Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not a TV Person But . . .

I've been recording Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and watching them after my husband goes to bed or during the day when my body demands a rest.  Cheesy?  Yes. Corny? Yes.  But I tear up at them, enjoy the romance, and celebrate the Happy Ever Afters.

In general, I watch very little television.  I just can't get into it except for American Idol (though it's pretty old now) and Dancing With The Stars (mostly because a friend watches we enjoy critiquing).  As for horror flicks and TV series, I just don't need the gloom and doom in my head. Cheesy or not, Hallmark movies are real for me.  No one's life is perfect, but neither are we doomed to misery and suffereing. If I never see another end-of-the-world type show, I'll be happy.

I wonder . . . what's the attraction?  Why do viewers enjoy the gore and the fear?  What makes some of his Hallmark fans and while others are fans for horror films? 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Reboot

My youngest son cooked dinner this year.  We kept it small, just the four of us because I still wear out quickly, but we had a wonderful day.  The food came out perfect--turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans with bacon, mac n' cheese, sweet potatoes, rolls, cheesecake and cherry pie.

It's times like this when I think of my mom. What a joy to pass these traditions on to the next generation.  One tradition that isn't getting passed on is rutabagas.  Looks like I'm the last of the Bylins who actually likes mashed yellow turnips. In the back of my head, I hear my entire family shouting, "Good! Rutabagas are awful!"

So much to be grateful for!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

One Last Trip Around the Mountain

So back to last week and the hospital. It's Wednesday night.  I'm one week post op from the hysterectomy, and the kidney failure is resolved. At this point I'm waiting to get rid of the catheter and to have the stents removed. I don't want to cross into TMI (too much info, and some might think I already have) but here's what happened: they took out the cath and left the stents in with plans to remove them in the morning. 

So the pain starts around 9 pm. It's not all that bad, but enough for a pain pill.  An hour later, it's worse and it's different from the surgical pain I'm used to. This is on the right side in the back, isolated, and equivalent to a glowing red brick.  The nurse and I do the "what would you rate your pain" game for a while. 1 to 2 -- headache level for me. 3 to 4 -- worth taking something.  5 to 6--bring on the heavy stuff.  7 to 8 -- knock me out.  This pain hit 10. That's the point where my mind checked out.  All I remember is praying one words, "Jesus . . . Jesus . . . " over and over. I can't begin to describe how vivid that moment still is to me.  Pain, yes.  But there was such comfort in that prayer.  And peace. 

At some point the nurse called the doctor and he had her replace the catheter.  The pain ebbed in a breath and eased even more with a second breath. By breath #3, I was comfortable enough to fall sound asleep.  I woke up six hours later feeling . . . perfectly fine.  No pain. Completely rested.  It all felt like a dream.  Turns out a bladder spasm caused the trouble. We waited another day; the doctor took the stents out; and everything worked like it should.  My son drove me home on a gray day that was anything but gloomy.

Home!  Finally. It's been almost a week now and I'm feeling better every day. I'm glad, but part of me is clinging to these memories because they changed something deep and internal.  I don't ever want to be flippant with my faith or to take God's hand lightly. Or to turn him into an errand boy -- "Get me out of here, Mr. Wizard!"

My biggest take away from all this -- That little yellow flower in the tapestry belongs to a world far bigger and more beautiful than it can comprehend. There's beauty in pain, beauty in healing. There's joy in coming home, but there's also joy in a hospital bed when the future is uncertain and you know that somehow God knows, and it's okay--whatever it turns out to be.

It's Thanksgiving. That strikes me as the perfect to say it again, "Thank you God! Amen and Amen!"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Amazing Grace & Blooming Gardens

So back to the story . . . I'm in the hospital for the second time, hurting, nauseous and miserable.  To be honest, I was pretty much everything but scared.  It never occurred to me that the nausea was more than just that. I figured I'd get fixed up and be on my way home.  But they did a CT scan and the blood work came back.

The next day it was definitive: acute renal failure. 

I'll never forget hearing those words, but at the same time, the moment wasn't real.  A good looking young doctor stood at the foot of the bed and very carefully walked me through the events that led to the moment--the pain meds, the nausea, the stomach stuff, the blood pressure medicine. Then he said that my kidneys had essentially stopped working.  The chances of them coming back? He declined to say which I understand. He had a stethoscope, not a crystal ball.  The IV treatment stuff started big time. The pastor of our church and a good friend came and we prayed. I can't remember a single word, just that sense of abiding in God's presence, that certainty that that He knew all about this mess and that I was safe in a way that defied test results.

That night I had a cystoscopy plus stents put in by a doc who could have been an extra in MASH.  Seriously, he reminded me of Alan Alda. Turns out he's an old trauma surgeon. Compassion oozed from that man. When he looked at me and said he did this all the time and could do it in his sleep, I believed him.

So they knocked me out again, I had the procedure, and the waiting began to see if my kidneys would jumpstart. 

Still, no fear.  Just that sense of God is God.  If I can trust him with my eternal soul, surely I can trust him with my earthly body.  This doesn't mean I expected to be healed. It means I knew God would be with my family and me wherever the path led, even to a life on dialysis as remote as that seemed.  I had a dream that night about a tapestry being woven.  I was a little yellow flower. Friends and family were other types of plants and flowers, but the main thing about that image was that the tapestry was being woven by God one needle prick at a time, and that those flowers were all connected in an amazing garden of beauty.  

It's sounds a little pain-induced now, but that dream is embedded in my brain.  The oneness I felt with God and community--everyone from family to friends to church friends to nurses and docs--was beyond description.

We got word the next afternoon that my kidney function was back to 100% normal.  That's when it hit . . . I was on the mend.  As things turned out, there was one more ordeal . . . more on that later.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just Two Weeks Ago? Really?

Two weeks ago tomorrow I went "into the shop" for some routine girl surgery -- a laparoscopic hysterectomy and some other related stuff. No worries . . . the docs do stuff like this every day. I'm extremely healthy and generally heal fast.

Everything went just fine and I felt better than I expected when leaving the hospital after an overnight stay.

 Twenty-our hours later, the nausea hit. 

I don't know if it was the pain meds, eating too much too soon, or what . . . but once it started, I was in trouble and didn't know it.  I toughed it out from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning with doctor calls, different anti-nausea meds, different pain meds, tried to drink a lot of water, kept some down, but not all.  It was just awful, and my poor husband went through it with me.  I kept insisting that healing takes time, which it does, but it's important to know when the healing isn't happening at all.

Finally I stopped arguing and we went back to the hospital. Trying to "tough it out" was one of the stupidest mistakes I've ever made . . . That's the start of tomorrow's story.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Coincidence? I Don't Think So

I'm going to "out" myself as a bit of a nut with this post, but this really happened.  I posted yesterday about the Multiply simulcast and how it impacted me. 

Today I started the day with flat-on-the-floor prayer, the kind where you smell the carpet and it scratches your nose. You're a little bit cold because it's 5 a.m., but that's okay because the chill wakes you up. The dog probably thought I was dead. He came to sniff, decided I was breathing and curled up back under the covers. 

That prayer time was for family, friends, the book, and for me to remember who God is.

I hit the computer, worked on Chapter 8 some more and took the dog for a walk. So here are the coincidences that made my jaw drop.

1.  Two blocks from home I saw a car with California plates. That alone is fairly unusual here in Lexington, but these plates were in a frame that said Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield is my old stomping ground and it plays a part in "Until I Found You." I've never seen Bakersfield plates in KY before now.

2.  A block later, I saw an old car in a driveway.  Super old . . . like vintage. I get closer and it's a 1960-sometning Chevy Impala SS. Not just a Chevy Impala, but an SS.  Would you believe the hero in my book has a classic Chevy Impala SS?  His is 1962 because that's what my dad had, but still, it counts.  I've never seen this car before. What are the odds?

3.  A friend at church often tells me about her granddaughter.  Today she told me about the little girl's mermaid costume.  My jaw dropped, because . . . you guessed it. The little girl in my book is infatuated with mermaids.  Mermaids? At church?  I don't think I've ever talked mermaids at church before.

Here's why this stuff matters to me.  I believe in a God who has supernatural power.  Make that:

People often argue against the resurrection this way: It didn't happen, because it couldn't happen, so it didn't happen.  But what if it COULD happen and what if it DID happen?  What if Jesus Christ really is Who He says He is?

What if he's the kind of God who loves a tired, struggling writer enough to send her love letters in the form of license plate holders, vintage cars and mermaid costumes? 

What if? Make that:


Coincidence? I don't think so.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Multiply Simulcast

Last night I attended "Multiply," a three-hour video conferences with David Platt and Frances Chan about making disciples. 

Three hours on an uncomfortable chair.

Three hours with the uncomfortable realization that I'd lost my first love. 

But it was also three hours in the presence of a loving, almighty, merciful God . . . the God who sent his son first, then the Holy Spirit, to empower us to do his work.  Make that:


That was my biggest take-away last night--a reminder of who God is. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords gives us supernatural power to do the work he's called us to do. We are connected to God the Father. Make that:


I don't need to sweat out Chapter 8 (it's a tough one). I need to pray and give it to God.  This book is his--not mine.  I'm the scribe, or maybe an empty tube of a pen in need of spiritual ink. Frankly, I'm a lousy writer and a fairly good editor. No wonder I've been tired, dragging, and a little burned out. Like the Little Engine that Could, I've been chugging along in my own strength, writing this book to a schedule, pushing myself at the day job, and juggling some family/health things.

Go! Go! Go!

Do! Do! Do!

And all the time, God's been whispering, "Pray about it, Child."  Make that:


This isn't the first time I've been around this mountain. It probably won't be the last, but for now I'm back on track. The Little Engine That Could is taking on fresh coal today.