April 29, 2014

Life is a journey towards healing.

I should be happy today.
I got my stent removed and my urologist said my next appointment is in 6 months.
November.  November!!
He can still see healing scars in my bladder, but says in 6 months my bladder may look like a completely normal person's bladder.
Healing, my friends, is AMAZING.

I had stones attached to my stent and in my urine sample.  He thinks this is why I've been in so much "pain".  (Pain is not a good word to describe what I've been in, but whatever.)

I placed my cloudy, floaty and blood filled, urine sample on a shelf next to another random urine sample.  The other pee was light yellow, clear and beautiful.  Today I caught myself being jealous of an urologist-visiting, old man's pee.  Lovely.  I chuckled all the way back to the waiting room.

My stent removal was fast and mildly painful.  I've been so uncomfortable for so long that I couldn't help the tears that slipped down my cheeks.  It's too much, even as it's slowing.
Ugh.  I'm SO sick of healing.

Isn't that dumb?

The day I'm graduating, I'm grieving the process.  It's like all my self pity was stored up till it was safe to come out.
I'm so scared to feel relieved, hopeful or (Heaven forbid) finished.
Today, one of my best days, was honestly one of my hardest days.

I'm so tempted, yet so afraid to say that this was my "last" surgery or last stent or last infection... Because that will make my next bump in the road a bit more jarring.

I heard recently that you can't selectively numb emotions.  When you numb the bad, you also numb the good.  If fear is a trigger of vulnerability, joy is an even bigger trigger.  I think joy triggered my vulnerability today, but I don't think I'm numb.  
I'm feeling quite raw and acceptably vulnerable.  
I think more joy will come tomorrow and as summer commences.
I think joy will increase as normal continues to return.
Todd held me last night and said, "I don't feel afraid to touch you anymore.  I think tonight was the first time I held you and wasn't afraid."
Yes, that was a normal, painful, healing joy moment.  I love loving that man.
My mother in law leaves tomorrow.
I'm scared.
I'm scared for my body and my mind.
I'm scared for my husband and children.
I'm scared I'll get infected again, that my kidneys won't work, that my scar will rip.
I'm scared of dying and I'm scared of failing.
I'm scared of hurting those I love.
I'm scared I will never be enough.
And- I'm surprisingly OK with my fear.
I feel it, but it doesn't drown me.
I'm doggy paddling and I have lifeguards close even if I do start to drown.
I'm not afraid to be afraid.  
Ha!  That is really true.
Courage isn't the absence of fear and even when my knowledge, understanding, and faith falls short- I still have courage.  
When I loose courage, Todd still has faith.
Tonight I will cry and tomorrow I will walk on with my fear and my beloved family.
I can do this.
We can do this.

You see, when you finish a marathon, you get a picture, maybe a medal, and you can rest.  
When you heal-- you get your normal hard life back.  Graduating from illness just means you get to try to do what everyone else is already doing.  When you finish a healing you try to come back to life, but life is forever changed.
Returning to normal is hard. 
It's scary even if there is nothing I'd rather try to do.

I feel raw today.
Like a Veteran.
How do veterans come home?
I'm uncomfortable with any reference to my courage (although I have learned for myself that I am brave).  
I feel uncomfortable with references like "I can't complain to you, your trials were worse than mine" (because there is no scale to hard).  
I'm humbled by pain and suffering (because I know it now- I feel it again and again when I hear your stories and I know).  
I don't know how to talk normal when so much of normal is unimportant, busy, and ridiculous.
I will never be the same, physically, spiritually, or emotionally.
None of us are.
I am born again and I feel honored to be here.
For some reason God let me live and He didn't let your son live or your mother or their baby.  And that is not fair.  I don't know why, but I promise to be grateful and purposeful and aware every moment that life is a precious gift.

I promise to hold my kids extra tight tonight, because he can't hold his.
I am a Vetran who feels the loss of my friends so very heavily.

I'm a Vetran who has fought a collective war, alone, with the whole world.
It is so weird how trials (like child birth and near-death) seem to connect you to all of humanity.

Physically, I'm not done healing- I'm changed.  I am a masterpiece-- I have been pieced together by over 200 people who donated blood and hundreds of lab technicians, sonographers, radiologists, nurses, doctors, and surgeons.  I have been physically touched and literally healed by many.  My scars are external and mainly internal.  I'm beautifully mutilated. I'm a miracle and my body- my loveable, strong, healing, armored tank of a body made EIGHT humans and helps me feel joy!  Wow.

Emotionally, I have no idea where I am.  I'm right here in the muddled middle waiting for some drastic wall to smash me in the face.  Because, no one can do this without major emotional issues (can they)?  I am raw, real and ready.  I'm deep and gentle with the process.  My emotions are deep- so deep.  But, I'm not drowning because a deeper reservoir has been carved into my soul.  I feel content in pain and joy in the ordinary.

Spiritually, I am.  I know even as I see all I don't know.  I trust the plan.  I love this plan and a God who taught me the beauty of growth,  I have no idea how I just KNOW God loves us.  I just do.  I think it is OK to be mad and angry and confused and questioning God.  I have.  But, right now I just know He's here, with all of us.  I know He cries with us.  He is blessing us.  He lets us hurt in the middle because He knows the end.  He has gifted me with the confidence that the glorious end justifies this hard, hard journey.  I just know it IS worth it.

I'm not proud of myself. I'm almost embarrassed.  Is that weird?  I know that the only way I survived the past year was because I was intensely, immensely, incredibly blessed.  My little family was so blessed by strangers, doctors, friends and amazing extended family members.  I am not a hero- I am one who has been rescued.  I was SAVED by many.  

I was blessed to live and to heal.  I was blessed with grace and strength and courage and faith and optimism.  I did not nor could I have "healed" on my own.  And, I'm embarrassed.  Because not everyone gets these same blessings.  Not everyone lives-- but EVERYONE is saved.  
Your blessings might not look like mine.
I'm sorry if you are lonely in your suffering.
I'm sorry if you are not the sufferer.  I think it is easier to suffer that to watch someone you love suffer.  
I'm sorry if you never get to experience pain- because you never get to feel the grace of relief.  
I'm sorry that I lived and someone else died.  I suppose that is just life.
I don't understand all of life, but I trust the journey.

Life, oh glorious, ordinary day.
Tomorrow I lift my baby boy.
Tomorrow I cook dinner.
Tomorrow I walk (hopefully without feeling the ridiculous urge to go to the bathroom).
Tomorrow I might die.
Tonight- right now- I'm typing a too-long, too-rambled blog on my phone while my best husband sleeps cuddled beside me.  I spent MONTHS missing him beside me.
Some people are never loved like I am loved.
Tonight and tomorrow my soul is GRATEFUL.  Tearfully, vulnerably grateful.

Two Book of Mormon scriptures (and a few quotes) come to my mind.
 If you've made it this far, you can make it through a bit of raw religion.

Helaman 5:12
 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

2 Nephi 2:23-25

 22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

 23 And they would have had no achildren; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no bjoy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no csin.

 24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who aknoweth all things.

 25 aAdam bfell that men might be; and mencare, that they might have djoy.

And this quote from a recent BYU devotional on Healing by Jonathan Sandberg...

"My talk is entitled “Healing = Courage + Action + Grace.” And in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., who was recently listed in Ted Stewart’s The Mark of a Giant2 as one of seven people who changed the world, I start with an example from his life that so clearly highlights these principles. Look for courage, action, and grace as I read his words:

Almost immediately after the [bus boycott]started we had begun to receive threatening telephone calls and letters. They increased as time went on. . . .

One night . . . I couldn’t sleep. It seemed that all of my fears had come down on me at once. . . .

. . . I had heard these things before, but for some reason that night it got to me. . . . I went to the kitchen and . . . I sat there and thought about a beautiful little daughter who had just been born. . . . I started thinking about a dedicated and loyal wife, who was over there asleep. And she could be taken from me, or I could be taken from her. And I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any longer. . . . With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud . . . : “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. I think I’m right. I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now, I’m faltering. I’m losing my courage. Now, I am afraid. . . . I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.”

It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you. Even until the end of the world.”

I tell you . . . I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me alone. At that moment I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.3"

"No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our soul, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God." Orson F. Whitney

"... I have chosen to speak to you tonight about the implications of two things we accept sometimes quite casually. These realities are that God loves us and, loving us, has placed us here to cope with challenges which he will place before us. I'm not sure we can always understand the implications of his love, because his love will call us at times to do things we may wonder about, and we may be confronted with circumstances we would rather not face. I believe with all my heart that because God loves us there are some particularized challenges that he will deliver to each of us. He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like. And this will require us to accept with all our hearts--particularly your generation--the truth that there is divine design in each of our lives and that you have rendezvous to keep, individually and collectively." Neal A. Maxwell, But For a Small Moment, BYU Devotional Address 9/74.

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated." Thomas Paine, The Crisis

I should be happy today.

I AM happy today.  I'm happy even IF this is still the middle of a hard, long, life of learning.  

I am happy because I have been healed.

I am happy because I am still healing.

I am happy because I believe in healing, I believe pain has purpose and I know He has power to heal us every whit... We can be healed every "stretch marked" whit, in His time, in His way and by His blood.  (Sometimes even healing, life-saving blood hurts- in case you're wondering.)

Thank you for walking this year with me.  I'm here with you too.  We might not have ever met, but we know each other.  Because that is what life does- it connects us and we learn to love each other in out imperfect perfectness.

Life is ordinarily, painfully, gracefully good!! 

April 28, 2014

April 25, 2014

Spring Break Boot Camp and Building a Chicken Coop

Yes we did.
We are just ending one week of Spring Break boot camp.  Every time I come back to life, I have to battle again to rethrone.

We did graded chore and dish jobs.
Graded on 

We had daily honor roll trips- usually to get ice cream.

It worked.
I reign.

Love these kids!  Nice to remember how well-behaved they really can be.

Around these parts Operation Chicken is in full swing.  We are building a coop and fortifying against Wile E. Cayote.
I almost feel sorry for the varment around these parts.  
We designed a few great coops- and then ended up building one right into our barn.  I think this is the best choice for safety and accessibility during our long winters.  My dad is head of construction effort.  I'm pretty excited about this!

Here are a few of my favorite designs...
This cute factor (above) with this function ability (below).
Here are some great moveable options-
(We may still build that portable pen if free ranging proves too fatal to our ladies.)

Oh- I love spring.
I am NOT a farmer, carpenter or a realist.

(Do you know 2x4's cost $5 each?!! Cough. Cough.  Um, we didn't even buy my cute paint, red door or shutters!)

I'm just a mother and a dreamer.
(And, I NEED a red door.)
Life is good.

April 23, 2014

Raw Milk

This is our gang, on the way to a friend's house Saturday afternoon.
 Have you ever tasted "raw milk"?
Milk right out of a cow.
I have always wanted to taste "real" fresh milk.
So, we took a trip.
 We drove past Gee Hill...
(Todd's Mom is a Gee-- wonder if there is any relation?)
 We always travel with a whole gang of kids.
 Look at those lovely ladies.
Some had utters just begging to be milked.
One lucky lady was in the barn hooked up to a machine that sucked the milk through tubes right to this container--
 This milk was still warm.
 That smaller container emptied into this big vat of raw milk.
 (The milk truck had been there recently so it wasn't very full.)
 For $2 a gallon, we scooped our own milk and left the dollars in a coffee can on the shelf.
Sounds neat, doesn't it?
 On the way home, we stopped by a donkey/cow farm.
Leah loves her donkeys.
(I think this was the first time she has actually seen a real donkey.  I'm wondering if they are bit bigger than she was imagining them to be.  We're still planning on a trip to see some miniature donkeys.)
Leah has been asking for a donkey, for months.

 Back at my friends' farm, my big kids were determined to catch the rooster.
 That old cock-a-doodler was eventually caught, but I'm afraid he might be forever traumatized.
Poor fella.

We cooked our milk at 140 degrees for 15 minutes and then used it like normal.

My opinion-- raw milk tastes...
just like regular whole milk, with some floaties in it.
I'm surprised.
I thought our store bought milk was a bit more processed.
It didn't seem that different to me. 
(But, I'm NOT one that would ever spend inordinate amounts of money on organic foods.)

I like cows.
I like roosters.
I like milk.

But mostly, I just like this kind of life.
I like that my kids know where their food comes from.
I like that they touch things that are REAL.
I love to see them playing together, outside, in this beautiful earth.

Life is good.
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