Post Hurricane Harvey Status: In the chaos, do you have calm?

Corrie Ten Boom comes to my mind. She endured the unimaginable at the hands of Nazis. I do not know if I would have had her faith. Yet, she did NOT lose faith. She relied on God to provide what she needed, including keeping the only Bible hidden during strip searches!
Harvey was an unbelievable rain event for the greater Houston area – and more. It may seem that after five days of mostly non-stop rain, that the storm is gone. But if you live in an area hit hard by floods, your neighborhood looks like a war zone; a third world country. If your home, business, and property were spared, do you experience “survivor’s guilt”? Soon those who came to help will leave. Some will return to their homes. Others will move on to the aftermath of Irma. In Houston, the restoration will be far from over. Some areas still have flood waters in houses and businesses. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will be seen in the eyes of those who have lost so much of what daily life was to them. Many wonder “where is God in all of this?” My response, “just look around at the communities coming together, churches organizing work teams and supply shipments.” There were so many volunteers at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, that they lined the street in front of it! I saw photos of donations spilling out of boxes, neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. Many people were watching out for the safety of others and properties. Celebrities have been raising money and sending supplies. No one is checking political opinions or religious beliefs. It’s been people helping people. Simple? Yes, but sometimes difficult in these times.
Life is often like a jigsaw puzzle, but we don’t have a clue what the picture looks like until it’s almost finished. God gives us only the pieces we need for today’s portion of the puzzle. It may or may not be something recognizable. Those who know me know that I am quite a puzzling aficionada. I love to assemble jigsaws even when I do not have the final picture for clues to help. However, I will admit, when it comes to life, I want to know what the bigger picture is! I believe that in our humanness, we cannot process life’s big picture all at once. It reminds me of hiking Half Dome in Yosemite. I couldn’t do it in one step. It is miles and miles of trail that weave through the park higher and higher. I trained strenuously for three months. It takes 6-7 hours to reach the summit. Many of you remember how that worked out for me, or didn’t! (See hiking blog beginning with post on 8/25/15). It has been two years since I almost died and had to be life-flighted by helicopter to a trauma center. I am glad I did not have that piece of the day’s puzzle! God redeemed my experience in so many ways. Throughout my healing process, I had peace and calm given by God. I didn’t know if or when I would drive again or have semi-normal vision. My daughter told me that she was amazed at how calm I was about all of it. I can assure you that was divine not Linda! Some of my family and friends have experienced PTSD from living through my story. Life can be traumatizing! BUT:
God is in the healing business, redeeming business, restoring business. We need to walk through the storm’s aftermath with confidence in Abba, God the Father. This is our temporary home. Material possessions are fleeting. Turning to God will bring the calm and peace amidst chaos. Which will you choose?                                                                     LG

Psalm 3: 3-5
But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

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The Acts of Paul

Glory Hole enlarged dryIf you’re like me, you are tired. Tired of world issues, violence, hatred, extreme reactions. Feeling battered and battled; a dried and cracked vessel.

How did Paul keep moving forward under his difficult circumstances? Paul endured more than I can imagine. He CHOSE to go back to Jerusalem even though he knew it would me beatings and imprisonment, or worse. (Acts 21:10-15)
I wonder: did Paul ever wake up and think “I’m tired. I’ll just stay in bed today.” Or “Hey guys, I’m just gonna soak in the tub today. Take the day off.” Somehow, I don’t think he did. He relied on God completely. He counted his loss as gain. He was repeatedly beaten to break his will; imprisoned to prove a point. He didn’t curl up in a ball and think “woe is me”. He sang and praised God from his cell. His ministry did not cease while he was imprisoned. In fact, we are still reading the letters he wrote while in prison. Paul’s conversion was dramatic and life changing. His passion for spreading the news of Jesus as Messiah was fueled by the multitudes who were converting. Maybe he was the original “Jesus Freak”.
Most days I don’t have 1/10 of the energy and passion we find in Paul. This world and its chaos breaks my heart. I’m talking about grieving heinous crimes, national/international responses. If my heart aches over these things, how much more is God grieved? How can I have just half of the perseverance and endurance Paul exhibited?
Acts of Paul:
Perseverance, tenacity, loyalty, faithfulness, endurance…
Father God, thank You for Paul’s example. Show me how to rely fully on You to restore and fill me! Give me the acts of Paul!

The Making of a Miracle

 

IMG_3333September 15, 2016

It was so strange to return to Yosemite. Many things seem different than I remembered, but now there is road construction in Yosemite Valley. We walked into the Yosemite Medical Clinic and ask to see Dr. Groves. We waited to meet MD Ralph since he was working with a patient.

 After greeting us, he walked us to the back of house where we met ambulance medics Joy and Mike. The three of them range in height from 6’2” – 6’7”!! My husband is 6’3”. At 5’4”, I am quite a shrimp in comparison.  

Apparently, my case was extraordinarily atypical and won’t soon be forgotten by YOSAR (Yosemite Search and Rescue) or the Yosemite medical staff. After initial thank yous and hugs, we spoke with the three and learned a few more details regarding my descent to the awaiting helicopter.

The average YOSAR teams are composed of a mix of medical personnel and non-medical personnel. Matt was a paramedic with the team who reached me first. He phoned via satellite the Yosemite Medical Clinic to speak with the MD Ralph regarding my symptoms. At this point, I was able to answer the neuro-cognitive tests (What year is it? Who is president?” etc.) accurately and paramedic Matt (and team) did not suspect I was not lucid. This is one of those times the tests didn’t give the whole picture. I don’t remember the YOSAR team at all! Or the search and rescue dog! Since 99.9% of cases that present with my symptoms are dehydration and altitude sickness, the doctor believed I was another simple case: just give the patient IV saline and altitude sickness medication; the patient will rapidly improve. We were told that one of the fastest hikers, who happened to be an EMT, took the medication up the mountain to us, which was around 6 miles from the trailhead.

After the medications were administered, they expected to see an almost immediate and significant improvement. Instead, my decline was rapid.  It became obvious that this was not going to be a typical case. Those of you who know me, know that I don’t do most things in the classic normal fashion. We think this must be around the time I started counting in German!  Ralph was searching for other causes of my condition. He had no way to confirm what he suspected: hyponatremia (critically low electrolytes especially sodium, calcium, potassium). He had recently read a case study of a Grand Canyon hiker with hyponatremia. The hiker did not recover. This condition is mostly found in marathoners in desert areas. To confirm diagnosis, a blood sample is analyzed. Treatment is IV hypertonic saline.  Ralph queries: “Does anyone know if we even have hypertonic saline?” Medic Mike (the un-organized by reputation) had been recently put in charge of the inventory and organization of the medical supplies. He recalls seeing an odd type saline in the supplies. He thinks this is what the Ralph is wanting and he knows where it is. Yes! There are 2 bags of the hypertonic! Ralph weighs the risks vs. benefits of giving me the hypertonic and decided the benefits (if correct) would outweigh the risks (if incorrect). Remember, it’s around midnight at this point. Because of my continued decline, it was “all hands on deck”! YOSAR is bringing me down trail on a gurney with 6 people steadying it and, probably, another 2-3 carrying equipment and supplies. It is still a few miles, around 2 hours to the ambulance waiting at the trailhead. Ralph decides he needs to get the hypertonic to me quickly. Someone needs to hike the medicine to meet the team on the trail. Medics Mike and Joy cannot leave the ambulance. MD Ralph decides to drive to the trailhead and take it to me himself! It took him an hour to get to us.

I believe this is pivotal to both my being alive and having normal brain activity. God knew the hypertonic would begin the restoration of my electrolytes. God knew that Mike would know where the hypertonic was in the supply closet. God knew Ralph, a runner, would be quick on the trail to get to me.

It was another hour before I was at the ambulance. Typical ambulance procedure has one medic as driver and one with the patient. I was in such distress that both medics and another one rode in back with me. (Again, I’m not a typical patient!) We think it was one the of YOSAR team who jumped in to drive the ambulance the 40 minutes to the helipads at Crane Flat Lookout. There was a party in the back and I don’t remember any of it!! The blood analyzer wasn’t working to confirm diagnosis. I began showing the signs of pulmonary edema (trouble breathing). MD Ralph must weigh the options once again. It was decided to add the 2nd hypertonic IV. The party moves on to the helipad. The flight nurse is given all the notes for my case. Due to the pulmonary edema, the nurse decides it is best to intubate before take-off rather than risk needing to do it quickly while en-route on a moving helicopter.

A few people have asked, “Why didn’t they med-evac me off the mountain with the helicopter?” and “Why didn’t the helicopter land in Yosemite Valley?” The answer is: no flying in Yosemite Valley after sunset. It is too dangerous with the varying terrain.

This had such an impact on both YOSAR and the Yosemite Medical Team that the next day Cheyne (non-medical YOSAR) went to the clinic to ask Ralph what was wrong with me. I am glad this doesn’t happen much!

We took some photos near the ambulances. After hugs and some tears, and more hugs, we parted.IMG_3332

Bill and I decided we had time to drive to Modesto and visit Doctors Medical Center Neuro Critical Care Unit (NCCU). To gain entry, one must call the nurse station. Bill called and asked for the charge nurse on duty (Susan). Susan comes out to see us. He explains why we are there. She tells him that she remembers hearing about my case and that the staff would love to meet us. Susan takes us into NCCU. Several of the nurses on duty remember us, even remembering our daughters.  One recalled extubating me! There were lots of hugs and a few tears. I have to admit that only one of them looked familiar to me. IMG_3344

Both groups told us that they rarely see the long term outcome of patients. It was an exciting treat for them. I told them “You done good!” laughing that my daughters would cringe at that phrase.

Here’s what went into the orchestration of my miracle (some taken from brother Ken’s list):

  • I trained and was fit enough to complete the Half Dome Hike.
  • There were other people with me.
  • I chose to turn around, rather than push too far.
  • I was able to hike 2 miles toward the trailhead – I didn’t fall, get lost, or meet a critter. I believe Jesus was carrying me.
  • I agreed that I needed help and one cell phone had service where we were. God was the strong tower of communications.
  • The YOSAR Team was less than 30 minutes away, not 3-4 hours. I consider this a divine coincidence. Unfortunately, the hiker, Timothy Nolan, they had been searching for was found dead the next day, having suffered a diabetic crisis.
  • I had my medical info on my phone, plus my drug allergy bracelet. God forbid I need to use them again!
  • YOSAR convinced Ken and Nils to continue back to Yosemite Valley to keep them safe. God watching over them.
  • The “fastest” hiker was available to bring the initial medications to me and get the IV started.
  • The medical staff was able to see that I needed more help as soon as possible. Divine intuition.
  • Ralph had read and remembered the article about hyponatremia. He’s a runner. He decided to give both bags of hypertonic saline. God’s discernment.
  • Competent Medical teams were waiting at the ambulance and the helicopter.
  • Doctors Medical Center in Modesto is the trauma center for the valley and was prepared to handle my case.
  • My phone led the charge nurse to call my husband. Divine communications.
  • As my family and friends learned of my condition, a prayer fire started sweeping from coast to coast! God’s people joining together, petitioning heaven!
  • My husband and daughters were able to get to Modesto – probably not as quickly as they would have preferred – but safely. God watching over them.
  • Ken was able to secure hotel rooms during a tournament weekend. God’s provision.
  • As my electrolyte levels came back within a normal range, I was brought out of the medically induced coma, able to respond. God’s timing.
  • As my cognition improved, I was able to recognize family, pass the swallow test, and begin walking again. I was discharged and returned to Houston in less than a week! God’s restoring power!

God was the maestro and each person was an instrument in His orchestra. Thank God they were willing and available!

Jesus healed 10 but only 1 returned to thank Him. I want to be continually grateful for my life being spared, for the expertise of those medical professionals I encountered in the process, for my family being together, for the Body of Christ to unite in prayer, and for the opportunity to encourage others by showing God’s love.

I won’t know this side of heaven why God chose me for a miraculous healing and not someone else. My prayer is that the story spreads His love throughout the country. Remember, I am not perfect – well, perfectly ordinary! God uses those who have an open heart and are obedient to His calling.

Epilogue: I went for my yearly eye exam expecting nothing had changed. God is full of surprises! Amazingly, my left eye is now correctable to 20/20! Thank You Doctor Jesus! When I put on the new glasses, my world became so crisp and clear! I pray that I can keep God’s vision in full, clear view.

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Circus in My Head

imagesLPL28SA8When I sit in silence, listening for God, the circus in my head distracts me. Can you relate? My circus is much larger than the famous “3-ring Circus”.  Here’s what’s happening in my circus rings: doubt, to-do-list, stress, family, health issues, guilt, groceries, “did I wash my hair?”, denial, and the list keeps on going, surpassing the “Energizer Bunny”.  It’s no wonder I don’t hear God!! There’s too much noise! I’m working on quieting the din. I want to hear God’s gentle whispers of guidance and love.

 

Even writing this, I am disrupted by the inconsequential chatter of my brain. Our busy society makes it too easy to be a multi-tasker. Social media, tablets, movies, television-in every room, and cell phones keep us connected regardless of our geographic locale.  Which do you do first: pray and read your Bible? OR check social media?

 

I am challenging myself to STOP the circus. I want to give the Master of the Universe my full attention. To turn off the television, music, games, phones and sit quietly, patiently waiting on Him. But the circus is so boisterous! I find it so difficult to ignore. I am like a child at the circus. I want cotton candy, peanuts, and to watch 100 clowns pile into a tiny car. I tug impatiently at Abba’s hand to come with me. All He wants is my devoted attention.

 

What is distracting you from hearing God? I challenge you to quiet the circus. Be still and know He is God.

 

 

 

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In this moment

42-17251068I have been an impatient person (probably) my whole life. Many are the times God uses situations to teach me patience. Just when I think I’m mellowing-at least some-I find a new circumstance stirring my impatience pot. I put on blinders, pretending I’m not frustrated or angered, but the reality is I get stressed. God wants me to learn (and relearn) patience and understanding. As were the Israelites, I, too, am quite stubborn, pig-headed, hyper-focused, wanting things my way and in my time frame.
This is a new life season for me. Waiting for the birth of the first grandchild. Waiting. Waiting. WAITING!!!!! Past the due date, one day, two days, three days, four days…every day and every night asking for God to set the systems to go. This precious miracle of life I am longing to hold in my arms. It’s so very exciting and exhilarating! Can you understand why I am impatient? However, the expectations I have for the timing of this event have been overruled by Abba (Father). It’s a good thing He doesn’t ask my permission on these matters!
One year ago, I wasn’t sure whether my eyes would heal from hemorrhages or if I would ever drive again. (Look back to 8/24/15 entry for hiking blog beginning.) I think I had more patience then. But others may disagree. I knew regardless of the outcome, I would still live a full life albeit with some minor inconveniences. With an otherwise miraculous recovery, my God story was forming, getting ready for the telling. I was content to walk through the season of healing, sharing my miracle, drawing nearer to God.
Fast forward to celebrating life and the blessings a child brings to a family. Unable to drive, my daughter needed someone to be with her during the day.  I am blessed to have the flexibility to drop my schedule to help her.  That’s what moms do. It’s been two weeks. She has shown many signals that labor is not far away. Still, no birth.
God’s message is to enjoy every moment. Live in the now. Not the then or the yet to be. Don’t wish away life. Sometimes I am so focused on the next phase, I lose sight of the current phase. I need to embrace these days with my daughter. This time with her will never be back. Our dynamic will change as she takes on the role of mother and leaves daughter on the back burner. My prayer is that this will be a firm foundation for the changing relationship.
God’s plans are bigger and better than I can imagine. He only gives me enough vision for my current stage. I would want to jump ahead if I had the whole trip mapped out for me! He knows that too! He loves my daughter and grandson more than I do. He has perfect timing every time.
So, here I sit at her table, 500+ miles away from home. Thunderstorms rumbling the apartment. Lights flickering and lightning flashes. Waiting for labor to begin. Listening to raindrops on the roof and downspout.
Thank You, Father, for this step, for reminding me to not rush through life; for time to reflect and pray. Make me a blessing to someone everyday!

p.s. Hiking blog update coming soon.

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Am I Scared of God?

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Recently, I read Proverbs 31:30-31:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I was struck by “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” What does this mean? Am I supposed to be scared of the hell, fire, brimstone and damnation so frequently toted among certain groups? I don’t think so.

God is my (our) Abba, Father, Daddy, Papa. Yes, He disciplines His children, as any good father would do. It seems to me that He wants respect, awe, reverence, and loyalty, not a paralyzing fear of Him.

He is: Jehovah-Rapha, our Healer; Jehovah-Shalom, our Peace; El-Roi, God who sees me; Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider; Adonai Lord and many other names from the Old and New Testaments.

I am in awe of all God’s creations. Consider how humans are amazing machines capable of thinking, creating, reproducing, communicating, etc. Our brains tell muscles to move our bones, and we walk. No oil changes need (except maybe shampooing), just routine maintenance of food and liquids, exercise and rest. Or plants that start as a tiny seed and grow to bear fruit or provide great shade (important in Houston). Tiny leaves slowly unfurl to catch nutrients from the sun causing growth to maturity; with roots that absorb water to support that growth. That was a mini science note!

God works miracles small and large on a daily basis. You just need to pay attention.  It can be a life saving delay that keeps me from a fatal accident. Or a miraculous healing that the doctors cannot explain. He loves us SO much that He sent Jesus, His only Son. How amazingly awesome is that?!?!

Reverence is deep respect. How do I respect God? Personally, I strive to not pollute my environment, body and soul; reading His Word for its revealing wisdom and path to Abba; being a servant and not served; taking on His yoke. You might think “sounds great, but is it sustainable?” I am an imperfect human. Therefore, it is God who brings to fruition grace and forgiveness in my life. He gives me His words to speak when I’d like to scream at someone. But I have to be aware and open the channel to Him first. Also, reverence includes not having a tantrum if the answer to my prayer is “wait” or “no.” God is omniscient – all knowing. He has the big road map and I have the street map. His ways are higher and are for my good. I may need hindsight to see it sometimes.

Lord, Abba, El-Roi, continue to reveal Your amazing grace and love to me that I may share with others. Help me to remember to seek You first and have a grateful attitude. Let others see the something different in me is Your Holy Spirit. Let me be a woman who is in awe of You! Amen.

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Afterglow

Now it has been 7 months since my “reboot”.  God has been amazing! I’m sure you’re thinking, “she writes that every time!” It seems to me that I know God is omnipotent and omnipresent. My human brain cannot fathom some of the miracles I have seen! It could be a cultural concept – keeping God in a box. I am as normal as I ever have been, whatever that means! I am determined not to forget what miracle God has done for my family. This weekend, we celebrated community and life with our wonderful friends who happen to be neighbors, about 35 of them! One of the neighborhood contact points for September’s traumatic event told us how he wanted news, but knew that was NOT our priority. He was patient, but had to respond every few hours to emails and texts from others inquiring if there was any update. This was my first time to hear his side.  He was talking about how amazing my healing has been. I went from critical with not much chance, to I will live but what brain function will be lost, to walking, to leaving the hospital and flying home the next day. A rare outcome for someone with all the medical issues I had. God is faithful and I know He has more planned. I heard song lyrics: “the best is not done, the best is yet to come.” That is how life is with Abba, Jehovah Rapha, Elohim, our Heavenly Father. When it seems you are in a dry place, remember God has a “waiting room” for you while He is getting things prepared for His plan.

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Scripture: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” John 12:24

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