they would be guided by ultrasound to put the IV into my neck/jugular vein!  Eeeck!  Dominic, the guy trying to find a regular vein, kept trying to get a line in, right up until they draped my neck with a sterile sheet and started the ultrasound.  The doctor told him to step back, and the poor guy kept telling me how sorry he was that he couldn’t find a vein!  Thank you, Dominic, for trying so hard!  They finally got the central line and started pushing fluids into my body.  I was sent for x-rays, and CAT scans.  They tried for over 5 hours to get me stabilized enough to send me to the critical care unit.  Finally, around 4:30am, I was stabilized enough to go to the critical care unit.  The doctor had told me that had my daughter not called 911 when she did, I would have died on the bathroom floor!  Pretty scary, huh?!?

Once in the critical care unit, we had to wait for a surgeon to come in so he could take me into the operating room and try to determine where the bleeding was coming from.  Ashley finally called my parents and they came in along with our pastor.  My pastor came into the room and prayed for me.  I felt at peace.  At 6am, they came in and wheeled me down to surgery.  Once again, I got some happy juice and next thing I know, I’m in recovery.    The surgeon said he saw some clotting around my liver so it was possible that when they got the stone, they could have nicked the liver.  However, the CAT scans didn’t show any damage to my liver, so they weren’t really sure what caused the bleeding.  He said they had done all that they could at that hospital, so they would be transferring me to their Main hospital where they could do some more tests.

So, I was loaded into another ambulance, and transferred to the other hospital.  I was once again taken to the critical care unit.  They took me for more CAT scans.  Later in the day, they took me to the Interventional Radiology department where they would put a catheter into my groan and shoot dyes into my vascular system to look for blood leakage.  Once again, they could not find where the bleeding had come from or why it stopped on it’s own!   I was returned to CC unit until Sunday afternoon, when they moved me to the cardiac floor (the cardiac floor because the nurses are used to recovering people that have had an IR procedure done).  I remained in the hospital until Tuesday afternoon, when the doctors could not find anything wrong and I had been stable now for 3 days.  My blood levels had returned to normal, my heart rhythm was normal and I had had two blood transfusions to replace the blood I had lost.  There was nothing more they could do for me because for all intents and purposes, I was totally healthy!

I have been a healthy person all my life.  The only times I had been in the hospital was to have my tonsils removed as a child, and to have my 3 daughters.  I never go to the doctor because I’ve never been sick enough to require one.  At most I might get one cold per year.  Why a perfectly healthy woman can all of a sudden have gallbladder problems and then have everything that could go wrong, go wrong, is beyond me.  I was the one in a million that the doctors have to warn patients about.  I left the hospital with quite a few doctors and nurses scratching their heads because they had no answers.

My daughters were my heroes.  Through the whole 3 weeks, they stepped up and took control.  They cleaned, they cooked, they prayed for me and for each other, they took care of me, they took care of each other.  I am so proud of my daughters.  I am a blessed woman indeed.

I don’t know what caused the initial bleeding, but I know what stopped it.  God stopped it.  I believe in healing.  My daughters believe in healing.  My friends and family believe in healing.  I believe with all my heart that God healed me.  What an awesome God I serve that He saved my life.  He must have something awesome planned for my life!  I can’t wait to see what it is!

If Money Were No Problem…

 

Peter Pan and my fam!

If only I could work at Disney World…

A former high school classmate of mine has a great blog for grandparents (yes, I’m old enough that I could be a grandparent!) called Grandma’s Briefs , and the other day she wrote a post about the 5 job she would take even if they didn’t pay well.  Her post really got me to thinking—–what top 5 jobs would I take if money weren’t an issue?!?  Come to find out, she and I aren’t too far apart on jobs we’d work!

So, without further adieu, here are the Top 5 Jobs I would take, even if they didn’t pay much:

1)  Photography.  Yes, I admit, I already have this job, and it doesn’t pay that great (not when you count all the hours I spend editing,  learning new techniques, making appointments and marketing…..then add the cost of all the camera equipment, computers, software, lights, etc… No, the pay is not that great!)  I wish I could quit my day job (even as much as I love it) and just shoot pictures!    I would love to travel all over the world and take pictures.  So, yes, I’m cheating a bit….I already do this job.  I would love to work for National Geographic, or Conde Nast, or I would love to be the official White House photographer (just not during this term, though,thank you very much…)

2) Work for Disney.  Once again, I admit that I am a Disney Travel Agent, but I don’t really work for Disney.  I would love to work in one of their creative departments or be a photographer for Disney.  Disney does bring so much joy to everyone and it would be fun to be a part of that joy.      Can you imagine being that person that makes those Disney characters to life?  The ones that create a character–give them a hairstyle, eye color, clothing and personality?  What a job that would be!  Can you imagine how Ollie Johnston felt when he saw those characters come to life?  (He was the one that originally created the drawings of Cinderella, Snow White and few other Disney greats!)  Alas, I cannot draw even the most simple stick person, so while I would love to work in Disney’s creative department, they would not want me….even if I worked for free!

3)  A genealogist.  I love finding out about my family’s history!  NBC used to have a TV show called “Who Do You Think You Are?”  I loved that show!  It featured celebrities that found out their ancestry through ancestry.com .  It’s so interesting to me to find out what your heritage is and where you came from.  My mom is big into the whole ancestry thing.  She spends hours combing through our family tree, trying to find new leaves and branches.  I would love to help people find out where and who they come from.  My mom recently gave me some old pictures, dated way back to 1876–1876!  As I was looking through the images, I noticed that in one of the pictures of my great-great grandfather, he had a HUGE platform shoe on!  Who knew platforms were popular in 1876?!  Apparently he was wearing it because one of his legs was a lot shorter than the other.  My mom said that he was a school teacher and when the kids acted up, they would have to go up to the front of the classroom and sit on the shoe!  You just can’t make this stuff up!  This is history, and it’s my history… Maybe that’s why I have always gravitated to flats, and always hated platform shoes!  Lol…

4)  A Book Reviewer.  I adore reading!  If reading burned calories, I’d be one skinny broad!  I have always been a voracious reader.  When I was a kid, I visited the school library once a week.  Whether it was rolling across the prairie in a covered wagon with Laura Ingalls Wilder, or climbing the alps with Heidi, I loved reading and couldn’t get enough of it.  I don’t have as much time to read now as I used to, but with the advent of Nook and Kindle apps, I can access books when I’m sitting around waiting for an appointment, or just have a few minutes here or there.  As much as I love the Nook and Kindle though, there is still nothing better than holding a real book in your hands.  I love the smell of books, and I love the little whoosh sound the pages make when you turn them.  Yes, I know you can make your kindle “whoosh” but it’s just not the same!   I am a speed reader, and can read 1800 words per minute with 97% comprehension, so I can burn through a book like nobody’s business!

5)  Movie Reviewer.  I am a movie fanatic!  I worked in a movie theater for 7 years (from the age of 14-21).  I saw every movie that was released during that time(I actually watched Stars Wars a total of 112 times at the movie theater!  I think I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark about the same amount–LOVE those movies!).   Although I’m not a big fan of sci-fi (unless it’s the original Star Wars movies) or futuristic genres, I love most of the others and would love to be able to just sit back, relax, eat my popcorn and enjoy movie after movie after movie.   I’m also very honest, so feel I could give an honest critique…perhaps it would even be too honest!   Think about…being able to tell people you watch movies for a living….even if you really couldn’t make a living out of doing it.  (Come to think of it, I do believe Roger Ebert makes a living out of it!)

So, what about you?  What jobs would you do even if they didn’t pay well?
Fireworks

My New Year’s List…

Now that New Year’s Eve is over and done with, it’s time to start planning for the new year.   I don’t ever make “resolutions” because I inevitably fail when I do.  The word “resolution” means a formal expression of opinion or intention made.  I can’t deal with that kind of pressure…lol.  What I do like to do is make a list of things I’m going to try to accomplish.  Maybe that’s kinda wimpy, but, hey, it’s what works best for me. 

Last night, before I went to bed I wrote a Facebook post and one of the people on my Friends list decided to nit-pick me on it.  Then, this morning…another nit-pick on it from the same person.  My post wasn’t a big deal.  It wasn’t anything earth shattering and it definitely wasn’t a life-changer…just a simple observation about my life.  Then this 20-something girl goes on to tell me that I had a problem when people disagree with me….seriously?!?!  Here she had gone on for 4 separate comments, disagreeing with me!   Who does like having people disagree with them?  I don’t know too many people that do, including this girl.   I’ve never removed someone from my friend’s list because they disagreed with me.  Even through the election cycle last year, I never removed a single soul.  Not the people who kept putting up Vote for Obama posts and not the people that disagreed with me about gay marriage, gun control or God.  But for some reason, this post was a defining moment for me.   This made me decide what would be the first thing on my list to do this year—remove people from my “Friends” list that weren’t life-giving for me.  So, first thing this morning, I did just that!  I cleaned out my Friends list.

If you know me, you know that I love a good challenge.  I love a good spar now and again.  What I don’t like is when those spars or challenges become heated.   I love a good political debate, but it usually spins rapidly out of control if you are debating with someone on the other side.  I don’t like that.  I like to be able to speak with someone without it getting heated and out of control.  And no, I don’t like when people disagree with me, but it’s not because I am selfish per se, it’s just because I believe so strongly in what I believe.  I have friends that I can have a debate with and keep it under control.  We might not agree on anything, but I know we can have a civil discussion about it and not have it turn into a big thing

This leads me to the second thing on my list:  Become a life-giving person.

I want to be a life-giving person.  I want my words and my actions to reflect God’s love.  I want to be a person that helps others, not tear them down. I want my words to be a healing salve to someone that is down-trodden, broken-hearted or in despair.  I want the things I write down to be inspiring and challenging, but not in a negative way.  I want people to see Jesus in me. 

Will I fail at it at times?  Yep.  Will I always be able to hold my tongue?  Nope.  I can at least try, though, can’t I?   At least it will be on my list to work on.  

Yes, there will be other things on my list: 

Read through my Bible again this year

Get my home better organized

Go through boxes in my unfinished basement and get rid of some junk!

Learn some new things with my photography

Learn some new computer programs

Make some new recipes

Work hard on making my Disney business a success

Lose some more weight

Spend more time with daughters

And the list goes on and on…It may take me all year long to accomplish my goals.  And I might not even accomplish everything!   I will try and I will succeed in some, and fail in others.  But for now, I can feel a sense of accomplishment and like a burden has been lifted because I can cross the first thing off my list….

How about you?  What are your resolutions or goals for 2013?

 

New year's eve 12

Farewell to 2012

It’s December 31st.  The last day of the year.  My most dreaded day of the year, except for perhaps my upcoming birthday! 

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve.  I’ve never enjoyed realizing that another year of my life is over and done with, never to be lived again.  Even though I know every day is another day lost, December 31st carries with it such finality.  I will have many more Mondays, or Thursday or Sundays.  I will also have many more Januarys, Aprils  and Decembers.  What I won’t ever have again is a 2012. 

As I look back over 2012, it was a good year for me and my daughters.  We celebrated many milestones in the life of my middle daughter this year.  She got her drivers license, graduated from high school, got her braces off after wearing them for 5 years (!) and she started college!   

We also got to go to Disney World for a week and spent a week in Coronado/San Diego, California.  For people who very rarely go on vacation, it was a wonderful year!

It was also a year of many miracles for us.  Since my ex lost his job over a year and a half ago, I have had to carry the financial burden of raising kids on my own, but I really wasn’t on my own…..God had my back!  Every month, when it was time to pay bills, the money was just there.  I don’t know how, I don’t know where it always came from, but it was THERE!  I do know why, though.  Because God’s Word promises that He will supply all my needs.  God’s Word says that He will take care of me, and He did.  What a wonderful witness for my children to see that God keeps His word even in a world where so many don’t.

It was also a year of many disappointments.  Disappointments in the direction my country is going.  Disappointment that so many people have been deceived and now we will all pay the price.  Disappointment that we can no longer believe anything the press tells us.  Disappointed that our freedoms and liberties are systematically being taken away while so many sit back and watch it happen.  I fear for the future of our great country.  I at least have faith in God, and I know that no matter what happens, God has my back.

I just read my blog post from last new year’s eve, and I shared that I didn’t know what 2012 would hold, but I knew it would hold some scary stuff.  I also wrote that there would be nothing I would go through that God wouldn’t be there for me.  It was so true!  I never experienced the scary stuff I was thinking would happen, and the things I went through, God was there with me every step of the way, just as I predicted.   That shows you that our fears are so unfounded, but God is always faithful!

Just like last year, I do not know what the year 2013 will hold for me.  The only thing I DO know is that God will be with me, and no matter what happens, He will have my back!   I still hate this time of year, but tomorrow is a new day and 2013 is another year.   I believe that 2013 will be a great year for me.  I believe that my businesses will flourish.  I believe that my children will continue to grow in the Lord, and their lives will be happy.  I believe that 2013 will be a good year for us, and I hope it’s a good year for you and yours as well!

 

Happy New Year!