Category: Family (page 1 of 2)

Heart of the Matter 2 – God’s Perfect Timing

In May of 2017 my life took an unexpected turn – one that in hindsight I would not trade for anything, despite the physical pain and uncertainty. At age 54 I had a heart attack – a totally unexpected event that took me and everyone around me by total surprise.

Through this heart journey, I have been drawn close to God’s heart, especially when it comes to certain insights about myself and my role in the kingdom. You can read about the amazing vision God gave me near the beginning of my journey in a previous post.

One of the most profound lessons I learned during this time was how perfect God’s TIMING really is.

It started even before I was hospitalized. I had what I shall call an ‘episode’ at my workplace. I teach secondary school and right in between classes I suddenly got a strange and intense burning in my chest and upper arms. I thought it would pass but it didn’t. Fortunately, I had a very astute educational assistant who took matters into her hands and called the principal and the emergency medical person on staff. She also arranged for my next class to be taken care of without any fuss, and I was taken to the hospital. Despite sky-rocketing blood pressure, there was no sign of a heart attack. I was told to take it easy, monitor my blood pressure and come back in one week for some different tests.

Being the kind of person who hates to bother others (not to mention I dislike hospitals) I took this in stride and went about my business for five more days – even though I had four more ‘episodes’. I figured there was no point going back to emergency each time since I was told it wasn’t a heart attack’

However, I had one particularly painful occurrence at about midnight on the Sunday which actually woke me up. I finally decided to go back to the clinic. This is where God’s perfect timing comes in. I had another episode right there in the doctor’s office and the second round of blood work confirmed a heart attack. If I hadn’t had the pain and shortness of breath right there in front of the doctor’s eyes, I might have been sent home again.

I was taken by ambulance to Dawson Creek, about an hour away, since our small town does not have the facilities to deal with overnight patients. As soon as a bed could be secured for me in Vancouver, I would sent for an angiogram to see exactly what kind of damage had been done and what the treatment would be.

Except… getting a bed in Vancouver is not as easy as it sounds.  Naturally, priorities have to be made. A man was brought in right next to me who was having THE BIG ONE! I got bumped as they took him straight to Vancouver on the next flight. In the end this was a good thing since it meant my condition was no where near as dire as his.

In the end, I was in the Dawson Creek emergency ward for eight days waiting for a bed in Vancouver, even though I was experiencing chest pain every day and couldn’t move around much. I had little else to do but read, write in my journal, and rest. God was teaching me patience- and lots of it – and also giving me much needed time to reflect on Him. During this time I began to have many dreams and visions which continued through the summer and my recovery. God was taking the time to speak to me – or perhaps more accurately, I was taking the time to listen since I had no other choice!

The long weekend was approaching and the staff was certain that I would be flying out soon. There was no guarantee that my husband could accompany me on the ‘medivac’ flight so he decided to drive to Vancouver ahead of me, (It is a fourteen hour drive.) As it turned out, I didn’t leave until the Monday so my husband had the entire long weekend to himself in Vancouver – alone. He wasn’t happy about it at first, but God knew that he needed time to relax and recharge his batteries before the stress of what was to come.  He did lots of sightseeing and nature hikes.

This is another testament to God’s timing. My husband had lost his job only a few months earlier, and although he was collecting Employment Insurance, it was a stressful thing for him. However, God knew that he was going to be needed to care for me after my surgery. Even in this, God had a plan and had everything worked out perfectly.

Once I got to Vancouver, I had an angiogram (and some very interesting revelations which I already shared). To my surprise, I needed bypass surgery. I had the angiogram on a Tuesday and apparently my surgery was scheduled for the following Tuesday.

Except… after going outside to the rooftop garden (my husband took me out in a wheelchair) I started having another ‘episode’. He managed to wheel me back into my room and who should be there right at that very moment but the surgeon. He had come to my room to tell me about the scheduled date for my surgery, but he took one look at me and said, “I’m bumping you up to first thing tomorrow!” If he hadn’t been there at that exact moment and I hadn’t been having an episode at that moment, I never would have had surgery so quickly. Again, God’s timing was amazing and absolutely perfect!

There is so much more. I could talk about the presence of my daughter, a trained doula, who just ‘happened’ to be in the Vancouver area on vacation. Her calming presence in the recovery room was a God send, especially when I woke up from surgery, disoriented and unable to breath.

Or, I could talk about God’s timing on the trip home. I got released from the hospital after only four days post surgery, but then was denied getting on the airplane. Again, God knew I probably wouldn’t have managed the flight or the time at home alone while I waited for my husband to drive back from Vancouver. Instead we together at a very slow pace. (A fourteen hour drive took us four days.) Along the way, we stopped and bought a recliner. I remembered my brother telling me that he slept in a recliner for about a month after his surgery and so we bought one. I am so glad we did! I did, indeed, sleep in it for about a month and I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise since it is almost impossible for heart surgery patients to lie down or sit up again for quite awhile after surgery. That chair was another God send!

Some of these details might seem insignificant. but believe me, each and every one was like a direct message from God, letting me know that He had EVERYTHING – and I mean EVERYTHING – under control!

Next time I plan to talk about another vision I had once I got home.

Great Expectations

2018 is the year of EXPECTATION.

I often choose a word or a phrase each year as a motivational tool to help keep me on track and this one came to me way back in October and has been reaffirmed several times through various means.

Psalm 62:5 says, My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my EXPECTATION is from Him. (KJV)

The word expectation means the act of anticipation – looking forward to something. It also has to do with probability and the likelihood that something will occur. God has birthed in me many expectations for my family, my personal wellbeing, and my desires. I am expecting God to deliver on His promises this year! At first glance this might sound selfish.

Godly expectation is not about getting stuff, however. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Expectation is about FAITH – believing God’s promises even when I don’t yet see the evidence of their fulfillment. Expectation is about TRUST as I allow God to work out the details and timing in ways that don’t always make sense to me.  Expectation is about SURRENDER – the act of intentionally laying each area of my life at Jesus feet, be it physical, mental or emotional. It’s giving up my ‘rights’ to each person, idea, or desire and putting faith and trust into action.

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” This is what the word expectation means to me for 2018. The past year, 2017, was a year of tremendous growth for me, although there were many trials physically and within my family. My word for 2017 was ‘Accountability’ and I feel God really took me to task in making me accountable to Him for my faith. It was a year of great change, much of which was painful, but which has brought about much fruit. The groundwork has been laid. Like Joshua and the children of Israel, I sense God’s call to move forward in 2018. To ADVANCE, as it were, into the promised land, with the EXPECTATION that He has great things in store.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; at the end it shall speak and not lie. though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come. It will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3 (KJV)

A Surprising Gift for Christmas

Christmas…

Excited children, twinkling lights, the smell of fresh baking…

Sweat pooling under the armpits as you  trudge on the treadmill…

RECORD SCRATCH

Okay, maybe that’s not what comes to mind for most people when they think about Christmas. But this year, it’s been part of my ‘MO’ for quite awhile now.

I’ve been faithfully attending cardiac rehabilitation for almost ten weeks now. My last session is on December 22 – just in time for Christmas. I started going back at the end of August but had some ‘setbacks’ (namely two trips to the emergency ward and more time in hospital) so ‘restarted’ in October. Since the program is not available in my community, I have been driving almost two hours one way to attend in Fort St John. Fortunately, I have three children who live there, so I’ve invited myself to stay over most weeks, and have been spending a lot of time with the grandkids. I sometimes feel as if I should just move permanently!

Kidding, of course. I am amazed at how much stronger I feel. What a gift! I jokingly say I haven’t felt this physically fit for years.

Most of all, I am grateful for the gift of life. Near death experiences will do that to you. For those that don’t know, I had a heart attack in May of this year and then had to have triple bypass surgery. Many people shrug when they hear those words – bypass surgery. It is a common procedure these days and most people know someone who has gone through it. No biggy, right?

For those of us who have experienced it, let me just say, I hope to never have to go through that again. Having your chest cut wide open and having your heart stopped so that it can be operated on, is a bit disconcerting, to say the least, no matter how ‘common’ it might be! The months of painful recovery are no picnic either. It’s why I am so amazed by the fact that I can sustain a ninety minute work-out that actually makes me sweat.

Reasonably good health is a gift not to be taken for granted. It’s the one I’m most grateful for this Christmas.

Remembering Remebrance Day

As a child, I had to sit through two Remembrance Day ceremonies. The first usually took place on Nov. 10 at my school. Hundreds of students would cram in the gym and sit quietly through the familiar reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ and the 23rd Psalm. Amazingly, everyone was able to remain still – even the normally fidgety ones – during the minute of silence. Somehow, the sense that this was something REVERENT had gotten through.

The second service took place at the Elks Hall. For some reason, this service had even more impact. It followed much the same program with the reading of ‘thee’ poem and ‘thee’ psalm, but there was something more. All the aging soldiers were there, medals jangling on their breasts as they marched in as best they could and sat in a place of honour near the front. After the playing of ‘Reveille’ by our local trumpet player came what was – and still is – perhaps the most moving aspect of all: Reading the roll call.

There is something very poignant about hearing name after name being called; all young men and women who fell defending democracy. The other thing that made my heart flutter was the fact that I recognized most of the surnames. Many of these last names were repeated during my morning attendance at school. You see, I come from a small prairie town where everyone knows everyone. These were relatives of people I knew; fallen soldiers that claimed Mossbank as their home.

Added to this was the fact that my hometown of Mossbank used to be home to an airbase during World War Two. A lot of air force veterans trained there during the war years, so anything military was kind of a big deal. After the war, most of the activity was moved to nearby Moose Jaw, a much larger and better equipped air base. (And currently still the home of the famous Canadian ‘Snow Birds’.) When I was a child we could watch for free as the Snow Birds did much of their flight training over our town, and you could still go exploring many of the abandoned hangers. They have since all been removed and the former base is now the home of the golf course.

When I moved away from Mossbank I continued to make attending a Remembrance Day service a part of my life. We moved a lot, so I’ve been at many different types of services. Most contain the same basis elements, but some seem more reverent than others. Still, I find it one of the most touching ceremonies, despite the sense of ‘ritual’ that it most often contains. I inevitably shed a tear or two, and usually go home to spend the rest of the day in reflection. One year I was able to take my children back to Mossbank for Remembrance Day. They were all a lot younger then, but I think it may have helped them understand the deep meaning that the day continues to hold for me. As we listened to the ‘Roll Call’, I think they may have recognized a name or two, as well.

May we never forget that these are not just story book heroes that we read about years later. They were real men and women who sacrificed themselves for our freedoms. No words can really express the gratitude that we owe. Thank you.

Life of Fictitious Ink

In the summer of 2013, I started down the path of setting up my own publishing company, looking to the day when the rights to  some of my own novels would revert back to me. With baby steps, I went through the process of setting up my business, getting a licence, and registering my publishing company – FICTITIOUS INK.

In 2014 I published a little ‘test’ book called LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: ADVICE AND REFLECTIONS ON NAVIGATING THE ROAD OF LIFE.  The book was based on a speaking engagement I did at a women’s retreat, and I thought it would serve nicely as a giveaway.

I also decided to test myself further, and publish a children’s book – THE SLEEPYTOWN EXPRESS.  This was a very personal project, as I wanted to publish it as a tribute to my late mother, who often sang Haven Gillespie’s beloved song to us as children. I started painting the illustrations shortly after she passed away in 2007, but it took several years and much time getting copyright permission etc, before the book would be a reality.

In 2016, three years after getting my business licence, I decided it was time to publish something more substantial. I had learned a few things about formatting, various software options, and other best practices, and had the next perfect ‘test’ book in mind. I’d received the rights back to my NEIGHBOURS Series, so republished these as a  set of serialized ebooks along with a complete volume in both ebook format and paperback.  It was my biggest publishing effort to date. It basically took up most of that summer, but it was well worth the time and steep learning curve it took to get this book the way I wanted it.

Somehow, in the busyness of that summer, I also got the idea for a little prayer journal which I put together called THIRTY DAYS OF TARGETED PRAYER: A JOURNALING TOOL TO BOOST YOUR PRAYER COMMITMENT.  Again, my motivation was rather personal. I am a voracious ‘journaler’ and often ‘pray’ while doing so. I wanted a systematic way to pray for other people and this is what I came up with. (By the way, I’ve been using it myself ever since.)

The learning continues and in 2017  I reformatted and republished THE SLEEPYTOWN EXPRESS as a hardcover book, which is so much nicer than the paperback. I also published two children’s books as class projects, writing and illustrating the story books with my Art 7 and 8 students.  HOCKEY IN THE WILD and FIRE BEAR are the results.

The second in the NEIGHBOURS Series also came into being with another set of serialized novellas and a complete version called KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS.  And I finally got around to the impetus for this whole experiment, which was to republish my own work when I got the rights back. My first published novel got revised and republished under a new name: CONSPIRACY OF BONES (And the Beat Goes On)

 

When I actually take the time to write it all down, I feel pretty satisfied. Sometimes it is easy to feel like you aren’t getting anything accomplished, but I can see steady growth and forward movement. I have plenty of plans for Fictitious Ink for the coming years.

Check out the FI website here for more cool photos.

 

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