the current situation

Howdy. Well, it’s that time again. Another blog post. And praise the Lord, I have good news: I am feeling SO much better. Oh man, who knew getting off the couch is so ridiculously exciting?!!?! A. MAY. ZAZING. For the past couple of weeks, even!

I must first share this pic though, because it’s too happy not to! Before I was up to doing much or driving, my parents dropped me off to visit a friend who was also pretty bed-bound recovering from surgery. It was sooo lovely to just chat, and see her adorable twins! They enjoyed us for a few minutes, then screamed because I held them back [by their ankles] from leaping off the bed. So their daddy came and got them…

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And for anyone wondering what the heck a herniated disc is, here’s a pic that I think explains it well. And to the people who tell me “at least it’s not ruptured”, that’s the same thing. But even as a nurse, I didn’t have an excellent understanding of the term until I was told it was the cause of my pain and I researched it. Mine, of course, is herniated to the right.

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At one of my appointments, my doctor asked if I’d been exercising [lately]. My response: “not even a little bit”. I’d been under the impression that I was supposed to mainly be resting, since not resting had not helped before… I do have to admit that he had previously told me I was supposed to be doing some walking. However, at that time and still, I could hardly swagger to the bathroom and then kitchen for sustenance. I had to think and group trips, not only to and from the kitchen but within it! No going back and forth and back and forth from the counter to the fridge and pantry [maybe four feet, it’s not that big…]. I needed to do and get everything in one trip, then swagger back to the couch immediately. Because it hurt so dang bad. I’d sit up long enough to eat, usually, and then be down for the count. Anyway, my lovely doc did not like my response. He wanted me moving. “Do you have access to a pool?”, he asked. “Not really…” “Well, try to get to a pool and walk in there. The water takes your weight off the leg.”

Fine. I’ll try. Our closest pool is 40 minutes away, and I could hardly stand a car ride, never mind drive myself. My parents work in town, but that meant getting up early [worst time of day for me, pain and otherwise] and hanging out at my mom’s work [55+] or figuring something out… So on Easter Monday [almost a week after my second injection, which did help some] my Mommy didn’t have to work, and she took me to public swim. She hot tubbed and checked on me way too often while I walked back and forth in the deep end, and even went past where I could walk and treaded water for a while. And though walking back and forth by myself was pretty boring, I had NO PAIN!!! WHAT?! That’s right. Once I was in water up to my waist, no pain. We even walked around in the lazy river, both with and against the current, and it didn’t hurt. I took unreasonably long to use the ladder getting out, but being in the water was amazing. And pretty exciting to move again.

So I looked at the pool schedule again, trying to figure out how to best get to water. Possibly over-ambitious as usual, I noticed that they offered deep and shallow water aquasize classes. Since walking back and forth alone during public swim was painfully boring, I decided I should try aquasize. The deep water class would obviously be less impact for my leg, so I figured I’d try that. My lovely mom dropped me off at the pool before work [the deep class is also the earliest one, which is more convenient for being dropped off] and my friend was supposed to pick me up after. I gingerly got myself into the water {with my lovely floaty belt on and aquasize “weights”}, and started moving around. Guess what? It didn’t hurt!

As we know, Carmel pretty much only does things all out. It’s been very difficult to “take it easy” and rest. And to work up to things gently… But I told myself that’s what I was going to do with aquasize. I mean, I hadn’t exercised in months and was excited to get moving again. So I started off nice and easy. And it felt fine. Then I thought “well, there’s nothing wrong with my arms. They can work hard”. But have you ever tried to keep one beat with your arms and another with your legs? Let me tell you, it is very difficult [well, for me at least!] to take it easy with your legs and try to push hard with your arms at the same time. But I aimed for that, and I think sometimes it happened. Mostly though, I ended up moving my legs more/harder than I anticipated. And it felt fine. There was some soreness involved, but that was expected after such a long break from movement, and it wasn’t just where my injury is. Eventually [ok, probably after a week] I decided to try giving it my best effort. I went as hard as I could and as fast as I could for each exercise. And it felt fine!! [mostly. sometimes I’d have to modify or tone it back a little, but pretty rarely.]

My mobility has improved SO MUCH with doing aquasize. Everyone comments on how I’m walking better, hardly ever swaggering, and even doing the stairs like a big girl {sometimes two or three times in one day!!!}. {ps. I totally love being told how well I can walk, or do stairs. eye roll. I’m not 2. But I do know it’s just people caring and being excited for my improvement. So I’ll try to contain myself. And as I write this, I know that whoever reads this and sees me is only going to comment more…} My doctor was very happy with my progress: absent reflexes and strength returning on my right side, though still not equal to my left. Oh, and now I can drive myself around again!!! Which also means I can get out a little more and do stuff, like see some of my youth kids in their school play!! I did have to purchase a SUV since Stella [my orange car] is so low to the ground {difficult/painful to get into and out of} and a rough ride. While not quite official, I’m leaning toward calling my new white beauty Fiara, which my mom found on google translate and is Malagasy for car. 🙂 I LOVE that she takes me to youth and I get to hang out with those awesome kiddos again!! They also make me laugh, which no longer hurts my hip/leg {how unreasonable is it that laughing made my leg hurt???!!!?!}, and makes my heart so full and happy.

Another perk of aquasize: socializing and new friends!! Obviously, I chitchat with everyone. The seniors enjoying deep water aquasize with me are no exception! I must say, though, that there are about three others intermittently there under fifty. One of whom is Sheila, who has been suffering and recovering from a herniated disc herself for the past three years. I met and chatted with her after getting into her car when my friend wasn’t able to pick me up the first day… we’re not strangers anymore! 🙂 Then there’s the couple I recognized from being involved at camp when I was little, the lady my mom knows from work [and whose daughter is my new manager at St. Boniface where I casual when I’m around and not broken], another gentleman who volunteers where my mom works, an old friend from camp’s mom, and all the others I’ve gotten to know a little bit. Wilma told me my smile encourages her. 😀 The instructor, Sarah, makes me laugh a lot. I told her that I can’t exercise when I’m laughing! She asked me one day during the warm-up how much sass she was going to get that day… I mean, it’s hard to give an exact amount, but we all know the answer to that is never going to be “low”.

Yesterday I got to enjoy the first rodeo of the year!!! A few friends from church joined my mom and me, and it was lovely! Great weather, and fun explaining everything to them.

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{with my FBF [Fake Best Friend, obviously] Robyn}

Now, for the biggest and most adorable excitement of the past month: I’M AN AUNTIE!!! My favorite sister-in-law Jenny had Lux Mira on May 6 [my brother was there too]!! I was soooooo excited that I was feeling well enough to meet her the next day, and that they let me do her first bath!!! We are all pretty smitten, and I’m loving all the snuggles I can get!

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{this one’s my fave I think. thanks Mom!}

{she loved it.}

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{she really loves her aunties}

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Well, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for caring.

sneak peek!

National Geographic has made an 8-part series documenting Mercy Ships. I get to share episode 1 with you before it’s released in Canada! Come for an exciting show [~45 min] and get an idea of this ministry that I love! You can also ask me questions if you have them. Everyone is welcome, share with your friends!

WARNING: It’s about a surgical ship, so there will be scenes of operations. There are also physical conditions that may be shocking and disturbing to some.

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I will be showing it at both of my home churches. This Sunday, May 7, it will be played during Sunday School at 0945 in Stuartburn Gospel Chapel. And in my Winnipeg church in the evening May 28. 7pm at Nassau Street Church [near Confusion Corner].

I will provide snacks and drinks at each showing, though I think the am one is a little early for popcorn…

If you cannot make it to either but would like to watch it with me, please send me a message.
Here’s the trailer. I’m so excited to watch it with you!!
https://vimeo.com/207050695

We don’t know when it will be shown on Canadian television yet, but when it is I’ll let everyone know! On facebook you can like ‘The Surgery Ship’ for updates and information. It’s airing in Australia right now.

IMG_4329IMG_4328This is “my” [yes, I like to take ownership of things I love and am invested in] OR, #2, where we did obstetrical fistula repairs in Madagascar. If you want to know what that means, you should probably ask me instead of Google. 🙂

nerves. that nucleus is getting on them.

So. I am not certain that this will make a ton of sense or not be repetitive, but I feel like it’s time for another post. I mean, it’s been sitting here waiting for me for a while. Partly done and wishing it could go out into the world for Auntie Jenn to read. ❤ So here goes…

Well March 14 I had my much-anticipated {by me, at least} injection. It was really neat. Though I understood what was going on and had been in the room for them before, my doctor was excellent at explaining what he was doing and warning about anything I might feel and that it was normal. Obviously I had to lie on my front, and my face was turned in perfect position to watch all my X-Rays on the screen. So neat. I could see it all happen, but it didn’t hurt [a few moments where I felt something strange or pressure in my leg, but that’s all. the freezing wasn’t even as bad as I anticipated].

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{patient gowns are not my jam, but I’ll rock one to deal with this nerve.}

Before leaving, I just wanted to double check with the doctor: if it helps, it usually takes 1-4 days to feel relief; he said that for some it takes up to a week, and some even walk out of the clinic feeling better. Well, I got myself back into my real clothes [let’s be serious, the comfy variety] and met my chauffeur who had graciously done a return and med pick-up for me then picked a waiting room to wait for me {she’s my favorite sister}. Walking toward her, we both thought I was limping a little less than before.

I could sit up for a while [previously generally a very short time was possible, maybe a meal], riding in the car was far less uncomfortable, and I decided my leg did in fact hurt less through the day. The next morning [and once or twice during the night] it was as sore as before, but I also remembered that mornings have been the most painful, and I have to wait a few hours for the meds to do much.

I was pretty excited to be able to drive myself to my friend’s church in Steinbach and hang out with my brother and sister-in-law for the day. And getting to go to my youth the following Tuesday after supper with lovely friends {even sitting upright! but lying down on the floor for most of youth.} was massively encouraging and life-brightening for me. I even survived a youth leaders retreat put on by my church conference, and the drive to and from Red Rock. It was pretty fun and I loved making new friends, but it was also pretty frustrating to have to lie down 90% of the time while people had fun and played games. And while people gave me super weird looks and comments about lying down…

Honestly, deep down I had decided that though it might take those 1-4 days, it was going to take all of my pain away and I’d be good to go. Like get on a plane to Africa. Uh, no. Sigh. I’m still not sure what I’m learning through all of this, but I’m bored of it. Maybe I should get it in gear and learn that thing already… {anyone wanna tell me what it is?? please? there will be a reward…}. I tried to quit it {pain} the other day, but I must’ve inadvertently immediately reapplied because I’ve still got it.

Anyway, I’m still sore. But it’s definitely better. And some moments are better than others. In exciting news, I called my Dr.’s office a little over a week after the first injection to discuss increasing my meds and I got permission to do that, and an appointment for another injection! The injection had definitely helped, but I felt like it had worn off.

I had that second injection this Tuesday [April 11, so almost a month in between. Is it seriously APRIL?! I checked out of life in mid-February…]. I swaggered out of there because my leg/foot was numb, but no longer in pain {and was so excited I forgot to take another hospital gown selfie}. I felt better and almost normal for a bit in the afternoon and evening. My sister and I got manicures, and now I have beautiful {soo far from my usual color choice} Cinderella nails! I actually had NO PAIN for a little bit. The doctor has been telling me to walk, and I haven’t because it is torture. But I decided to try it Tuesday. And went too far. And was hurting in the evening. And in heaps of pain the next morning. After a terrible sleep with dogs barking and not being allowed to sleep on my heat pad anymore [since the constant heat has been damaging my skin… oops.]

Definitely had a meltdown. Told my sister I was quitting life. [to be clear, not in any way suicidal. that’s a huge deal and not something I’m joking about. I just was giving up on ever getting better.] Cried on the phone to my mom and Auntie Kay. Cried on the phone to my sister. Luckily she came over after work, warmed up lunch for me, watched a cheesy dance movie with me, raided my chocolate stash and helped me eat it, encouraged me, and helped me do some organizing after we fixed my disposition. By the time I tried getting up in the afternoon I actually wasn’t in as much pain. So that was nice. Today [April 13, Thursday], after an excellent sleep, I did feel much better getting up. Though after ten minutes of moving around I very much needed the couch again. So we’ll see how this goes. I have to learn how to not push it too far, but still move and do something. I have zero idea where the balance lies. [oie, I’m such a one end or the other person…]

I think I’ve given this “illness” to God, but maybe I took it back? Sometimes I do that. It’s likely I need to do that pretty often. Like maybe continually. This is not easy stuff, my friends. I try to maintain a positive attitude, but that doesn’t always happen. And sometimes my positivity is actually unrealistic expectations that lead to disappointment. Like thinking I could get an injection and be all better. And able to walk around like a normal person instead of someone who is a thousand years old. [luckily my face is still young and pretty!] I’ve decided to be better by summer for sure, so I can do my camp nursing. But I might have to allow that to look different than how I usually do it [aka doing everything possible and daily workouts and playing all the games…..] if I am able to go.

I’m still not sure what Romans 12:1 means for me right now, but I’m trying to glorify God with this. He and I have had lots of chats about it, which have included some quickly scrawled notes and reminders… I’m going to try and share some of it with you. Here’s hoping it’s a little bit coherent… [it might be repetitive and redundant…]

Romans 12:1 [ESV]

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

All this lying down and needing help for everything is killing my pride and independence. Which just may be the point. Asking for help is not my MO. I’d rather limp around like an invalid and do it myself, much like a toddler insisting on their independence. Maybe that person wasn’t entirely wrong in saying that I’m “too independent”…. I’ve also been informed [in a sermon on Psalm 23 on Right Now Media, which is where a bunch of my recent revelations have come from, to make sure I give credit where it’s due] that this self-sufficient attitude is actually pride. ouch. gut-punch. And pride is heavy.

Sigh. I HATE admitting that I need help. I have to share a quote that I actually wrote down from the third “session”: “We would rather walk around with a limp on our own strength than submit to Jesus, admit that we need help, and run free.” They were actually talking about spiritual and emotional burdens that leave us “limping” in life, but it really grabbed my attention, for obvious reasons. In general though, I would rather struggle through something on my own than admit I need help. So I guess that’s something I need to work on… To quote my Millar prof Arnie Armstrong, we are all “as good as dead” without Christ anyway. We are meant to be dependent on a Savior.

Humility. I’ve otherwise not generally thought of myself as a proud person, but I guess that is a struggle of mine. This passage was also pointed out in the sermon I watched. Specifically, that before I cast [meaning THROW] my anxiety/cares/troubles on God, I have to humble myself before Him. But what does that really mean? How do I humble myself under God’s might hand? I haven’t entirely figured that out yet. Though it is rather humbling to pour this all out to whoever wants to read it… The Bible also says that God gives grace to the humble, which is good cuz I need heaps.

1 Peter 5:6-7 [NIV]

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

HE. CARES. In fact, He LOVES. I cannot escape His mercy or His goodness. Whether I’m in Dauphin’s OR, or one on a ship in Africa, or the couch in my parents’ living room. God is with me and He is good and He loves me. That’s what has brought me through really difficult times in the past. God will never leave, and He loves me. Always. I hope that if nothing else, this can encourage someone.

 Make A Way [song by I Am They]

“Wherever you lead me, I know you won’t leave me.

Wherever we’re going, I will be holding to the promise you have made.”

This song gets stuck in my head. God is still the one in charge, leading. He is still there, He has not left me [or you]. He could heal me quickly if that would glorify Him best. Or have held my disc intact, saving my nerve from all this pinching. But that is not what God has chosen to do, and I have to decide to trust Him in that. I have to humble myself, stamp down that self-sufficient pride, and throw my worry and cares onto Him. I’ll let you know when I figure out how…

I want to live a life worthy of the Gospel. One that “enjoy’s making much of God” and has my joy in Him [credit for those go to Pastor “Big” Al].

my new sedentary lifestyle. ew.

Oie. So it has been almost three weeks that I’ve been in so much pain that, even with my nerve pain medication helping and other pain killers, I’m flat on my back on the couch about 90% of the day. I still make it to my bed and mostly sleep the night. And I am so sick of it. I mean, a little rest is nice, right? Who doesn’t want a couple of days to just lie around and not have to do anything? Well, I’m pretty over it. Sitting up hurts after a few minutes, standing hurts, walking with my super swagger-y limp hurts, riding in a car is not fun, and driving became pretty near impossible. And not having to do anything and not being able to do anything are actually quite different. I’m mostly pretty optimistic. I had decided I was going to feel great after an injection and be good to go. Sometimes now it feels like I’ll be on the couch forever, though I haven’t even had an injection yet. I refuse to actually believe this looking forward, but it feels like that.

A quick note on my previously planned travel, because I don’t know where else to put it in here. I was hoping [planning] to be all better and get to the ship a couple of weeks late for my 8-week March-April service, and was in contact with Mercy Ships about all of this, but obviously couldn’t promise any concrete healing time. They decided to remove me entirely from the schedule and try to fill my spot. Though it breaks my heart a little, I don’t want them to be left short-handed at the last minute either and I understand that this is a smart plan for them. IF I am better and fit to fly looong distances and fit to work in time and IF the spot is still available, they will still take me. I have no idea if I will even be physically able to work in April, or what healing time will look like. I’ve become less optimistic about my previously decided {yes, by me} quick recovery plan.

Because I plan to go in the future anyway {I’d said obviously when speaking to my crew co-ordinator over the phone and then said oh maybe I shouldn’t say obviously; she said oh no I definitely assumed obviously you would!}, they are holding my support account and everything donated to it on pause for whenever I can go and serve with them. That’s really exciting because usually the account is closed at the end of each volunteer service, and a new one is started if you return.

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{on the couch with my trusty sippy cup. Thanks Dad.}

I’m so fortunate to be able to deal with this pain and immobility at home [aka my parents’ house], and my parents are really helpful. My mom leaves food and coffee for me in the morning {and it took me over a week to figure it out, but Contigo travel mugs work like sippy cups and I can drink out of them lying down! as long as I’m smart enough to squeeze the button appropriately… Much improved from the mug with a straw and still trying not to spill and it getting cold pretty quickly}, picks up my prescriptions, makes me dinner [and leaves food in the fridge for my lunch], is willing to bring me things when I ask nicely [even sometimes when I don’t], prays for me, encourages me, and tries to help make things better. My dad sometimes will make and bring me food if I ask nicely, and did bring me a sippy cup [which is way better than a cup, or even a cup with a bendy straw for drinking lying down without getting wet!] after laughing at me struggle for a while to sip out of a full cup when I was in too much pain to sit up for a pill-swallowing gulp of water. Unfortunately, they’ve gone through this before when my dad was out of commission with a herniated disc. My favorite baby sister {she hates being called that, but it will never not be true. Maybe once she gets older than me, since I decided a few years ago not to age.} comes over often after work and on Saturdays to keep me company {and because she wanted to see the new Gilmore Girls which I have access to}, brings me food, and has volunteered as my personal chauffeur for appointments [because I could probably only drive myself in an emergency at this time].

{Mom took me shopping after an appointment. I’m not quite certain if the stares and chuckles were because of my pink hair or because my Mommy was pushing me around while I sat in the cart…}

I haven’t taken more than a few days off from exercising since 2013 at least, and this feels so weird. My muscles are all atrophying, and I don’t like it. It’s pretty humbling [humiliating] when a doc asks me to try and touch my toes to assess my condition. I can hardly get my hands past my knees [maybe] before I am wincing and stop. I quickly assure them that when not “broken”, I can palm the floor [not only touch my toes, but put my palm flat on the floor] without bending my knees. And though now I limp around and can’t usually sit upright more than twenty minutes before limping back to a flat position, I was jogging five miles in 53 minutes or so without breaks a few times a week. Ugh. This is not Carmel.

Carmel is a doer, goer, fixer. That’s a big part of why I’m a nurse. I love to fix things. Something is wrong with you? I’ll fix it. Clean the wound, bandage it with polysporin and a princess Band-Aid, tensor it {I’m awesome at wrapping appendages}, or tell you that you’re actually fine. {though sometimes as camp nurse I may need to coddle a bit more… another not strength… but I can give out a hug, blue gel, and an ice pack a little more often than straight up “you’re fine”} In any case, I would really like to just fix this. I’m pretty over it [and I’ll try really hard to be grateful and joyful about getting up early and going to work when I can again].

I’m excited to have an appointment for a steroid injection at the site of the pinched nerve next Tuesday! I was worried I might have to wait longer. I’m not nervous about the epidural procedure itself; Though not the same thing, I’ve seen and assisted with {opened for, instructed and positioned patients….} countless epidurals and spinals both for labouring patients and in the operating room. I’ve even helped with {opened for, watched} these specific injections in Dauphin so I know what I’m in for. The ‘risk’ and injection itself does not worry me. However I am not looking forward to being on the other side of things and being a patient myself. Carmel wears scrubs and her own pretty OR cap in the operating room, not a breezy patient gown that opens in the back and a disposable hairnet; super supportive shoes [that happen to be fluorescent orange] with insoles, not flimsy patient slippers or socks; stands and opens sterile packages, not lies down on the table; uses needles, not gets needled. It’ll be fine. And it might make me more understanding and sympathetic of the patient experience as a nurse. But I’m not looking forward to that part. Bleh.

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{my [very unusual as camp nurse] position for pretty much all of Cedarwood’s winter retreat, as well as the two weeks since…}

“From the day” by I Am They has become a favorite song of mine since learning it at Camp Cedarwood last summer. Part of it goes “From the day you saved my soul, till the very moment that I come home; I’ll sing, I’ll dance, my heart will overflow”. I don’t take it to mean that once I’m at home I can be miserable and stop praising God. I believe “home” is my eternal one with God in heaven, and my praise will not stop then anyway. So why should it now? Either way, my dancing isn’t all that different with my lack of mobility, since I’m a Mennonite… In any case, God is good and worthy of praise even when I can’t move or do very much for myself. He is good when showering is all I can do in a day. God is good when I feel like a fraud for handing out “going to Mercy Ships” prayer photos and talking about my awesome African safari, then staying at home on the couch {though with the electric blanket, electric heat pad, and rice heat bag I’ve got going to help relieve the pain, it gets pretty warm here too}. He is good when I had to take a break and sit on the stairs for a bit on my way down because getting out of bed and using the washroom had caused enough pain for the moment. God gives me so many blessings. As mentioned, the ability to be at my parents’ house, their and my sister’s help, the fact that I have the mobility that I do, that I can pay for the medications I need, sooooo many people praying for me and encouraging me and making me laugh, the internet and Netflix, an actual diagnosis and that it’s not a tumor [as I was slightly concerned about but refused to really entertain, let alone admit aloud], the fact that my health is and has been so good in general, and that Mercy Ships is holding my support account for the future, just to name a few. There are so many more. I have over fifty blog posts about various ways God has blessed me. I know too that so many other people have it [pain, life, circumstances…] worse off than I do, [and in fact just read a friend’s blog post about her life in pain] but as my lovely friend put it “your own pain is the worst pain” and sometimes that’s all I can focus on. I want to remember to praise God in amazing times and tough ones, though it may not always be with singing and dancing… My heart will continue to overflow with love and praise for God and His love.

Romans 12:1 [ESV]

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

God calls me to give Him my body as a living sacrifice, to worship Him with it not only when I feel good or when I feel like it. I just found this in a ‘Mid-Week Wake-Up’ email from my church {NSC}, written by Pastor Al [he said I could post it], and I think it’s pretty perfectly relevant:

“Paul would tell us this morning, that whatever we do, do it all to the glory of God, for this is worship. He would also tell us, in view of God’s mercies climb up on the altar of submission to God, for this is worship.

This morning NSC, has God’s kindness and mercy overwhelmed you to the point, that you are staggered that a holy God would choose to rescue you, in spite of yourself? Has that staggering reality, led you to such adoration that this day will be lived out in a display of His glory and greatness, regardless what comes along. This says Scripture is worship, and living life to the glory of God.”

I was reviewing and going through the Bible study workbook I was going through with my amazing Dauphin group before I had the pleasure of joining them via Skype. We’ve been [soo slowly, including me, but it’s been really great!!] going through a study by Kelly Minter on the book of Ruth. There’s a lot in there about waiting and resting… And that God is still working, even when it might not seem like it. Honestly it was speaking to me months ago about waiting and not knowing what [job, place, etc] my future would hold, reminding me to trust that God had it under control. If I’m going to continue to be honest on this blog [that anyone in the entire world can read, including people that I know, so sometimes I don’t quite know why I’m so dang honest. hopefully God uses it in someone’s life. positively.], I also knew it was God telling me to be patient and trust Him with my lack of significant other. ‘Cuz sometimes I just really wish I had a boyfriend, though I’m not willing to just date anyone or everyone or be dumb about it.

img_3050Anyway, I was going over the chapter again before our Skype Bible study, and this page that I’d done myself at least a month ago really stuck out to me again. God really has such a sense of humor. I’d highlighted these words of Kelly’s that time [while I was sore, but still doing life as normally as I do it]: “I long to live the full, adventurous, and impacting life that God desires for me to live. I don’t want to miss out on this because I am afraid to entrust myself to Him.” Below in the reflection space I’d written “God, do what you want. Help me to trust you, and to like it.” WELL. Seeing that last Thursday, I may have laughed out loud. And I can tell you for sure that this is not what I’d had in mind. I mean, HOW IS THIS ADVENTUROUS?!?! Adventure is my jam. I love it. Adventure is my safari in Namibia knowing no one and then re-joining the ship that I love. I don’t see lying on my parents’ couch and relying on my family so much as adventure. But then {immediately below it on the page} I’m reminded that Christ died for me while I was powerless [Romans 5:6]. I don’t know if that is part of what God is trying to remind me of with this, but it’s a good reminder anyway. He loves me even if all I can do is lay on the couch. He loves me even if all I do is complain about it and if I don’t glorify Him. He is so good.

Searching my stack of books for a new read, I found the Book of (Even More) Awesome by Neil Pasricha which details numerous things that are awesome. I thought about making it a theme for my posts to list things that are awesome. Crunching leaves is awesome, as is spicy dark chocolate that my mom knows I can’t resist, and sunsets are one of my favorite things. Even more awesome is people telling me they miss me and that they’re praying for me. Friends from church letting me know that they’d prayed for me together and taken up a specific offering to support me on my missions trip {that I likely won’t be able to go on this time}. {that was pretty humbling to find out, and amazing to feel that love.} But truly awesome is Salvation. God’s love for me. Love for others. Peace. Joy.

Last week’s sermon in my Stuartburn home church was on Philippians 1. I don’t know how or what God’s plans are, but I really hope and pray that this will be true for me. I pray that this super annoying and frustrating period of waiting and resting will somehow glorify God. I know He’s working on me, though I don’t know how exactly or why this is my situation.

Philippians 1:12 (ESV)

The Advance of the Gospel

12 I want you to know, brothers,[a] that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,

Thank-you, again, for all of your prayers. When I got a little frustrated the other day about not being better yet, my mom reminded me how much worse my pain might be if I didn’t have so many people praying over me and my nerves. So thanks. I truly appreciate all of them, and you. Now get on with praising God with your life, whatever that looks like for you.

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{I had to end with some happy photos. I have no idea why I was so terrified of the chameleon. No one else was. It pinched, but didn’t hurt. Anne was a rock star and found him for us to enjoy.}

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{see? Anne reassured me and then I wasn’t scared at all. totally cool and chill.}

vacay baby!

So after working hard for sooo long in Dauphin [;)], I needed to go on vacation. Okay, I just like going on vacation for my birthday! So why not!? Plus, you might remember that if one is out of their home country on their birthday, they do not actually get older. So there’s that, too. Ever since learning of the existence of a city in California named Carmel, I’ve wanted to go there! I’ve also been wanting to visit my friend Mollie {we met on the ship}. Conveniently, she lives about a two hour drive from my town! So I asked if I could come hang out with her {and if she’d take me to Carmel} and she said yes!

{I love flying! I love seeing how amazing God’s creation is from the sky! always amazes me.}

Unfortunately there’s a drought in California right now, so it rained pretty much every day of the week I was there! I did not once wear any of the shorts I brought, and only wore my capris for jogging. But it was lovely anyway! Mollie was an excellent tour guide, though she didn’t always have an answer to my random questions….

First she took me to Muir Woods. It’s apparently named for a famous author I haven’t heard of. Anyway, the massive redwood trees were amazing. Impressive and gorgeous, even in the rain. But first, we stopped and had lunch [cuz I was about to get hangry]. The cafe was serving grilled cheese and tomato soup, which happens to be my favorite rainy day meal. Yum!

Well, we were super soaked, and had to change in the parking lot before getting in the car, but it was really neat and beautiful to see. The only spot not soaked on Mollie was the crease behind her knees. I believe I had no such dry spot. And I found out my previously thought to be waterproof jacket actually leaks along the zipper and pockets.

Then she drove us to San Francisco! And across the Golden Gate Bridge!! I was pretty excited. Hello Full House! [we didn’t actually see that house, but many many like it.]

img_2134{we’re on the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE!!!}

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{place we walked out of. gorgeous, right?! but they literally walked past and ignored us. we were dressed similarly to other patrons.}

We spent one night in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, where we wandered the piers and Wharf {including Pier 49 or 39, whichever is the famous important one with the view of Alcatraz and all the sea lions…}, got rained on, left a restaurant with epic views because they completely ignored us after seating us, had fresh clam chowder and sourdough bread next to the ocean in a different restaurant with a cool name that I forget, got rained on, and drank lots of free coffee from our hotel reception area.

 

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{we went on a sweet nighttime bus tour with a slightly rowdy/crazy tour guide. Team ‘Toba [though only one person in all of California knew where Manitoba was; seriously, Canada is your neighbor.] here [cuz Mollie got lumped in with me. muahhaha] were winners in getting points with said rowdy tour guide. see previous blog where I talk about it. it was really fun, even on the top in the rain. and pretty to see all the lights at night. see my proof below.}

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{on the left is the Bay Bridge. we were stopped on Treasure Island, I think, for a few minutes}

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{cable car!}

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{San Fran. in the rain.}

dsc02296I was wide awake kind of early, and unwrapped the birthday gift my mom insisted on me fitting into my luggage {thanks Mom!}. After breakfast at the home of the Irish Coffee, a rainy cable car ride, wandering downtown in the rain, and a ?streetcar [like a bus but on tracks and overhead wires] ride back to the hotel, Mollie drove us to CARMEL!!!! There was some lovely scenery, I may have fallen asleep, and then all of a sudden there were road signs with my name on them!!!

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{ha. as if there’s a simple guide. I’m far too difficult [er, complex] for that!}

Carmel is sooo lovely!! Gorgeous ocean views {though the water was quite chilly}, great trees, and a super adorable town. It was actually super weird seeing and hearing my name everywhere, both spelled and pronounced correctly!! Usually if it’s in print it’s caramel the flavor {a Starbucks barista actually made my drink wrong once because she thought my name on the cup was an extra flavor shot.} or maybe color. There’s really not much to do in town though. Plenty of little shops for souvenirs {oh yeah. got the tshirt, sweater, postcards, stickers, and an ‘I ❤ Carmel’ photo keychain that I put on my dad’s keys with a pic of me!}, dining establishments, jewelry shops and such, but not really anything to do but browse and enjoy the scenery. And take photos of me with signs saying CARMEL!!! It was super cool to be there though, and fun to say I was there on my birthday.

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{I definitely had a giant fudgey birthday brownie at my bakery!} [note: those display goodies are super dusty and nasty up close…]

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{This tree, and many others in town, was soooo cool!! and huge. [HUGE.] i’m not certain why, but I love trees.}

Mollie had us booked in Monterey [right next to Carmel, but not as pricey] for two nights. We found our hotel and wandered around to find a good place for a birthday dinner. There were lots of great seafood options along the wharf {I LOOVE seafood; unfortunately Mollie does not, but she found something she liked anyway}, and we got a free birthday dessert.

The next day, the SUN came out!!! I was so excited. It wasn’t hot, but it was the first actual sunshine I’d seen after three days in California. Okay, maybe it was two, since it was evening when I arrived Friday. We. Went. WHALE WATCHING!!! I was preetty stoked! It was a three hour tour and as they said that, the Gilligan’s Island theme song started its endless loop in my brain. [haha. someone who was seasick said it was the longest three hour tour ever. clearly they’d never seen or heard of Gilligan and the three hour tour he was skipper for…] I enjoy being on the water and don’t think I’ve ever gotten seasick. Unfortunately, Mollie started not feeling well about fifteen minutes in. She started feeling better once we got back and sat down for a while.

But on the positive end, WE SAW WHALES!! There were two of them. Humpback whales. I think. We never got super close, but it was pretty cool. There were also plenty of sea lions and seagulls. I quite enjoyed it. Mollie enjoyed getting back on land.

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Then we wandered around town, and down Cannery Row {it’s famous in a book I’ve never read} and had lunch. Later I went for a super lovely jog along the beach and watched the sunset. We wandered down the street for Chipotle, and ate in our room watching HGTV [I think] run a ton of tiny house shows. I decided I was going to build a tiny house. My dad has since talked me out of it. Maybe.

The next day we went down to the Monterey Aquarium. It was pretty cool. I was a little disappointed though because the website said there were whales. I was super stoked to see them a lot closer. Turns out the whales are sometimes observable from the aquarium, since it is oceanfront property. Sad face. But what they did have was really neat. Huge tanks, sharks, so many sardines [what Cannery Row canned], and lots of different jellyfish. Then it was time to head back to Sacramento, where Mollie’s mom made supper for us.

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{Monterey Harbour}

The rest of the week was more chill, but so nice. It was an immense pleasure to get to meet Mollie’s family, and they pretty immediately included me as one of their own! I got to join their Thanksgiving 5k tradition and then Thanksgiving dinner at her aunt & uncle’s {my first American Thanksgiving! so late to the party, guys! even after my birthday!!}. They were super lovely, as was dinner. YUM. The pie, too.

After I’d agreed to join the 5k run tradition, I had asked Mollie how fast they run. She kind of laughed and said “oh, we walk”. Ah. Well, I can be okay with that. But we got there and met up with her brother and his family, and I found out that he and his son were planning to actually run {jog}. So I asked if they’d mind me joining them. They did not. {well, their manners did not permit them to admit if if they did!} It was pretty fun. Got to chat with both of them, and Jon is a pretty good runner! We did take walk breaks, sometimes

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{my mom was quite concerned that I would be trampled in a Black Friday shopping mob. so I took this pic of me in a crowd after we’d finished our jog and walked back to find the others. it was not effective.}

only because the crowd was so thick and impossible. It was pretty difficult to get around and past people walking sometimes! But someone would lead and we’d get through {they made me lead to start off. ugh. I really didn’t know what pace to set for a 9 year old, or how badly they wanted to weave around the crowd, so I was glad to be relieved of my front position}. Jon sometimes wanted to go a little faster and try to sprint, but we helped him pace because he would’ve gassed out long before the end. Closer to the end we decided we were jogging all the way to the finish, no walking. Jon wanted to take a quick break but his dad [Joel, in case you care] told him that since he was wearing LeBron shoes, he couldn’t quit. It kind of worked. Plus, he had to keep up with us or get lost. Then he’d get a spurt of energy and sprint ahead. Don’t worry, I kept up. And I was easy to find in the crowd with my bright pink sweater {he’d definitely used it before because his dad blended in with everyone’s matching shirts for the day}. Jon looked behind to make sure once, and {just hardly} ran into someone. That startled and stopped him for a moment. His expression was just priceless! Then I made him start running for the finish again. WE MADE IT! He was stoked. To finish. And also to get to the snack stations.

 

 

Black Friday was the release day for the new Gilmore Girls episodes. Well, Mollie and some of her family used to get together every week to watch them on tv, so they had a big Gilmore Girls party! There were decorations, custom t-shirts with show quotes, coffee, heaps of junk food, and a tv crew! A ‘Good Morning Sacramento’ (or something to that effect) employee got wind of the party, and since one of the reporters is a huge fan, they sent him over [pre-arranged of course] to do a little fluff piece on the group and viewing party. Of course we had donuts, pop tarts, Froot Loops, more coffee, pop, Chinese takeout, and frozen [but then baked] pizza bites and taquitos. They were so kind to let me crash the party, and even said they liked having me there!

On my last day in Cali Mollie drove me past Folsom prison while she played Johnny Cash’s song on the stereo. Pretty neat! Then we wandered in and out of shops on Folsom’s cute little shopping street in the rain and went to a few more stores back in Sacramento. The evening included a super fun supper and game night with Mollie’s family. I had such a great time with them! Then Mollie and I had a pretty silent eeeeeaaarly morning drive back to the airport. Sigh. Thanks again Mollie and Van Parys family!!!

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{top left clockwise: finally dry[ish] in the car after, getting soaked at Muir Woods, after completing the very intense 5k, gorgeous Monterey sunset on my jog, a very windy Carmel beach, and with some impressively tall Muir Woods redwoods}

Calgary was fantastic!! I got to spend sooo much time with the amazing Pearsons!! I love that family. And I love that they just treat me like one of them. {sigh. I miss them.} My first day there Dusty dragged me to his 0600 boxing workout. Then I played blocks with a very energetic Kaeden at breakfast {by this time I was pretty awake due to boxing…} and taught him to say “auntie” [that is what his parents refer to me as, I didn’t just assign the term to myself] while I took him shopping [the airline misplaced aallllll of my luggage. I needed some replacement items. They did find and deliver said baggage in just over 24 hours. It was because of a very quick, jog through the airport, tell security your plane is boarding to get to the front of the line layover, so not entirely their fault…]. Anyway, I needed a few things so we went to the mall. Wow, respect to mamas. A 2.5 year old is a terrible shopping buddy. And he was actually amazing. Just soooo sloooowww. So it was walk at his pace and try to keep his attention on moving in the correct direction, or convince him that I should carry him. Because of course I didn’t feel like bringing in the stroller… oie. And to try and pick something out while also making sure he didn’t wander too far {he didn’t. he stayed pretty close in his exploring. once I thought he’d gone out of sight, but the store employee pointed him out right behind me…} But there were no meltdowns, no one ran away, no one even got cranky trying on jeans. We had a great time. And I got informed how cute my kid was so many times. I just smiled. He is super adorable.

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{Kaeden and I exploring the riverbank and checking out the ducks after our jog. he showed me that we should just yell at them to get their attention… it was super effective.}

{small fry [aka Macklin/Big Mac/Burt/the smaller one] usually found me quite boring and would pretty quickly fall fast asleep with me. unless, of course, I was alone with both munchkins and Kaeden was crying… though I don’t think I would’ve survived if he found me as entertaining as K did and wanted to play all the time too. next time… he definitely does have lots of smiles when I can hold his interest, but they disappear when the camera comes out! this was as close to one as I could capture.}

I also convinced my friend Joey to take me out two-stepping, which he’d taught me to do in the summer. It was super fun!! It’s where the bar scene in Cool Runnings was filmed, so that was even more awesome. And it’s full of super cool rodeo and country memorabilia. Loved it.

Saturday I crashed the Letkeman tree hunt. {It’s actually kind of funny how I know them. Karen is Karla’s bestie since like forever, so they were going and said I was welcome to come. [uh, of course I’ll come.]. But I was in class with Bryce at Millar and worked at DVRC with Karen as a cabin leader ten years ago. Then they met later at Millar and eventually got married. So I knew them separately, 10 years ago. But I knew they were married and in Alberta, just hadn’t really been in touch.} I’m really not certain how these four adults thought taking five kids into the bush to find a tree was going to work, especially since two of them were under a year and another two were two. And they intended to bring a tree back out with them as well as all five children. Good thing I was there to round out the “adult” team.

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{it was a liiiittle squishy back there. and blurry, apparently. but we had fun. I had to leave my door open until I was buckled, and needed to put my left arm across Mack’s carseat to not be so squashed.}

So I know no one reading this will know Bryce, but it was impressive how five-year-old Lexi is exactly her father. She was talking to [at] me through the car window before I was able to open my door. I think she was asking if I remembered her from that time we’d met. Her mother must’ve told her she met me at camp one time when her dad was speaking? Anyway, I couldn’t hear her at all over the screaming baby I was trying to put into a snowsuit on my lap before we opened the door. She decided we were pretty much besties when I finally got outside, grabbed my hand, and led me into the forest in search of a tree. {the others came with us, luckily!} After a super fun tree hunt {in which Lexi also chose and cut down a small tree for her room, and I’m pretty sure every other child took a turn crying} everyone was wrangled back into vehicles and to the Letkemans’ for lunch. Somehow every single other person in the house had a nap after lunch. I was coloring with Lexi at the table, and noticed that the babies had been put down for naps, the two-year-olds had been put down for naps, and [without discussion that I’m aware of] every parent took the opportunity to nap as well. Suddenly Lex and I were literally the only people awake in the house. Yeesh. She even “helped” me with my drawing, “because that’s what friends do”. Hmm. Thanks kiddo.

In the evening we held {Lexi and I did. everyone else had other children to care for} hands and explored the town’s Christmas party. That was swell. Lexi demanded stories from me as we walked. I suck at stories. I’m zero percent creative like that. But I made something lame up, and since she’s five, she didn’t mind. We really did have lots of fun together. She even made sure I didn’t get lost going back, since we’d explored a tiny bit more than the adults with babies.

I got to just join in on Pearson life, and it was lovely! I played with Kaeden, joined their small group, did boxing [aka torture] with Dusty eeeearly Mondays and Fridays, played with Kaeden, jogged and did weights with Karla and the boys, went shopping together, went to the pool and helped acclimate both boys to the water, jogged with Kaeden, babysat for a date night, went to the park with Kaeden, and also played with Kaeden and Macklin. I admit that by the end I was a little exhausted, and Karla said that they’d broken Auntie. {they claimed after the first day of Kaeden’s excitement to run around and play with me, and next day exhaustion crankiness, that I’d broken him.}

Kaeden and I made cookies one afternoon, and I found out that’s about the most stressful thing in the world. Kudos to you people who do things like that regularly. And thanks to the people who did that with little me. We played in the snow, looked at Christmas lights {which Kaeden and I loooved; he saw a CHOOO CHOO!!! of lights}, and ran many many laps around the house. sigh. I miss those Pearsons. Oh, Karla and I also got to go wall climbing one evening. That was really challenging a few times, but super fun to do together.

Then it was time to go back home, jet over to a Christmas bbq at the Longstaff’s, get to go to my church, and have a family afternoon getting and decorating our own Christmas tree! busy! and awesome. ❤ {yeah, I did it. it’s a heart.}

I’m sure I could tell you more stories about spending time with people that I love, but that’s all for now folks! Have an excellent day, and love the people around you. And message those far away people to tell them that you love them and miss them. Bye.

ugh {sore and frustrated}

That’s how I’ve been feeling. Just ugh. I’ve had pain in my right hip and leg for a few months, but it didn’t stop me from doing anything. It was annoying, but stretching and getting my muscles moving helped it feel better. I could still do all my normal activities, and sleep on that side. I just started each day with some stretching, moving even slower than my usual morning fogginess, and a healthy dose of pain meds. I did see a doctor, who x-ray’d my hip and said it looked fine and to try massage or physiotherapy. I did. They didn’t help. He gave me a prescription for some anti-inflammatory pain killers. They helped a little bit. I’ve tried multiple topical pain relief creams. One kind of helps a little bit. Physio tried acupuncture and ultrasound. Nothing. Chiropractor said he fixed the unevenness of my pelvis (apparently my left side was higher…). No change in pain. Prescription from a family doc for muscle relaxant and stronger painkiller. Still hurting. But it was worst in the morning trying to get going, and better as I got moving. I could still work, jog, and do my workouts as usual, which actually made it feel better because I was moving. I even went snowboarding, and I don’t know how to snowboard. The one other time I’ve tried was two years ago. Sitting would make it worse, especially when I tried to get up again. Oh, and I was told to do stretches. Everyone gave me stretches to do that I was already doing. Someone thought I just needed to jar it really good and hit it back into place. If falling all dang day in every position possible on a snowboard didn’t put something back into place, it wasn’t going to happen.

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{but don’t I look cool?!! big huge shoutout to my friend Tim for being such a persistent and helpful instructor!! and to Rach, Blake, and Tara for encouraging me and coming to have a fun day on the hill with me!! other than the pain and massacred pride, it was an amazing day!! and I did get better by the end of the day, which was exciting!! plus, I found a tenski once when I fell. and Tim found Rachie’s lip balm and their keys as he stopped to instruct me, before she knew she’d lost them.}

Then just over a week ago it suddenly got much worse. Sitting, standing, walking, lying… every position hurt. I woke up at night from the pain of moving [I move around a ton in my sleep, and generally sleep really well], and paced around my friend’s house while we chatted instead of sitting down like a normal person. I went to another chiropractor and he thought it was a pinched nerve. He also gave me stretches and exercises, but they are kind of impossible due to pain… I could still do some exercise, though it was uncomfortable and not as good. Sunday I tried to go for a run, which turned out to be impossible.

I had to cancel the safari and flights I was supposed to board on Valentine’s Day {ya know, since I didn’t have a date, I thought I’d leave the country for some adventure!}, and spent it at the Pan-Am Minor Injury Clinic in Winnipeg. This doc also thought it was a pinched nerve and gave me a prescription for a painkiller specifically for nerve pain. I’m seeing this chiropractor three times this week, and probably next week to try and release the pressure. He told me to take the week off from the gym entirely. [argh. I’ve worked really hard to make exercise a routine part of my life, and I know it’s going to be super hard to start up again after a real break. But the recent limping and inability to move has forced it anyway.] The new med will take a few days to start helping, and I have to start it low and increase the dose slowly. But it’s starting to feel a tiny bit better, I think. I’ve found a few couch positions that aren’t uncomfortable. Woot.

I so appreciate all the prayers for me with this. I have no idea why this problem had to have such awful timing. Maybe I just wasn’t supposed to go on this safari tour {though a friend recommended them and knows them personally, so I know they’re safe at least}. Maybe God is making me rest to practice my patience and decrease my self-reliance [my mom had to help me get my shoes on Sunday morning, and my sister put my sock and shoe on me on the sore side on Tuesday. sigh. and I thought I’d learned to dress myself… but I seriously couldn’t.]. I’d say those are two of my biggest weaknesses. I’m a little bit like my beautiful fake niece when she was 2 and would consistently say “no, Momo do!!” because dang it, she wanted to do it herself! {context: her name is Lola, but she goes by Momo most of the time. her auntie is my bestie, so I get to be auntie too!} And maybe one day I’ll be able to better help or encourage someone else going through pain, and better understand it. Who knows? I also got to nurse at a camp retreat this weekend that I was supposed to be away for, and still needed a nurse. But I’ll spend most of it laying on my back…

I seriously don’t know how people live with chronic pain. Respect. Huge respect. I’m about to lose my mind! I have to remember not to be snippy or cranky with others just because I’m in pain. Or when people suggest fixes I’ve already tried multiple times, it’s not okay to bite their heads off. [but come on, I’m a nurse. of course I’ve thought of massage, physio, etc. though I do admit nurses are about the last people to actually go see a doctor.] Thursday I was whining to my friend Karla via text about how gorgeous it was outside [above zero with no wind!!] but I was unable to go for a run {seriously, even if I wasn’t ordered to rest, I limp when I walk}. She told me to just go sit outside then! So I did. Sometimes some fresh air and a gorgeous sunset help improve spirits while the dogs jump around. Good idea Karla.

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{yes, I LOOOOVE sunsets. This one is actually from Wednesday. God’s creativity and beauty astounds me.}

I also just get frustrated that I can’t DO anything. I can get around, but I feel about 1000 years old, and feel like I look like it. Then I need to lie flat again. I. HATE. IT. So instead of interacting with campers and having so much fun at skills and activities like usual, I’m lying in my bed. And there are sooo many stairs here. Oie. My office/bedroom is in “the underground” [which means basement]. Mostly I just need to get to the main floor though, so that’s good. I was hoping to go sit in the ice fishing shack. Maybe after lunch I can get there. {nope, never left the building} But I feel better after some time on my back and think I can maybe manage something. Then I try sitting and I can’t find a position that works for more than a minute. I really am trying hard to rest. And it’s happening, I promise {Mom and Auntie Kay, I’m seriously not doing anything physical. at all.}. It’s so boring and frustrating. I don’t like it. My nap this morning wasn’t bad though!

I am still planning to be on the ship as scheduled for eight weeks starting March 5. I’ve decided to be all better by then, with the help of God, meds, rest {ew.}, and my chiropractor. Some have suggested that I can just do my personal travel after I’m done, but I can’t. My sister-in-law is due with our family’s first baby just before I leave the ship. I’ve instructed “Little Tex” {my dad has decided to call the child that, and I’m definitely on board} to stay inside until Auntie is back, but I can’t push it farther by gallavanting around Africa.

My friend Abby {she was a tiny little jr. camper when I started working at DVRC, and now she’s in University and sr. staff at camp with me!! yikes!} shared a couple of my favorite verses on facebook the other day as I was getting upset with my situation again. It was a perfectly timed reminder that God will “renew my strength” and only He can heal me. He knows my situation, my frustration, my pain. He will take care of me, and is in charge of my situation.

Isaiah 40:30-31

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint. {my addition: and not limp}

My favorite Bible passage has pulled me through some really difficult times {given to me by a super encouraging friend during a rough time}, and it remains true in this one. God has got this, and He will not let me be overwhelmed or burned. He is God, and I am HIS. I love that. SO comforting. Know that all of these promises are truth for every child of God. Clinging to God and His promises have been my lifesaver in scary storms.

Isaiah 43:1-5a

Israel’s Only Savior

43 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;

I leave you with a link to an interview I did on Mercy Ships. I was pretty nervous about it coming out, but figured that pretty much no one watches Global news on the weekend… well it turns out some people do. And they tell other people. And it gets posted and shared all over facebook with my name on it! So thanks for caring, all you people! I don’t share this because I’m so fantastic {it actually feels quite awkward for people to see this}, but because I’m passionate about Mercy Ships and helping people have a better understanding of what they do. {And to decrease the number of times I get asked “how was your cruise?”. The ship stays in port, docked, for ten months at a time. I’ve never been on it during sailing. And I’m there to work. It’s. not. a. cruise.}

http://globalnews.ca/video/3230242/manitoban-helps-out-on-floating-hospital-mercy-ships

Anyways, thanks for all your prayers. Please continue them. That I’ll be well and able to go and serve on the ship. And that I’ll have patience and a good attitude while I wait and rest.

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{at work in Dauphin with my friend Kitty! her real name is Caitlyn, but I and a few co-workers call her Kitty. it makes me very happy when she wears her Hello Kitty caps. she was excited to be in my blog!}

fall 2016

I spent most of last fall in Dauphin. Why do I keep going there? you might ask {my sister-in-law Jenny did}. Well, I really love getting more OR experience, and I enjoy working with the team there. They do require me to do some obstetrics shifts too, where there are also good people to work with. My workout buddies are top notch, making me work hard and still laugh {even though they’re often mocking the faces I make}. It’s also nice having my very own space at the hotel, which has a little kitchenette so I can still cook. I’m doing my third contract there at this very moment, which is for just under four weeks so I can have some home time again before AFRICA!!!.

{from our spring wind-up dinner, this is my “Power Hour” workout crew. I honestly love sweating and working hard with these ladies. They encourage and push me so much!}

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{Dauphin is also closer to visiting this sweetie [Charlie] and her lovely parents in Brandon on some of my days off}

My excellent friend Mandy {who totally found me on my first day of my first contract because God made it happen!} decided to start a Bible study in the fall, and invited me! Sadly I did have to bail once my contract was over, but I try to keep in touch and keep intending to skype in [though it hasn’t worked out yet], and do keep up with the study. Hopefully I can get to one during this contract, though my work schedule might not allow it… Anyway, when I showed up for the first one two of the lovely residents I got to work with at the hospital were there! What an excellent surprise. I also met a few more people, but it was so nice to see Lisa, Amanda, and Savanna there. That Bible study group and the book Mandy picked for us [on Ruth] has been a real blessing to me.

{the day I met Lisa [right, but not me.] when beautiful Mandy [left] invited me to go for a hike with her and a friend. These women are gems, and I’m so blessed to know them and to call them friends.}

{it was a pretty mucky and adventurous hike around a lake, but a lot of fun! by the end I just walked through the muck and washed my shoes in the lake after. oh, and I wasn’t actually being goofy in this photo. just trying to keep branches out of my face and stay on the log…}

Of course, Dauphin also means I get to hang out with Ma & Pa Schroeder, and Nan {who, in case you didn’t read it or forgot, are my friends’ family that I have decided to adopt. I didn’t give them a real choice in the matter, but they seem to be okay with it.}. Unfortunately I don’t have any pics {did that for you, Lauren! [it bothers her]} of them to share with you.

some work shots: {I tried out blue hair with my blue scrubs. I liked it. After 2 or 3 washes, I hated it. the hair, not the scrubs.}, {PPE}, & {OR attire}

This [September to November 2016] time period also included my {second} cousin Daniel’s wedding and Thanksgiving in Saskatoon, my church youth retreat {leader}, and the Camp Cedarwood fall retreat {nurse} that I had in my contract that I couldn’t work. {However, when I got my schedule I was scheduled for all three. I called the scheduler and pointed that out, and it was quickly fixed!} These were all excellent weekends. Spending time with that extended family, people I get to see far too little, was amazing. And there was far too much unhealthy food involved. But sooo much love. And laughter. And fun games. More laughing, and love. Thinking about it makes me miss them.

{my very pretty favorite sister! we were all very spiffy for the wedding! I still can’t believe we didn’t manage to get a family photo that day.}

{with my favorite brother; I don’t know what he was going for here…}

{it’s so nice that they love me! or at least bothering me.}

{we had matching nails! [Robyn, myself, and Cheryl] I did everyone’s nails that weekend. so fun. sadly my polish had to come off immediately to go back to work after the weekend.}

Our church youth retreat was also amazing. I admit I was a little worried seeing all the jr. youth show up at church and how little they are! I help lead sr. youth, and as previously discussed, ages younger than them are not what I’m good at. And seriously, they were so little!!! No word of a lie, most of my day camp “crew” from 2015 was there. That was only one year ago. Not five and it just seemed recent and “I can’t believe how much older you are!” One year ago they were my tiny 9-10 year old day campers. Anyway, not that I dislike the jr. youth, that age group is just not my jam and I was surprised at who was in it.

{not from retreat weekend, cuz I didn’t bother bringing my phone, but these are two of my craziest. ok, my two craziest. we have heaps of fun. I left my phone with them one time and have more of these, and entertaining videos… which include another leader…hehe}

When we got there, we pretty much got to pick our own rooms, and after telling Nicole [adult] that she kind of took my room with “my” kids, she graciously moved and I had the most stellar situation. {thanks Nicole!!} Four sr. high girls and me, two of which I was already pretty tight with and two who were happy to hang out and get to know me. Our “cabin” discussions were so amazing; they weren’t afraid to share or ask questions, it wasn’t awkward trying to get answers. They already knew each other and me. It was just awesome. {I LOVE that I really can just pick back up with my youth when I’m back, even though I make it to very few youth nights with being gone on contract and whatnot. I do keep in touch through text and such though.}

Oh mornings. Poor Claire. I warned the girls in my room that I wake up cranky and should not be spoken to, but that they should wake me in time for breakfast {I didn’t bring a timepiece}. I’d hear them getting ready and someone say that they should wake me, but I kept my eyes closed to have a few minutes to wake up slowly. I later found out that they’d say that and all scram, leaving poor Claire to wake me. Which she did, cautiously, and then she’d leave to go to breakfast too! Ha! I don’t think anyone has ever taken my ‘morning warning’ {woah. I love that that rhymes. I’m gonna use that again.} so seriously! It was awesome. Somehow our youth were pretty much all out of the building and I could get dressed in peace and still be on time for breakfast {and caffeine!}. That’s a win for everyone involved.

The retreat itself was also super amazing. Jason, great job organizing that. The worship team was mostly made up of sr. youth kids, including the a/v techs. They did so awesome. I was so proud! And loved praising God with our youth! A couple of the leaders tackled our group sessions, which was really cool. We learned about our spiritual gifts, figuring out our own testimonies to share, and other stuff. We also played some super fun indoor and outdoor games and just had so much FUN! Having fun is so much fun. {A friend had a shirt that said that. It’s so true.} I really really love having fun with my youth. They’re amazing.

Also excellent was making a great friend with a leader from jr. youth. I’ve seen her at church, but we’ve never really had much chance to talk. Turns out, she’s awesome. We had heaps of fun giggling and chatting at the retreat! Jason said a few times “what. you guys are best friends now?!” like it was a bad thing that we clicked so well. I think he was worried he couldn’t deal with how hilarious we are together!! 😉

The Cedarwood retreat was really great too, but an entirely different kind of weekend. There I was the nurse, and not in cabins with campers. I did, however, still get to play the games, paintball, and enjoy worship time! And, praise the Lord, everyone stayed nice and safe!

Um, that’s all I can come up with to tell you about my fall. It was really good. God lets me have so much fun!!