Recovery Week

(read "so I had surgery" here) I have recovered for the most part! I still can't participate in tickle fights, Indian leg wrestling, or bungee jumping. Nor will I be able to stick my luggage in the overhead department on the plane this Thursday (say whaaaatttt! You read me, I am going to Canada!). BUT! I can slice tomatoes again, make cookies (which I made last night), walk around without breathing like a chain smoker, and I can almost wear normal pants. My stitches are almost healed! I must say though, my belly button looks weird. The other night, I asked Loren how a surgeon would sew a belly button back on. We hadn't seen it yet since it had the steri-strips on. Well today, I took them off. And it looks a little lumpy. It is kind of odd and it was bleeding. (TMI? It's a blog so everything is TMI) Anyways, not sure if I should get that checked out.

Last week, I think my heart did some major hiking through the Cascade mountains. I mean, major. Like sweating bullets, weeping, and jumping through miracles. The Lord Jesus is good and I have nothing else to say. Well, I do, but that is all I should say. One of my closest friends, Heather, literally scrubbed my bathroom. When I say the word "literally," it is because I cannot even believe it. I was blessed so deeply that I can't even put words to it. I should stop typing, because words do not give the love justice that I felt. I could not help but pray favor over her, over and over and over again. Thank you, Jesus. A ridiculous amount of grace happened inside my heart..whatever that means, it is what it is. Jesus did some work and I will give one small glimpse:

Sometimes Jesus smacks ya right in the soul through the unexpected. Through the lady you've known for a month and only seen 3 separate times. The lady who has the busiest of busy lives. Someone you would least expect to even care a centimeter about you.

Her words pierced my being like a jagger. And I say that knowing full well I sound like a drama queen. But it's true: a jagger bringing lots and lots of blood out of my heart only to make it clean. We were simply conversing about whether or not to phone the on-call nurse, asking why it still hurts to breathe. Is it possible I have another PE? Things like that.  I excused it by explaining that I have become an overly cautious & paranoid patient, that it could wait until tomorrow. (Which, I didn't have another blood clot. But, it was a very valid thing to worry about). And these were her 1st words that penetrated my being:

"You are worth loving. You are worth being treated with respect and honor. You are valuable. You are cherished."

I have said these words (and been told these words) to a multitude of girls on so many occasions that I had somehow & impossibly forgotten that they were true for me as well as every other child on this earth. These words that I so often speak so directly into people's hearts, they ring true for me too. And yet, I seem to forget so easily.

She then said, "Natalie (put your name here!) you are allowed to see yourself with those eyes."

This conversation seemed to be coursing on a much deeper level than a simple call to the doc. A level I had no intention of reaching on that night and in that way.

I responded with thanks and: "These are the times Jesus reminds me of His love in the most intimate ways. When I am physically broken and completely weak."

Her 3rd sentence that pierced me was this: "I was much like you. It is hard to wrap your heart around that simple conclusion of self worth and allowing yourself to be weak and vulnerable. It took my body [being physically broken] to turn my silly heart & mind directly towards God."

These things, this pain, is not in vain. From blood clots to surgeries for random unknown benign lumps to wave crashes to ATV accidents to concussions from headbutting a girl (it was an accident) to so many more a week of recovery from a laparoscopy... they were each used to direct my attention to Jesus. To remind me that when I am weak, He is strong. That I am loved, though I can give nothing.

I know there could be worse things happening to me. Far worse. Cancer, paralysis, death, liver failure, all sorts of junk. All sorts. But I wonder, for those people who have it worse or have it the same or simply have a bad day, (we all have those), are you able to rest in His presence? To rest and know that you are wonderfully made? That YOU are worth it. YOU are valuable. YOU are so deeply cherished. I wish I could look in every single persons eyes and tell them this. Let it penetrate their core like it does mine. You must know this. We must tell each other this. This. Is. Truth.

"With no effort or manufacturing of joy, your beautiful presence and beautiful spirit brings the joy of Jesus. It is not by your strength and it is nothing that you have to worry about creating in your own strength." But it only happens when you rest in His love and let that be enough..only when that happens can we be glorifying for God. Even through our sickness and injury, when we are physically broken (I mean downright stuck in bed for a week or even for months) and immune to strength. When we feel as though we literally cannot go on. That is when He can be and will be strong. So let Him be.

This, I am relearning.

Someone was taking selfies on my phone.

I am seriously dreading the death of all of this life and beauty in my home! Thank you, friends!

Surgery for Endometriosis.

20131001-192924.jpg Last night Jesse & Daniel brought me some amazing Paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I have one left. I must have enjoyed them?


Yesterday, the alarm went off at 6:11 am so I could shower & put on some mascara before surgery. Loren was so confused as to why I would need to "doll up" for surgery, and I explained that I was going to be feeling pretty yucky, ugly, and gross so the least I could do is have on some mascara. We arrived at the surgery center at 7 am, got all checked in & precious Loren was coffee-less as well as breakfastless. The sacrifices this man makes for me are countless.

They led us to my little stall of a room: you know those "rooms" that are made of curtains? I changed into the best hospital gown I've ever worn. I would say I've worn my fair share of hospital gowns, and this one was BOMB. It was purple & not made of thin cotton cloth with holes in all the wrong places. No. It was soft & purple and the best part was this: there was a hole that they plugged a heater pump into! Say whaaaatt. I know right? Wish I had Loren take a photo. It was danged sweet.

The next thing I know I am peeing in a cup to make sure I am not pregnant, which I am not.

They then begin strapping some sweet astronaut looking leg warmers to my calves! Hooked up to this machine. I have this weird blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden and so, lucky me! I got to have leg massagers leading up to, during, and after surgery! It was pretty sweet. I also got a shot of Heparin in my shoulder - which is a blood thinner. And man! Did I bruise.

To add to the already blessed morning, Loren was cracking all sorts of jokes. We started with just 1 nurse checking me in and soon enough had 4 or 5 just standing around laughing at my husband. What a champ he is, always bringing a light heart to situations.

The nurse who checked me in brought back child hood memories. Starting at the age of 6, I had my first of 7 surgeries (ears, adenoids, benign lumps, now this). I won't forget my first surgery: I was just a wee one, freezing in the thin, cold, cotton robe with holes in all the wrong places. As the nurse stuck my hand with my very first IV, I remember her calming me down and talking to me so kindly. She planted a seed in my heart: a seed of desire to be a nurse, to calm people down when they are most scared, to remind them it will be okay, to tell them they are safe. Yesterday, Nurse Ruth was awesome! She totally calmed any nerves that I had, she laughed and we joked about God knows what. I just remember how light hearted she made me feel. And I loved her. I should write her a thank you card. (have you ever had a mean nurse? I have. She was so mean).

The anesthesiologist was simply a gift. He was like Loren (but not as amazing): your above average goof ball, trying to make light anything that may be stressful. Lucky for me, I was already lighthearted so I fully enjoyed his presence.

After what seemed like 1700 hours but was really just two hours, I was finally being wheeled into the freezing op-room. As I scooted my bootum onto the work table, the awesome anesthesiologist pumped some morphine into me which knocked me out cold before he even put the sleep-meds in. Next thing I know, I'm back in the "curtain room" where I started, with Loren talking to Nurse Ruth about where my pharmacy is.

As I doze in and out of sleep, I am very aware that I need to use the restroom but had nothing near the capacity to do so. About an hour and a half later, Nurse Ruth comes back asking what I can eat. Not the soup, the crackers, the anything :( it all was gluten-enhanced. So you know what she did? She downright shared her personal apple with me. She even cut it up. What a Nurse! She deserves a purple star. So many blessings showering over me.

Loren is such a babe. He helped me get dressed then wheeled me out to the car. Somehow he magically already picked up all the meds & whatnots that I needed. We get home & he basically carries me inside. I can't tell you what a champion this man is. There are roses on the table.

I lay down & about 8 minutes later I hear a knock on the door. Loren brings in this beautiful bouquet of flowers in this darling little planter. He reads the card. Third word in I knew it was from Haley and started weeping. Maybe from the drugs? I was quite emotional. Either way, that mama is too good to me.


Basically I then slept for hours.

Then. Evening rolls around & I cannot tell you the work God begins doing in my heart. To be brutally honest, sometimes I have a hard time accepting Gods love. It's a hardened heart thing - a pride thing. Where I don't want to be imperfect & feeble. I don't want to constantly make mistakes. I don't want to be weak. I want to be perfect & worthy of Gods love. But I'm not. No one is. We need grace. And lately, it's been a hard season of humbling myself to remember that I am just not good enough. That Jesus loves me, not for anything I've ever done, but simply because I exist. Because He has created me and is still creating me.

Well last night he sure hounded that into my heart. Through my husband, through the nurses, through Jesse & Daniel, through Haley, through Heather, through Mike, through Kaitlyn & Jeff. Then today through my mom & Elmer & Ari & Mary. He showed me how much he loves me through their love. Through their provision of friendship and food. Of care. I was literally a pile of organs covered with stitches & skin and some clothes, doing nothing for any of them. Heck; I was probably annoying with my moaning & smelly odor. I can't even do the dishes or walk standing straight: I am pretty pathetic. And yet, they loved me. They cared for me. They prayed with me. It made no sense. Just like the love of the Father. It makes no sense but it's there & it's real & it's proven.

I cannot help but praise & thank our God for the church family and friends He has blessed me with. I am so grateful, so blessed, so honored to be a part of His work here.

Check out these beauties:




We are so loved, folks.

I am most reminded of that when I am completely weak, physically, and literally have to depend on others to survive. Thank you, Lord, for humbling & painful moments such as these.



PS. I had some Endometriosis removed! Yay for doctors and medicine.

Paleo update

So today reaches 1 month of eating Paleo! It has been an adventure of joy & excitement, a bit of crying (I make Loren's lunches and crave that cheese), and some disappointment. I have eaten so much bacon and about 10 dozen eggs. That's the truth.

Unfortunately, it did not fix my "intestinal issues" as we had all hoped. However, I do feel lighter, I don't cough all night, and I don't have searing sharp pains after each meal! I also don't feel AS bloated AS constantly. However, my intestines (sorry folks, just bein real here) are still very...picky? Irritable? Touchy? Let's just say, they don't like to "let things go."

I must say, I was so blessed by my church family & friends. Everyone made Paleo dishes for me and encouraged me. It was so cool!

As the weeks of eating Paleo went by I was becoming more and more discouraged. Not allowing grains, dairy, additives, legumes, or corn into your diet is tough when your favorite meals are tacos, pizza, and chicken Alfredo! Don't forget apple pie made by a very English woman in our church. Wow! Such a delight. I kept telling myself it would be worth it if I got healthy & "normal," if you know what I mean! I am feeling more healthy all around except know (the inestines. )

So many people have issues like this. I encourage you to remember that you're not weird! It is frustrating, yes! And real! You're not making it up. But we cannot let it consume us, becoming our focus, which is so easy. If you're like me, you've been attempting various things at any cost to fix it for years. (I've only been trying to tackle it for four). Here are some things you've probably tried:

Flax seed in everything eatable, caster oil, kombucha, tons of water, tons of coffee, no coffee, tons of fruits & vegetables, tons of fiber, not too much fiber, exercise a lot, exercise a little, exercise in general, apple cider vinegar, taking ex lax (I don't recommend this), taking docusate, taking a fiber laxative, chowing down tons of prunes, drinking prune juice, drinking aloe Vera juice (so gross), drinking MOMS (I don't recommend this), adding mirilax daily, taking a vegetable laxative, eating gluten free for months, eating Paleo, the list goes on. And it's exhausting.

Through it all, I have attempted & failed & attempted again to remember that Jesus is enough. That even if I feel bogged down with discouragement (this comes from my own brain) & discomfort, I am still able make disciples! To love God & those around me. But I must fight the urge to make my identity "unhealthy, pained, tired." I must take my focus off of self, which is difficult to do. I must make Jesus Christ my sole identity. My focus. Find joy through it all. Believe me, there is much to rejoice in, here in Corvallis! I read in Psalms two days ago something like this: My health may fail and my soul will grow weak, but my heart is always strengthened by God.

--- Another thought was that I had Endometriosis! The idea was that it was all over my intestines & colon, preventing anything from "moving" normally. So today I had a laparoscopy!

We can chat about that later. It was quite an experience with "leg warmers", memories from childhood, and an amazing husband!

20130930-173817.jpg Just some delicious brownies to cheer the mood! These weren't horrible!!

20130930-190342.jpg Absolutely blessed by the constant support of my husband!

We DO Have Hope.

As I sit here in Coffee Culture, I am thankful once again by the profound evidence that I am loved by a God bigger than everything known to man. That I have been created and can trust my Creator. My ache to distribute this knowledge to those around me, those in this city, and all the people on this earth has deepened once again. Two ladies sit at a table to my left. As they chat, I cannot help but take on the awkward eavesdropping role. (I forgot my headphones). One of the ladies is doing all of the talking, as it commonly happens. She is talking in depth about her back pain, how it must be related to stress and anxiety. Her son is young and unhealthy, "he loves bread a little too much." (Her words not mine). "I wish I had a guide book. A good one. I wish I could let go and trust that it was going to be okay." (Also her words). I cannot help but notice her tone of voice. The words I have heard many a time. But the tone of voice is one of helplessness. Hopelessness. She speaks of having no hope. No one to trust. As I sip my latte, I read King David's words "But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?" 

I am thankful for the hope and the confidence I have in our God. He is bigger than my trouble and He will grow me through them. He rescues us and is our comforter. We have an unending hope and we access to peace. If we ask and choose to receive. Don't forget that today. And if you have a chance, naturally share that with someone today in gentle boldness.