Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Be Still

Thankfully physical therapy has a few new aspects to it this past week. I still need to do the same tedious movements with my ankle, but along with them I have been on the stationary bike! The first day I pedaled slowly for 5 minutes and didn’t really feel any soreness or pain. The next time I asked if I can please do 5 miles, but he didn’t think that would be wise :) But he did say I can do 10 minutes. So, I figured I’ll pedal a little faster for more of a workout … after 10 minutes, ouch; I was feeling aches and pains here and there on my leg and ankle. He also had me do some other different exercises and when I came home, I felt pretty beat up.

And then I was reminded of the flip side of strengthen and being renewed that cannot be overlooked. My body needs rest and 'down time' along with the exercises to become strong.

In the same vein ‘spiritual exercises’ are good, but time to rest and be still is also needed for me to connect with God. And that is nothing new … it was written about centuries ago in the book of Psalms. Here are a few of the ways it has been translated from its original writing in Hebrew …
Be still, and know that I am God
Desist, and know that I am God
Cease striving and know that I am God
Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am

It is amazing, actually it is sad, how I need to hear/read the same thing a few times for my brain to absorb it … as I was writing the above, I was reminded of the time just recently when I also wrote about being still. Here is the quote I used that time … I really like the picture it paints of ‘catching butterflies’.

But there are other blessings that will be ours only if we stop chasing after them and let them come to us, like the butterfly that eludes our grasp when we try to catch it, but comes to perch on our shoulder when we stop chasing it and sit still.
- Harold Kushner

A balance of all things is what keeps me stable … just as physical therapy and rest for my body go hand in hand, so I need both spiritual exercises and being still for the health of my soul.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day by Day - physical and spiritual exercises

I have been doing physical therapy on my left ankle for the last two weeks. What can I say about it? It is repetitive and tedious. I move my ankle 40 times to the left and then to the right. (I would rather run 5 miles) I then take a stretch band and put one end over my ankle and hold the other end in my hand and pull slightly as I move my ankle up and down. Because I have issues with my toes not moving as they should, I also need to put a towel on the floor and ‘try to pick up the towel’ by curling my toes about 40 times. There are more exercises and all have to be done 3 times a day, but I won’t bore you with the details.
Though most of the exercises feel insignificant and puny and I don’t see instant results, I know I need to do them all persistently to have a strong ankle. But I want the end results now; I do not like this ‘one day at a time’ thing. I would like instant gratification, now!

It has been reminding me of my relationship with God. I want the connection; I want the peace and joy that comes from being connected to my creator. But I don’t always want to do the ‘exercises’ that I need to do to make it happen. I want the end result … living a life that serves and honors God, but I want to skip over the day by day training.

When I do my physical therapy exercises I can see and feel my ankle moving and ‘working’, but I cannot see anything happening in the inside. I cannot see or feel the tendons, muscles or bones getting any stronger in my ankle. I don’t get up from doing the exercises and find my ankle healed anymore than it was an hour earlier. I have to go by the information I have to know that something is slowly happening in there … my knowledge of how the body works and what the professionals, my doctor and physical therapist, tell me will result from doing the exercises daily.

Sometimes when I do my 'spiritual exercises', it is much the same way. I don’t feel or see anything happening in myself. While it can be a peaceful and calm process to read, pray, write and be still … I don’t emerge from the time being a ‘holy human.’ I am still me … at times, selfish, unkind and impatient, the whole package of a messy human. But I make a choice to believe what the Bible, my pastors and others I trust say … step by step, day by day … I am connected to my Creator and my soul is renewed, healed and strengthen.

Just like I would rather go on a run than do physical therapy … somedays I would rather write or speak about my walk with God, than actually walk with God. At times, I have to be intentional about reading the Bible, praying, journaling, and serving, because otherwise it just doesn’t happen. But only when I have done that am I then ready for the ‘long run’ that He calls me to. Spirit of God, help me ‘one day at a time.’

By the way … I have about 6 more weeks of therapy to go through … ugh. And God only knows if I will be able to run again. My doc doesn’t really think it is a realistic idea, he says due to all the injuries, my leg might be too compromised. So maybe I need to take up biking ...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Last month I spent a day at this quaint cottage close to my home. It is owned by an acquaintance and a group of ladies from my church used it for a 'day retreat'. We spent the day brainstorming about what is and what can be offered for women in our community. It was a fun, relaxing and productive day. It was inspiring to see the beautiful and creative touches all around us ... they were evidence of my friend and God's creativity.

The brains are in gear, the ideas are flowing ...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Appreciate each day!

Today I was out delivering something to a friend's house and I was driving on a road that I used to run on a lot. The road runs along the mountain and overlooks a valley filled with farms, complete with a creek at the bottom. It is a beautiful stretch to drive or run ... with the trees on one side and the patchwork of fields on the the other side. For me today, it was a reminder of the many morning runs I did on that stretch of road pre-accident ... sometimes with snow covering the fields and mist rising from the water, other times the spring flowers were just coming into bloom and still other days the corn was being harvested and orange pumpkins dotted the hills.

One memory that stands out from all the others is this one particular morning ... it was spring, slightly cool - the perfect temp for a run, the trees were full of fresh, young leaves and the air smelled of spring onions, dirt and grass. It was one of those runs, when I felt great ... as if I could have run for hours. I had just finished a triumph burst down a short hill and was making my way uphill again. Uphills were harder work, but I liked the challenge of pacing myself to run steady and controlled, so I didn't run out of energy before I reached the top. I was marveling in the fact that I was a runner and loving it. Years earlier, I didn't even like to go for walks, but a series of events (a post for another day) changed that and here I was ... on a challenging run, smelling unpleasant due to sweating intensely and loving it. Part way up the hill, the morning became even more glorious as I heard tunes from a harmonica up ahead. It was a soft, sweet melody that thrilled me and gave me the energy needed to make the final push to reach the top of the hill. There on a low, stone wall sat a teen passing the time waiting for the school bus with his harmonica. We only acknowledged each other with a nod (I was out of breath and he was playing :) but the memory of that scene/setting and the fact that our timing was never the same before or after that morning ... makes the memory of that morning priceless.

As I passed the stone wall yesterday, I cried and reminded myself to cherish each day and to make the most of every part of my being that I have, while I have it. I can't go on a run today (man, do I want to) but I can do stretches and exercises so that when my ankle is healed I can go on walks, maybe ride a bike and use my kayak.
Also, I do have a curious and healthy brain/mind ... am I making the most of it?
Relationships is another area that can change ... am I cherishing my loved ones each day?

So, appreciate what you have when you have it ... we never know what might change today.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I'm back home ...

I'm back home ...
Though Joseph and Brandon didn't advance to the finals at the Debate Tournament, they did great ... holding their own against the other competitors, some being 2 to 3 years older. It was a joy to be at the tournament with Joseph, though it was very tiring. The debates took place in 1 of 5 buildings, so there was plenty of walking. Thankfully the many gracious event staff on golf carts would gladly take me where I needed to go.

The walking cast is feeling great ... I have been able to put a little more weight on it each day and today I even took a few steps without the crutches. Yes, progress is happening!

I am having the nerve pain in my ankle right now (that is why I am up at 5 am) that Dr. Ducic says is not really there. I understand the concept that he explained of the phantom pains, but it still seems odd.
Here's the explanation ... in April, during surgery, Dr. Ducic worked on a nerve in the back of my left calf. It was not an area that gave me constant pain, but it was super sensitive when touched or bumped. Due to the wound, there was a nerve cut off there. He moved the end of the cut nerve into the center of the leg further. Now that I can take my cast off, I realize how much better that area feels. Before I couldn't even wear socks that were tight over that area, now it feels normal. So, the calf feels better, but that nerve is the one that used to run down along the left side of my ankle and foot. The nerve ending is 'irritated' from the surgery, so as I feel pain in my ankle ... if I rub the area on the calf where the ending is, it does relieve some of the pain. Because that is where the pain is, but my brain is registering it as my ankle because that is what it did for 40 years. He says when I am having the pain, to not think about the actual spot where I feel it and with time my brain should re-register the nerve sensations. Also, with time the pain should stop as the nerve heals.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Update from Check-up

I should smell better now ... I finally had a bath after 8 weeks of only 'sponge-bathing' :)

Dr. Sauer was happy with the healing of the Achilles tendon and the cast is gone and in it's place is a walking 'boot'. It looks something like a ancient ski boot, that I can remove to bathe, sleep and rest. YES! Over the next week, I will be able to put more and more weight on it and in about 8 to 10 days I should be able to kiss my crutches good-bye. I start physical therapy next week.

As for the nerve pain, Dr. Ducic says the random pain I have been experiencing on the upper leg is part of the healing process. He thinks more time is needed for more healing and he wants to see me again in August and then he will decide if he should do another process. As for the nerve pain I had sporadically on the side of my ankle ... you won't believe this, but he says the area where I have the pain has no nerve. The nerve is cut off up further in the large wound area and that the pains are 'phantom pains'. My brain is telling me I have pain when I don't actually have any ... what?? He then also reassured me that I am not crazy ... well that is nice to know.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Monday the 5th, I go to Georgetown Hospital in Washington DC for a check-up from my surgery. The plan is that I get a walking cast ... I am so tired of these crutches. I will not miss the fact that ever time I want to get anything or go anywhere, I need to use two apparatuses to help me achieve what I want. I have also had a lot of discomfort and pain with this cast. I then start physical therapy, which I am thrilled to do, because doing physical therapy helps me feel 'in control' of my life :)

It will be a busy week ... as I had mentioned Joseph qualified (yes!) for the National Tournament with the Debate league. Nationals are held at Patrick Henry College, which is about 30 miles west of DC. So Monday, we go down to the doctor, then head to the opening ceremonies on Monday evening. We all stay for debate on Tuesday ... Joseph wants his brother and dad to see him debate :) then Jerry heads home with the others on Tuesday eve and Joseph and I stay until Friday and come home with his debate partner and Mom. I know it will be a tiring week, but I want to be there for Joseph.

I will let you know how the check-up goes on Monday evening.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

"Oh Lord, you know, I don't"

In Ezekiel there are some interesting stories ... one being in chapter 37, where God shows Ezekiel a valley of dry bones. God then asks him, "Can these bones live?" Ezekiel replies, "Oh, Lord, you know, I don't." That is the attitude I want to go through life with ... remembering that God has the answers and I don't. Remembering before I take action or give answers to others, I need to take the time to connect with Him to hear/see/experience Him giving life to dead bones.

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, explains it this way ... "Can this sinner be turned into a saint? Can this twisted life be put right? There is only one answer: Oh, Lord, you know, I don't. Never trample in with religious common sense and say - Oh yes, with a little more Bible reading and devotions and prayer, I see how it can be done. It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him. We would far rather work for God than believe in Him."

It is so easy to react to situations or people with our ever-ready Christian lingo and handy Bible verses. So, how do we believe in God, rather than 'work for Him'? I think it might start with remembering we don't have all the answers.