Category: Life (page 1 of 7)

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.

Heart of the Matter

2017 was a milestone year for me in many ways. I went through some truly amazing experiences – some of them very tough, to say the least – but I don’t know that I have ever experienced such a profound sense of the presence of God, either. Not the least of these was having a heart attack and subsequent open heart surgery. Through that time, God met with me in miraculous ways. This month, I plan to share some of my story – things  that I have not shared with very many people yet, for they are too intimate.  Almost unbelievable…

But February, the ‘heart month’, seems like the right time to ‘open up’ about my open heart surgery. I pray that readers will find encouragement and renewed faith through the things I want to share.

  *     *     * 

During my time in hospital, God began to give me many dreams and visions. Fortunately, I wrote them all down. While waiting in the Dawson Creek emergency ward for a bed in Vancouver, I had a dream where God told me that I had four ‘blockages’ in my spiritual life that needed to be dealt with – fear, doubt, anxiety and pride. I later wrote in my journal that I felt God was using the metaphor of my heart troubles to help me grow spiritually. I didn’t think it would go much beyond the metaphor, but I was grateful for the word and took it to heart.

Several days later, in the hospital in Vancouver, God gave me a very clear vision. This time it was a ‘picture’ of my own heart, but emblazoned on it, following the line of clearly delineated arteries, were four words: Fear, Doubt, Anxiety, and Pride.  Fear was a major artery that ran laterally across the top of the heart with Anxiety and Doubt coming off of Fear in a perpendicular fashion. Pride was off to the right by itself, not connected to the other three. Each word was bright – glowing with an inner light that pulsed with the beat of my heart.

The picture was so clear that I had to draw it. It was definitely a confirmation of the previous dream. However, I honestly do not know whether I was asleep, awake, in a trance, or drugged. All I know is, I saw this picture unmistakably and clearly and almost immediately drew a picture of it in my journal.

But here comes the kicker. The medical team performed an angiogram to determine if there were any blockages in my heart and to help them determine a course of treatment. It turns out I had four major blockages and would need by-pass surgery. Patients are given a printed ‘map’ of their own heart showing the blockages. When I saw the picture, I was shocked.

Angiogram side-by-side with the drawing from my ‘vision’

The blockages were in exactly the same places as in my vision! I had a large artery running laterally near the top that was 90% blocked which coincided exactly with ‘Fear’. Branching off perpendicularly downward were two more blocked arteries – exactly where Anxiety and Doubt had been. ( ‘Anxiety’ was 100% blocked and ‘Doubt’ was 70% blocked.) Then off to the right hand side, all by itself, was another 70% blockage – right where ‘Pride’ had been positioned.

God was surely speaking to me, confirming in me that this physical condition also had spiritual significance. I was amazed by the clarity and the power of this revelation, yet His peace was also so strong that I immediately felt a submission in my spirit to His will.

I look at this picture often. It reminds me that God is real when doubt tries to arise. It reminds me that He knows everything and has a plan. It reminds me that there is a connection between the spirit world and the physical world. It reminds me that He is interested in every minute detail of my life.

And finally – and perhaps most importantly – it reminds me that all FEAR, DOUBT, ANXIETY, and PRIDE have been by-passed in my life. I went through tremendous physical pain to get rid of these negative characteristics and I’m not going to let them take over again.

I’ll be telling more of my story in future posts. If you think someone would benefit from this story, please share!

Lessons from a Dead Owl

This secluded stretch of highway about thirty kilometres from my home is deceptive in its serenity. Despite the fact that there are few travellers in motorized vehicles, there are plenty of travellers of another variety. One has to be on guard for moose, elk, deer and other four footed animals.

But owls? Who would think that an owl could be a hazzard?

Well, apparently it’s true. A particular owl reportedly liked to swoop across the highway right in front of oncoming traffic. It spooked both my husband and my daughter on more than one occasion as it came hurtling without notice across their line of vision. It was like he was playing his own little game of ‘chicken’.

Except he tried it one too many times – and lost.

My husband was travelling home one evening at around nine pm. Without warning the owl swooped in front of the truck and – SMASH – hit the windshield square in the driver’s side. As you can see, the entire drivers’ side was smashed. Glass sprayed my husband’s face and ended up all over the floor and seat. After his heart settled back to a normal rhythm, he stopped and picked up the owl – dead on impact.

He managed to drive the rest of the way home by leaning to the right and looking out the passenger side. Like I said, there is very little traffic, so he didn’t have to worry too much about oncoming cars, just keeping it between the ditches. Owls are a protected species so he reported the incident as soon as he got home.

It made me think about the lesson to be learned. That owl was deliberately playing a dangerous game that ended up in tragedy. Sure it was fun for awhile. Thrilling, even.

We might not be engaging in overtly dangerous behaviour, but there are things, I’m sure, in each of our lives that will lead to death if we don’t stop to consider the consequences.

There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death. Provers 14: 12

The Spirituality of Dusting

I like a clean house.

Sometimes, while working full time, I’ve hired a housekeeper to keep things up to snuff if I don’t have time. After I had heart surgery, I was unable to clean for myself at all, so we hired a housekeeper for several months straight.

The first time I did my own dusting again, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Enjoyed dusting, you say? Yes. In fact, I found it rather therapeutic and also surprisingly spiritual.

My husband and I are what could be called ‘collectors’. We’ve collected art, antiques, and interesting knick-knacks from our many moves. As I dusted each item that first time, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the person who gave it to us or where we lived at that time. It brought back many memories and I found myself praying for people I had long forgotten about, or thanking the Lord for certain circumstances and situations.

It’s become a habit. Instead of seeing dusting as a chore, I now try to look forward to it as a way to pray for people and circumstances. Who knew dusting could be good for the soul?

Soapstone carvings and an original print from our time in Churchill, MB

Every picture, knick-knack, and antique has a story.

A German Bible from my husband’s grandfather; a book of poetry by Thomas Moore given to me by my mother dating back to the 1850’s; ironwood carvings from Mexico reminding us of our time at an orphanage there; woven bookmarks from a friend’s missionary trip to Guatemala; northern lights photographs from Churchill, MB and Fort Smith, NWT… and more…

How Fifteen Year Olds Helped My Writing Schedule

This is a real story about something that happened to me last week. Let me preface it with a bit of background.

I am EXPECTING this year to be successful in many areas.  One of those areas is my writing career. I took the time on January 1 to make a very detailed and specific daily schedule for myself in hopes of increasing my productivity.

And then I started watching a TV marathon…

Argh! I’ve threatened more than once to unplug the darn thing (and probably should). Instead of beating myself up too much, I determined to move forward, forgetting the week of wasted evenings.

Except, the struggle to get up at the appointed time is real! Strike two!

As my return to work as a secondary school teacher approaches, a new solution presented itself. Part of the preparation involves what’s called ‘work hardening’ – going in on a voluntary basis for short stints to acclimate myself back into the environment.

I went in for eighty minutes and, well… it was terrible! (See the picture at the top? It wasn’t like that…)

Last year’s Grade 9s hadn’t really matured that much… The crashing of lockers during break. The raging teenage hormones. The overall chaos! I’m experiencing tightness in my chest and shortness of breath just thinking about it!

When I go back in February, I will be returning on a half time basis. I can choose which two of my regular four classes I want to teach.  Originally it made sense to me to go in during the afternoons. The detailed schedule I’d worked out for myself in paragraph two had me up early to get some writing done and then off to school after lunch. But that meant taking on English 9 followed by a mixed group of Drama students.  After that first experience, it occurred to me that Grade 9 might not be the best option when I had the choice of a much more mature group of English 12 students first thing in the morning. The only problem with that scenario is, I really want to take the D block Drama class, but that would leave several hours in between teaching assignments.

Then it hit me. If I went in first thing in the morning to teach English 12, I would have three and a half glorious hours to do my writing before it was time to teach Drama. Not only would I avoid the Grade 9s (the Barenaked Ladies didn’t make a song about it for nothing… just sayin!) I would also be forced to get up early each day instead of frittering my time away. Perfect!

Funny how a possible negative can turn into something positive. Thanks to last year’s Grade 9s for helping me see the light!

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