Okay. Time to be real. Life has been REALLY, SUPER, DUPER difficult the past few months.
But I feel like I say this ALL THE TIME!
Well . . . at least every few months.
And every time I admit it, I feel like life just gets harder. So I would rather be silent, than say it again and again and again, only to have life keep being hard or worse, become even harder than it already is. But if I don’t say something, then I miss out on being able to look back in time and SEE how I got through those difficult times. ESPECIALLY when the trial seems to last so much longer than we thought it would or should.
For instance . . . last year.
2016 was a HUGE year for our family. Not only were we in the beginning stages of Homeschooling, but I was SO VERY SICK! I honestly had no idea how sick I was until AFTER I had a year to recover from the surgery I ended up having in the middle of that year. But did I blog about it?
Do I feel like digging into old journals and writing what I felt and what I went through?
So now those days are gone. Lost. I dare say, almost forgotten?
But they were SO HARD to bare!
They were painful days. Days filled with loneliness and sometimes fear because I didn’t know how sick I was, so I didn’t know how to get better. I just waited. Day after day after day, hoping to get better. But I NEVER did!
I FINALLY had to go to my “mommy” doctor in Costa Rica but I didn’t NOT agree with what he had to say. Had I not taken the time to investigate my own symptoms and search out in my mind what I felt was wrong and what I felt I was willing to do, I would have left his office devastated.
Instead, I found the courage to call someplace I did feel comfortable to talk to and asked them for their opinions. They asked me to come for a visit, while we were visiting in Utah. So I did.
I scheduled the visit for the first Friday we were in Utah, wanting to get it out of the way so we could focus on the rest of our exciting and fully booked trip. But the news I got would change all that I had planned. . . at least for myself.
When I heard that a hysterectomy was the ONLY safe and most sound option, my heart leaped for joy but my mind was devastated. Is THIS really something I HAVE to go through? THIS?!?
“This was NOT the plan!!” my mind kept telling me.
But my heart reassured me that “the plan” was actually ALL about me and it was created so that this surgery would be possible and a success for my future.
As early as February, I had started to make “The Plan”. The whole purpose was for our family to do MANY different things during our 5 week stay in Utah. I had interviewed each person individually and they had shared with me what they desired to do. Then I orchestrated a plan to make it all happen. The funny thing was, I was so busy planning everyone else’s trip, I really didn’t make any plans for myself. Aside from a few family outings I wanted to take, I really didn’t have anything planned for myself that having the surgery would have cancelled.
In THIS MOMENT, my heart helped my mind to see that God also had a “His Plan” and THAT PLAN was MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than “Our Family’s Plan”.
Thankfully, “His Plan” also included all that I had planned for my family to do, but it also included me having last minute, MAJOR surgery. (Still thinking about that decision makes me shutter)
Could I do this? Could I REALLY take this HUGE leap of faith?
It honestly took me almost a week to make the decision, I was THAT BOTHERED by “His Plan.” But once I made the choice, I felt like everything else just fell into place. It was perfect. I also realized that I was the one holding things up (as usual).
I feel that having the surgery literally saved my life. But our trip to Utah did too! I still marvel at how perfectly orchestrated everything went. Each person got to still do EXACTLY what they had hoped to do AND “I” got to still do the fun family outings I had hoped for because most of them were before the surgery. Isn’t it funny how we get guided to make such plans. NOTHING is a coincidence! Nothing!
The trip turned out being a FANTASTIC memory for our entire family! It is something that we hope to remember and cherish over the years. But coming home and getting back to our regular routine is what helped me start to realize just how sick I really had been.
The first major difference was “my smell.” I hadn’t realized how NASTY I smelled before the surgery. It had come on gradually over the first few months of illness but once it came, it came with all out force. I literally smelled like a Chinese food packaging plant. It was sooo gross! (Sorry Chad)
The second difference was how tired I was. I slept ALL THE TIME. I was literally on bed rest for 7 months (July 2016 – January 2017). I remember noticing the days that I didn’t feel so tired, I loved that feeling. But then I would push myself to do things like I “used to do” and then I would pay for it by having more sleepy days that followed. I had to learn to pace myself and to not push myself to work too hard. I felt lazy, unproductive and like a major mommy slacker.
That was when I started a Gratitude Journal.
I started to write down all the things I was grateful for THAT DAY and in THAT MOMENT. It made me feel better that although my life is not going as I had thought it would (a hysterectomy for my upcoming 40th birthday was NEVER part of my master plan), it was my new reality and I needed to embrace it. As I focused on the positive, my days didn’t seem as dull and unsatisfying. I found that I could stay awake longer but still needed to stay in bed. So I found positive things to do with my time.
I found that watching television or movies only made me feel worse about my body’s progress, so instead, I dove head first into learning. I learned to slowly read the scriptures, unpacking a verse at a time; sometimes taking 30 minutes to just study and ponder on that one scripture. I also would listen to a Conference talk, or two, every day. Listening to the talks gave me hope that “this too shall pass” and that one day, I would understand WHY this needed to happen to me now (and while living in a foreign country, homeschooling 4 kids). Not later in my life, possibly living in the USA again.
I also started to work more diligently on my cross-stitch of a “Winter Scene”. I had started it January 2016, right as I was starting to get sick, and I wanted to have it finished as a sign that I was “all better”. I worked on that cross-stitch for 15 months, spending hundreds of hours on it. It will forever be a testament to me of how little by little, things can work together for our good.
What did I do while I cross-stitched all those hours? I either listened to a Sisters in Scriptures class, watched (more like listened) to a movie with Paul or I would let my kiddos talk to me. I now look back on those months of bed rest with fondness. I sort of miss them “some” days. Not because I want to be lazy but because there was a sweet feeling in the home while I was recovering. It was as if my kids intuitively knew that “mom was sick and she NEEDS me.” Each child stepped up and helped me in ways I don’t feel I could have ever taught them otherwise. Especially GingerSnap.
She was my nurse. My shoulder to cry on. And the strongest receiver of intuitiveness. At my weakest moments, she just KNEW to bring me lunch (or even breakfast) in bed. She would shut the curtains, bring me water, turn on or off the light, or just keep the kids quiet for me. She literally helped save me. I will forever be thankful that Ginger Snap was sent into my life because she seemed to be the only one who really got how sick I was.
I will always treasure this time because the greatest gift came from me. That gift was my friendship with GingerSnap. She and I can talk now, on a level we never had before. I struggled all of GingerSnap’s life trying to figure out HOW to love her and include her in my life. This experience solidified that for us and we have been happy with each other ever since.
I am TRULY thankful for this gift because it came just in time for GingerSnap to become a Young Woman. Hopefully I can be a positive support to her, as she was one for me when I needed her most.
The third difference was me NOTICING my body. Before this moment, I hadn’t realized how STRONG and CAPABLE my body truly was. As I was healing, I would think how I wanted to look like I did before we moved to Costa Rica – same size, weight, shape. But when I would think that way, I could literally feel my body slump down in agony. My body wanted to be treated with MORE RESPECT than what I was giving it. It didn’t want to be judged for its outside appearance, especially in THAT moment. I needed to change the dialogue in my head and stop focusing on the past. But how to live in this moment, in recovery mode?
That was when baths became a priority. HOT BATHS.
I don’t know the science behind soaking in HOT WATER when recovering from a major illness, but it was a MUST for me. I had to soak in the tub at least once week, for at least an hour or two. Sometimes up to three times a week during particularly toxic weeks.
I came to realize that the HOT BATHS were a positive and helpful way for my body to rid itself of not only the toxins it had received from the anesthesia and medications I received for the surgery but it helped to rid my body of all the toxins it had collected during the illness before the surgery.
Sometimes I would leave “the smell” behind in the water, allowing me to accept just how much toxin is still in my body. It helped me to slow down, not hurry the process, and do my best to make sure as much of the illness could get out of my body, before I returned to everyday activity again. This experience helped me to learn just how amazing my body is to TELL ME what I needed to do to rid myself of all things harmful and life threatening.
As I cooled off from the HOT BATH, I would sit and ponder the other times my body “just knew” what to do.
* Child Birth.
* Becoming a wife.
* Enduring physical activities it had never done before (like climbing a mountain or running a marathon).
* Surviving a fatal car accident.
* Burying a sister and a daughter.
* Caring for the helpless for all hours of the night (my children).
* Raising children.
* Learning to drive a boat.
* Learning to put a boat into the lake with a boat trailer.
* Learning to drive/live in a foreign country with a foreign language.
* Learning to go to church for 3 hours in a foreign language and stay calm.
* Learning to wait, and wait, and wait for meetings to start AND finish.
* Learning to forgive.
* Learning to love unconditionally.
* Learning to be patient with others learning to be patient.
* Learning to repent.
* Learning to live happily and with happy thoughts, even when life doesn’t feel happy.
My body literally became MY BEST FRIEND during this experience. I began to see value, truth and loyalty in my body. My body had been there with me through all my most cherished moments, as well as all my most difficult moments. The least I can do now is accept my body the way it is and do all that I can to help it be healthy, active and as productive and helpful as possible.
This experience alone makes me SO SAD that I did not share it on the blog that year. How else will my children learn that life is full of twists and turns but they are not to be feared, but experienced. These experiences, or trials, are created to teach us and to add joy to our lives. I now LOVE my body. I appreciate it more than I ever have (even after childbirth) and I am learning to protect it from negative thoughts or ideas.
I also was blessed to create a strong relationship with GingerSnap and in a way that I would never have created for myself. I also have been blessed to respect others feelings more and to let people have space as they strive to live their best life. And lastly, I KNOW that I can trust in God. For HE had a plan all along and HE knew that I had NO IDEA how to take care of myself, but HE did! I am so thankful for His love, His mercy and His ability/privilege to intervene when HE is needed most.
This trip down memory lane causes me to pause and take stock of the true purpose of this blog. I need it as much as my posterity does. I hope that my readers will enjoy it too and will find strength, hope and joy as they read from my experiences. I also hope they will share them with those they feel could use a little boost. That is my true hope, to serve others, as I serve myself.
May God be thanked for this opportunity to share His light, love and mercy.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thanks for listening,