Random Acts of Encouragement

While riding our bikes on a beautiful New Year’s Day afternoon, Hubs and I talked about some of our goals for the year.  We don’t usually wait until New Year’s day to set goals – after all, a goal is a goal and can be implemented at any time during the year.   Anyway, here’s how it happened:

We had just stopped at a park to drink our water and rest for a few minutes when we noticed a young dad fishing with his son and daughter.  The daughter had gotten her line caught in tree and the dad was patiently cutting the line and fixing her rod.  Hubs said he would be back in a minute and walked over to the dad.  After chatting with him for a few minutes he returned to where I was sitting and had a smile on his face.

  Now, I know my husband.  He never goes out of his way to talk to people.  He is basically shy and saves his words – unlike me who talks to everyone and says anything that pops into my head!   I asked him what he said to the dad and he told me “just guy talk”.   Of course, I didn’t settle for that explanation and pressed for more info.  Hubs explained that he had just participated in a random act of encouragement.  He encouraged the dad to keep making memories with his children.  Hmmm. . . a random act of encouragement.  I like that!  Hubs explained that one of his goals for the year was to be more encouraging and to be aware of opportunities to be encouraging.

That got me to thinking.  This past year has been a year of learning to slow down for me.  Two surgeries (one of them a kidney transplant) and some nerve damage to my leg really slowed me down.  At first I thought I would go crazy having to depend on others to take me places and wait on me.  I like to go.  I like to do.  I like to be in the middle of everything.  Having to rest was a hard adjustment for me.

But, here’s what I learned from resting – resting gives you breathing room.  It gives you time to ponder and wonder and look around.  When you move at full speed you miss the landscape.  Even on our bike ride on this particular day, the serious bikers (with fancy bikes and clothes) were speeding by but Hubs and I (with our thrift store bikes and sweat shirts) were taking in the scenery.

When you take the time to notice what is around you, you will most likely notice people.   Some that you know and some that you don’t.  During the Christmas season as I was shopping and running errands, I decided to make it my job to look people in the eye, smile a big smile, and wish them a Merry Christmas.  There were only a few people who didn’t respond back with a smile.  I was especially aware of greeting sales clerks and maintenance people, who I’m sure were having a tough time.  I guess it was my way of showing a random act of encouragement without even thinking about it.   Now, why haven’t I been doing this all of my life?  Simply because I was in too much of  a hurry.  God gave me the gift of noticing people by slowing me down.  Thanks God.

Bike riding after a kidney transplant

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Is Multi-tasking Always A Good Thing?

I’ve been spending a lot of time in doctor’s waiting rooms.  And you know what’s in waiting rooms?  Magazines. 

I’ve read a lot of articles on a variety of topics.  Gardening, dieting, exercising, decorating, fishing, cooking, remodeling, traveling etc.  Lots of opinions.  Lots of ideas.

One article I read, though, stopped me in my tracks.  It was in a women’s magazine (a pretty liberal one at that) and it was titled “Prayer is the opposite of multi-tasking”.  Whoa!  What?

Prayer is the opposite of multi-tasking.

I’ve been priding myself with the fact that I can multi-task with the best of them.  I can do two or even three things at a time.  But I had to ask myself, “When I multi-task am I giving my best to each activity?  Or am I merely sticking my big toe in the water instead of becoming fully submerged?”

God deserves my full attention.  I don’t need to “fit” Him into my day.  He should be the focus of my day. 

 

Thanks for reading,

 

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God’s Timing Is Perfect

It’s been quite a while since I posted here at Blessed Brown Wren. 

It’s not because life has been slow.

It’s not because God hasn’t been working.

It’s because God’s been working faster than my heart or head could process.

 

On Monday, April 11th, 2011 I received a second chance at life.  I was given a kidney during a living donor transplant.  Talk about life altering!  My friend, Cathy, gave a part of her own body to me so that I could live a more normal life.  A life not attached to machines.  Without this gift, I would have been doomed to years of dialysis treatments, 3 times a week, until a deceased donor organ could be found.  The search for a matching deceased donor usually takes 5-6 years.

The whole process took a few months, from my initial testing at The Medical College of Virginia last October, several people testing in January/February, and then the announced that Cathy was the donor and we needed to schedule a surgery.  Fast. 

God’s timing is always perfect – never too early, lest we rush things.  Never too late, lest we fall through the cracks.  Just as my body began to feel the true side-affects of the disease the plan was revealed and everything was set into motion. 

48 hours after the surgery, Cathy was released from the hospital, just in time to watch her son be commissioned into the military.   6 days after surgery, I was released.  

Today, Cathy’s mom drove her out to my house for a visit.  We sat on the front porch and talked about our experience and how blessed we both are with good health now.  Just for fun, we compared scars.  Her scar is under her right rib cage.  Mine is in my front lower abdomen.   We found it amazing that the organ doesn’t even have to go in the same part of the body that it came out of!

Both of our lives are forever changed.  Both for the better.  We now consider ourselves sisters.  United by surgery and our Heavenly Father. 

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God Doesn’t Do A Patch Job

I have a lot of conversations with God while I’m driving.  I guess it’s because I live in a rather rural area and it takes me awhile to drive anywhere.  I’m usually by myself and the radio doesn’t work until I get closer into town.  The silence is when God has a chance to speak to me.  It’s funny (well, not funny – interesting) that I have to be strapped into a vehicle to sit long enough for Him to get a word in edgewise.  It’s something I’m working on.

On this particular day, the message was quite clear. . . “Do you think I can heal you?”.  I answered out loud, “Well, of course you can.  You made me and you sustain all living things.  Yes, I believe you can heal me.”

“Well then, act like it!”  I sat in silence.  I had been trying to keep a positive outlook on this whole kidney disease thing.  I had been praying that God’s will would be done in my life.  Wasn’t that enough?  Why did I deserve to healed from this disease?  I’m human and humans get diseases.  I wasn’t mad at God for allowing me to get the disease.  Most probably, I would not die from this disease.  The kidney disease would just cause my life to change in a major way.  I had accepted that.  Wasn’t that enough?  Apparently not.

I had never asked God to heal me.  Not even once.  Does that seem strange?  I never asked “why me?”.  I never questioned.  I only accepted.   But now He was telling me to act like I believed that He could heal me.  How exactly does one do that?

My first step was research.  I love research.  I looked up Jehovah Rafa in my Bible commentary.  Jehovah means “God is my healer”.  I was delighted by the definition. 

The concept is interesting.  It is the idea of a torn quilt.  Instead of patching the old quilt with a new piece of fabric.  The healer makes over the quilt so that it is like new.  In other words, God doesn’t do patch jobs!  I promptly bowed my head and asked God to heal me.  I claimed His healing power so He would know that I was serious.  And then I waited.  A few weeks later my blood results showed further decrease in my kidney function.  “God, are you healing me?”  I struggled with the conflict.  If God tells us to ask for anything in His name and He will answer our prayers, then why do I still see kidney failure in my future?  

 Certainly, a kidney transplant would be “like new” because it would be a new, functioning kidney in my body.  But is that how God is going to heal me?  I believe He will.  I don’t think there will be a miraculous disappearance of the kidney disease, although I believe He is capable of pulling that off.   It will probably be by the miraculous appearance of a new kidney to replace my two pathetic kidneys.   A new kidney donated by someone who choses to be used by God to give the gift of life. 

What has been interesting to observe during the past few months since that conversation in the car is this:  God is way more interested in my spiritual health than my physical health.  True, He cares about both, but only my spiritual health has eternal consequences.  I believe the “new”  Brown Wren is about to hatch.  She’s not at all like the old version.  She’s heard from God and learned that He doesn’t do patch jobs.  She’s not afraid anymore.  She’s pretty bold in her conversation.  She’s giddy about her Lord.  She doesn’t care about stepping on people’s toes when it comes to their relationship with the Lord.  Who is this strange bird?  I think she’s a Blessed Brown Wren.  And she’s not a patch job.

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s The Rush?

Want to start at the beginning?  Read:  part1  part 2  part 3

From my journal:  December 2008

Every year I promise myself that I won’t let Christmas sneak up on me.  I’ll plan way ahead.  I’ll have my cards sent, my presents wrapped, and my goodies baked by the first week of December.  That goal seems a bit short-sighted.  I’ve never achieved it. 

This year is different.  My energy is increasing a bit.  The new meds and supplements I’ve been subscribed seem to be working.  I seem to be feeling pretty good but there is a nagging thought in the back of my brain. . . “How long can I function like this?  I have less than one-fourth of my kidney function left.  How much time do I have before I’m dragging myself around?  I’ve got a lot to do and not much time left to do it.”

The holiday season is frantic enough without any extra sense of urgency going on.  I find myself doing errands and silently seething to myself, “People – get out of my way!  I have things to do and not a lot of time to do them!”  Of course, on the outside I was all smiles and “Merry Christmas” to everyone.  Talk about being two-faced.

One morning, while on my way to work, it was just God and me in the silent car.  Because I live in a more rural area, I don’t always get radio reception clearly until I’m closer into town.  I poured out my frustration to Him.  He heard me.  He reminded me that there is really no reason to rush because he made me to be an eternal being.  In fact, we’re all eternal beings.  If we choose to follow Him, we have eternal blessing.  If we choose to go our own way, without Him, we’ll have eternal agony.  But one way or another, we will live eternally.   So, in light of that, I’ve got plenty of time.  And when you look at it with that perspective, there’s no urgency.  He’s already planned out my days.  Fretting over it will not bring one ounce of joy to my life.  In fact, fretting over it wastes my time and I’ve got much better things to do.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God. 

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that men will revere Him.

 

To be continued. . .

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Through The Door

 

The story continues. . .

                                 (read:  part 1 and part 2 )

November 2008 – from my journal. . .

     This was a scary day for me.  I never dreamed of having to go to a Nephrologist.  In fact, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know what one was.  Who wants to have to see a kidney specialist?  Certainly not me.

Because Skip is such a good husband, he insisted on going with me to the appointment.  I wonder if he was afraid I would back out?  We crossed the parking lot together, holding hands and trying to swallow the lumps in our throats.  We somehow knew the appointment that lay ahead of us would change our lives forever. 

As I fought back tears, I whispered to Skip, “I never wanted to come to a place like this.  I don’t  belong here”.  He squeezed my hand and assured me that we would get through this together and with God’s help.  His words didn’t really bring me comfort at the time because isn’t that what loving husbands are supposed to say at a time like that?  But what else was there to say?

As I reached for the entrance door and took a deep breath I was suddenly aware that God was speaking to me.   You know, in that still, small voice that whispers to you just when you need it.  “This is your new mission field.  Count how many people are waiting for you in your new mission.”   It was unmistakable.  Those were His words to me.  And sure enough, as I stepped through the door, there were 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.  staff members standing at the entrance to the office.  There were no other patients – just me, my husband, and my new mission field.   

I smiled at them as they greeted me.  “Hello, mission field” I thought to myself. ”    I wondered just who the changed person was that was living inside my body.  I hadn’t met her before.  She was suddenly a bit bolder, a bit braver, and ready for what was to come.

The appointment was difficult.   I love my new doctor.  His staff is great.  He explained the track Polycystic disease usually takes and assured us that he would carefully monitor my health.  He also explained that the 5 year estimate until I needed a transplant was not correct.  He felt that I would need a transplant in 1-2 years.  That information crushed my spirit.   He tried to reassure me that this was not a “death” sentence but simply a change in my life that I could overcome.  He didn’t realize I had lost my sister to this disease when she was 35.   My brave, bold, and ready self was wavering already!

We checked out at the desk and made our way out to the car.   It was a beautiful Autumn day; sunny with a slight breeze.  “Really, God?  My mission field?  Why me?  Why my family?”, I asked.   The answer came back to me almost as soon as the words were thought about in my mind. . . “Why not?”.  Why should I be spared from illness?  Why should I think my life would be a bed of roses?  Don’t I always learn more from God when the going gets rough?   

Tonight has been rough as we had to call friends and family to tell them the news.  Many of our friends didn’t even know about my initial diagnosis.  After all, we thought we had several years before it’s symptoms would be evident.  I have been sitting in bed, writing and praying.  I realized that my God made me and knows how I operate.  He knows that when I’m upset about something I like to have a job to do.  When I’m angry, I clean house.  When I’m fretting, I weed the garden.  Well, now I’m fearful of my health, my life, and my family.  So, He gave me a job to do – to share my faith with everyone I come in contact with during this process.   I’m sure I’ll be meeting a lot of doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and staff with every appointment.  I must remember that I am blessed.  I am very blessed.  I have a job to do and God will be glorified.

To be continued. . .

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What happens next?

The story continues. . .  (click here to read part one)

My emotions were still reeling from my diagnoses, but I was pretty proud of myself for going in a forward direction.  My emotions wanted me to stay in bed with the covers pulled over my head, but my head said “forge ahead”.  So onward I went.   I made an appointment with a nephrologist and called for a follow-up appointment with my primary care doctor.  

I guess I should explain a bit of  history with my primary care physician.   You see, I had been going to this particular family practice for 28 years.  Our whole family had been under the care of the same doctor for 28 years.  Two months prior to my diagnosis, I had been informed that “our” doctor had retired and we could see his replacement or make an appointment with a different doctor in the group.  I picked the new replacement and crossed my fingers. 

 I liked her, I really did.  She gave me the most thorough physical I had ever had.  She  read my blood results and found several conditions that had apparently been overlooked for at least two years by my previous doctor.  She looked at me and asked “How do you get out of bed in the morning?.  I responded that I was, indeed, tired quite a bit but that I had been told it was my age.   “No, my dear.  You are anemic, have a underactive thyroid, and most certainly have something wrong with your kidneys”.  “Have you been taking your medication?”   “What medication?”, I asked.   “You’ve had these conditions for a least two years, according to your blood work.  You weren’t prescribed any supplements or medications?”   “No”, I responded. 

She turned red.  Very red.  She left the room.  Five minutes later she came back and reassured me that she was going to get me some help.  She prescribed a thyroid supplement, some iron  supplements, and a blood pressure medication to protect my blood vessels.   She asked me to return a month later to have more blood work done to check my levels and adjust the medications. 

Three weeks later I called for my follow-up  appointment  (this is where the follow-up appointment previously mentioned comes in).  That’s when I got the news.  “Dr. J is no longer with our practice”, I was told.  “What does that mean?!”, I asked.  “You can see one of the other physicians in the practice”, they told me.  “But I want Dr. J”, I demanded.   And,  like a broken record I heard, “She is no longer with our practice”.   First one doctor and now another in just a few months.

I fretted and worried.    I was on the phone with my mother-in-law, sharing what was going on, and she reminded me that God had not been caught off guard by all of this like I had.  She also suggested that maybe God had positioned that doctor “for such a time as this” to get me the medical treatment I needed.  She even suggested that maybe, just maybe, that doctor had been an angel, sent to protect me.  Now, I’m not really an angel fanatic or anything.  In fact, I’m not really sure about angels – although I do believe they exist.  What I do know is that my Heavenly Father can use what ever He wants to take care of His children.   

The story continues. . .

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