Accidental Faith

Accidents happen in a split second- unannounced and definitely not welcomed, thus the term “accident.”  I was watching the clock wondering where Eddie was. It was the last football game of the season before playoffs and we needed to drop Olivia off at a friend’s house before heading to Gilroy to play the rival team of Christopher High. I had our team sweatshirts and personalized jerseys (Margo #52) packed, along with my Ugg boots and a thermos of coffee.

Ed tends to run a bit late which is probably why he drives so fast! Hah!

Finally, I heard his truck out in the driveway and then I heard a dirt bike heading down our road. THEN…the next sound I heard was a loud raucous and I thought, “Did Ed just crash?”

I quickly dismissed the idea and continued impatiently waiting for him to walk in the door and GET READY TO GO.

Well, he DID “walk” in rather slowly, limping along. He had several open wounds and his whole right side was BRUISED.

“I think my shoulder is busted,” Ed stated.

I knew EXACTLY what he was feeling: Several years ago I fell (belly-flopped and bounced would more accurately describe it) in front of the castle at Disneyland and almost ruined our whole vacation. (You can read about that here.)

It’s this terrible feeling of knowing you need medical attention, but not being willing to miss the exciting event about to take place.

Ed decided he could take some ibuprofen and just keep his shoulder as still as possible during the game and figure out medical help the next day. I had the SAME plan at Disneyland! (Part 2 of my falling story.)   Of course a year later I had to have shoulder surgery, but now is not the time to reminisce about all THAT!

He explained he had been on the dirt bike for less than a minute, taking it for a quick spin to see if the tire he had repaired was working fine. The accident made no sense! He wasn’t being reckless or speeding (shocking, I know). The bike simply came out from under him.

Ed is SUPER tough and basically NEVER complains. He was trying not to wince in pain as he got ready for the game and then again in the car whenever I turned a corner.

At the game, he insisted on carrying our chairs and backpack while I was loaded down with the blanket. Hah! Talk about the complete opposite of me. I tend to let everyone know I’m suffering (ahem… starting this blog) while Ed prefers to suffer in silence.

We made it through the game with an exciting victory for the Mustangs (although Ed’s cheering was a bit subdued) and we agreed that he would go to urgent care in the morning.

Separated shoulder. AC Joint separation to be exact.

Not the best diagnosis for a building contractor.

He came home in a sling with directions to rest the shoulder for 2-4 weeks.

We had one of those why-does-it-seem-everything-keeps-going-wrong moments. We are both so ready to never repeat the fall of 2016. It has been a season of sadness, surgery, stress and brokenness. Many of our recent struggles I haven’t been able to share, but life has been HARD.

BUT… here’s the thing. My faith is not based on my circumstances. The foundation of my faith is Jesus. It’s not an event, an experience or even an answered prayer— it’s in the person of Jesus (Andy Stanley Who is the Author of Your Faith).

These hard things don’t define who I am in Christ. I WANT my prayers answered for SURE… but even more than that… I want Jesus.

He is walking with my family and me in extraordinary ways.

He offers grace and mercy for the journey and that is more than enough.

He is with me. He loves me. And… (I realize this next phrase appears in pretty much every post, but it is my bottom line)…

I TRUST HIM.

Ed’s shoulder is slowly healing. He has not taken any time off work and has many pain-filled days, yet never complains. (The doctor stated that he won’t damage it any more by working; it will just take a lot longer to heal).

My family is slowly healing in so many ways. We have many pain-filled days and we are striving to not complain.

And although accidents are unplanned and can happen in a split second, there’s nothing accidental about our faith that sustains us as we keep our eyes on the One who loves us so very much.

Hebrews 12:2-3  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Disneyland Trip (Part 2)

Cradling my injured arm, we slowly made our way through the castle into Fantasyland.  Eddie gingerly led me to a brick wall where I could sit and evaluate the damage.  Meanwhile, he placed the three kids in line for Peter Pan, leaving Jess in charge.

I could not stop crying from the pain and the realization that I had potentially ruined our vacation.  “Who falls at Disneyland?  What is wrong with me?” I wailed at Eddie.  My arm was almost entirely immobile.  We weighed our options.  I could have it checked at the Disney first aid office, where I was sure they would send me to the hospital.  Or… I could go directly to the hospital where it would take hours, and our day would be shot.  OR… I could just tough it out, staying at Disneyland as planned.

I insisted on the latter.  I positioned my arm as if it was in an imaginary sling.  Our pace slowed WAY down.  We STROLLED through the park, appreciating each sure step, often yielding to others.  If Olivia wanted a picture with a character, we stopped.  If Jessica and Cory indicated interest in a ride or attraction, we did it.  Throughout the day I downed a lot of Advil, spending much time patiently waiting for the others.  My aggression had been completely subdued.

Upon returning to the hotel, I decided to call my friend who is somewhat connected to the medical field.  Well, okay… her mom, sister and brother are all nurses, AND her closest friend is a science teacher!  What more could you want?  As we talked, we determined that I had not broken anything.  It had to be a soft tissue injury.  That was reassuring to me.  I felt I could finish out our trip, relying on Advil and ice to get me through.

To add insult to injury, it was my right arm and shoulder that took the brunt of my fall.  Being right-handed, this left me quite handicapped to perform even the most mundane, simplest tasks.  Changing my clothes proved to be the most difficult challenge.  Painful!  Brushing my teeth, blow-drying my hair, eating – anything that involved raising my right arm the tiniest fraction of an inch, brought unbearable pain.

Back from vacation, I daily analyzed if I should call the doctor.  Many people told me that I could possibly improve with time, however, after three weeks of NO improvement, I FINALLY made the appointment.  My rotator cuff was damaged.  I was to start physical therapy, with surgery as a back-up plan if I did not respond to treatment.  The good news was I already knew an excellent PT who had recently seen Ed, Jessica and Cory (THAT story is for another blog).

As I arrived for the first appointment, the teasing was in full swing in regards to yet another Margo coming through the door.  I humbly shared the story of my “accident”, giving everyone permission to tease me about it.  THEN, it became really comical when I had to explain my previous “injury” to the same arm due to ABS… that is… Angry Birds Syndrome (refer to my blog post, “Birds”).  I must admit, it would be nice to have more honorable injuries!

Slowly my arm has responded to therapy, with surgery no longer part of the discussion.  It has been over 3 months since the infamous castle belly flop, and I am still not a hundred percent recovered.  Recently, I read a quote by Beth Moore which said, “Better to be broken than to snap.”  God seems to be taking me on little practice runs of brokenness.  He is teaching me to yield to Him in every area of life.  I must be a reluctant learner because the “opportunities” just keep coming.

There are three short verse in I Thessalonians 5 in which God gives three keys to successfully living through or with brokenness:

Verse 16   “Be joyful always.”  (that’s the WHOLE verse)

Verse 17   “Pray continually.”  (Whole verse, again)

Verse 18   “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I have to simultaneously do all three because I cannot have joy unless I pray, which leads to giving thanks which is ultimately an expression of my faith.  I trust God with everything – especially my broken parts… whether physical, emotional or spiritual.

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, had a great quote in his book “Finding Home.”  He stated, “The purpose of pain is often to develop our character, yet we run from it because… pain is the gift that nobody wants.  I love that!

“Lord, please break me before I snap.  Use the gift of pain to grow deep spiritual roots in my life.  I will be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.  Oh… and one more thing… while I know that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, maybe we can do these life lessons in joy somewhere else… Just a thought…!!!   I love you Lord!!

My Disneyland Trip (Part One)

The lines were incredibly long to enter the park.  It was our second day at Disneyland, and the crowd had doubled in size.  Why was everyone here on a Monday?!  I began weaving my family in and out of position to have the best advantage.  Strollers were everywhere, along with all kinds of motorized contraptions for those needing mobility assistance.

I had a plan:  once through the gates, make a bee-line for Fantasyland, specifically, the Peter Pan ride.  Beat the crowds and check it off the list!  I relayed the strategy to my troops.  We were on a mission, and they had their marching orders.

We were in.  Scanning the mob, I gave the command, “Go to the right and stay focused!  Walk fast!”  Goofy was signing autographs off to the side of the Main Street loop, catching 5-year-old Olivia’s attention.  “Not now.  We can look for him later.  Keep moving!”  Main Street was shoulder-to-shoulder people with the horse-drawn cable-like-cars honking their way through the masses.

The tension in me was mounting.  The happiest place on earth was quickly becoming the most stressful place on earth.  I was painstakingly keeping step with my 15-year-old daughter, Jessica… zig-zagging our way through the multitude.  My aggression was now leading to some mouthy comments, as I began to mock the funny, buggy characteristics of those we were zooming past.

As Main Street widened to the circular plaza, the crowd thinned out.  My intensity, however, continued to escalate, realizing we were in the lead of this imaginary race to Peter Pan.  Approaching the castle, my stride was almost to a jog.  As Ed wheeled Olivia over to the castle walkway flattened out for strollers… Jess, Cory and I took the more direct route.  A simple curb stood between me and the home-stretch.

In my haste, the toe of my bright pink Columbia shoe caught the top of the curb.  Not to be overly dramatic, but time stood still as my mind contemplated the inevitable.  I was going down.

Falling as an adult has to be one of the most embarrassing events that can happen.  Suspended in mid-air, I was actually thinking about this.  Who would notice?  How quickly could I get up?  Would a crowd surround me?  Laughter?  Pain?  “Stop daydreaming and save yourself,” was the next thought screaming through my brain.  No such luck.

Hard doesn’t even begin to describe my fall.  I hit the pavement and LITERALLY bounced three times.  It was an ugly series of belly flops in front of this most beautiful castle.  Wow.  Really?? … I REALLY just did that?? … Yep!!

My family gawked at me.  Stunned.  Mom fell.

Eddie quickly raced over to help.  The way I landed, he expected my face to be covered in blood.

Caring more about my dignity than the excruciating pain, I hopped to my feet.  Looking into Eddie’s eyes I lamented, “My shoulder is busted.  I know I’m going to need surgery involving pins and screws.  I can’t move it.”

Mission aborted.

I Thessalonians 5:16  “Be joyful always.”

(to be continued…)

Chemo Card

My emotions were brimming over as we walked through the entrance to the happiest place on earth.  I was on the brink of one of those hysterical, out of control cries of rejoicing.  We were here.  We had set our sights on the magic kingdom as a point of celebration.  Disneyland with my family was where I wanted to go when chemotherapy was all over.

It had been a difficult summer and fall.  Eddie and I had tried to find many ways to laugh and just lighten the load.  He had accused me many times of “playing the chemo card,” to get my way.  It seemed to be working for me!  Part of my “playing the chemo card” was in getting what I call “chemo prizes.”  These were several significant gifts from Ed, beginning with an iphone at the start of my treatment.  In fact a friend of mine very wisely stated that I should receive six chemo prizes since I had to have six chemo treatments.

Disneyland was my fourth chemo prize.  I wanted to stay at the Disneyland Hotel for the first time, and have a memorable family vacation.  We all needed something to look forward to in order to make the ending of a very long season.  Life is hard and when there is reason to celebrate we should seize those moments.

Esther 8:16 says, “…it was a time of happiness, joy, gladness and honor.” Our trip was all that and more.  We had a great time together.  Everyone enjoyed the rides, shows, parade, fireworks and especially the snow.  It was life-giving to getaway, realizing all we had made it through.  God had been with each one of us in a very real and special way.

Psalm 40:1-3  “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

As I walked around the amusement park all week wearing my “I’m celebrating” button, it truly was a happy occasion.  Lots of laughter accompanied us.  This was a wonderful chemo prize!  And… if I play my (chemo) cards just right, I still have two more prizes to go.  Watch out, Eddie!

(This event took place Dec. 2009)