Hope & Mercy

Surgery is over.

Praise God, they are all over.
It’s been almost 6 weeks since I had my reconstructive surgery, and I’m back to real life.  I don’t see my reconstructive surgeon anymore, and my transplant surgeon saw me last week and gave me a clean bill of health.  We are all hoping (realistically) that this was my last surgery.
I did have some complications and ended up in the ICU but recovery has been pretty low-key.  I’m thankful for that, too.  God has showed Himself on many occasions.  His grace is overwhelming.
I attended a Beth Moore simulcast with my sweet friend Chelsey last month and her writing on grace was so beautiful to me:

Grace is an inflated raft that can submerge to the floor of a sea to save you.

 Grace is the silver thread that stitches up the shreds of mangled souls.

 Grace is the eye that finds us where it refuses, there, to leave us.

 Grace calls the waitress to the table and sits her down to wash her feet.

 Grace sees underneath the manhole on a street of self-destruction.

 Grace is the air to draw a breath in the belly of a whale.

 Grace is the courage to stand in the shamed wake of a frightful falling.

 Grace is the only fire hot enough to burn down a living hell.

 Grace waits with healing in His wings when we’re too mad to pray.

 Grace is the gravity that pulls us from depravity.

 Grace races us to the Throne when we make haste to repent and always outruns us.

 Grace treats us like we already are what we fear we’ll never become.

 Grace is the doorpost dripping red when the angel of death grips the knob.

 Grace is the stamp that says Ransomed on a life that screams Ruined.

 Grace sets a table before me in the presence of my enemy even when my enemy is me.

 Grace is the cloak that covers the naked and the palm that drops the rock.

 Grace is divine power burgeoning in the absence of all strength.

 Grace proves God true and every self-made man a liar for the sake of his own soul.

 Grace is the power to do what we cannot do for the Name of Christ to go where it has not been.

Grace is a room of a thousand mirrors, all reflecting the face of Christ.

 Grace is…

The eye popping

Knee dropping

Earth quaking

Pride breaking

Dark stabbing

Heart grabbing

Friend mending

Mind bending

Lame walking

Mute talking

Slave freeing

Devil fleeing

Death tolling

Stone rolling

Veil tearing

Glory flaring

Chin lifting

Sin sifting

 Dirt bleaching

World reaching

Past covering

Spirit hovering

Child defending

Happy ending

Heaven glancing

Feet dancing…

 Power of the Cross.

Jesus Christ, Grace Incarnate.

Copyright 2013 Beth Moore 

I have never in my life experienced God’s grace as I have in the past three years.  I feel so unworthy but so blessed.

 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  Lamentations 3. 22-23

God’s in the tremors

With my surgery early in the morning, I cannot find rest.  In the meantime, I’ve been reading through some old entires and found this one.  God is so close by, even in the dark places, even in the tremors.  What mercy.

I don’t have much to say other than I’m afraid.  Honestly? I’m tired of all of this.  It’s not the life I would have chosen for myself, but as my mentor always reminds me, just like Jesus, we must say, “This is my portion and my cup.”  (Psalm 16) As nervous as I am, and as much as I look for God’s glory in all of this, I believe it will end up just fine (Romans 8), and I pray that God would use me and my story to bring Glory to His Kingdom.

Ann Voskamp posted a beautiful article on her blog yesterday entitled The Horse Principle and I dare you to read it right now.  A couple lines that resonated with me:

How did he know? That even when we’re broken, we battle onward, all the fixing coming in the moving forward… From where we stand, we can’t see whether it’s something’s good or bad. All we can see is that God’s sovereign and He is always good, working all things for good… My focus need only be on Him, to only faithfully see His Word, to wholly obey. Therein is the tree of life.

“Whatever You may do, I will thank You.
I am ready for all; I accept all.

Let only Your will be done in me…
And I’ll ask for nothing else, my Lord.“

~Charles de Foucauld

Do any of you feel like you’re with me right now? We don’t know why life is how it is, but despite that, we know that our beautiful Lord is sovereign and always good. If we know that, then why should we worry? Has he not come through again and again?

I truly believe: “All the fixing in the moving forward” (Ann Voskamp)

May we breathe in and out, YWHW, or Yah weh, calling our Lord with each breath even when we are too weak to utter words.  [How to Breathe Through Hard Times] He is with us, orchestrating something much bigger and grander than we can see right now.

Please pray for me tomorrow (Wednesday) and through the coming weeks as I recover from a very invasive surgery.  We are hoping this will be the last.  May God be glorified in our sufferings.  Only then can we endure the pain with joy and gratitude.

Remember, “God is always good and we are always loved.” – Ann Voskamp

Reconstructive surgery

The time has come.  As I’m nearing 3 years post-transplant and my incision has been cut open wide twice now, my transplant surgeon and the head of plastics/reconstructive surgery at the Cleveland Clinic have agreed to flip the green light on fixing the atrocity that has become my abdomen.  As some of you know, it was badly infected after my first surgery, so the second surgeon tried to close it to look better when he was done, but there really wasn’t much to make a large difference without gutting the whole thing and starting new.  So that’s what we’re doing at the end of the summer.

Yes, we are gutting my stomach just like a kitchen, ripping out the old, putting up the clean and new. I don’t think this journey will be a fun one, especially as I’m not required to do it.  You just go along with show when your life doesn’t have a chance.  But this is 100% my choice.

I’ve looked forward to this day for so long, but now that it’s here, I’m not sure if I want it.

You see, my stomach boldly shows all of my battle scars.  The staples, stitches, tubes, and drains.  I trace them when I’m falling asleep sometimes.  They are the only proof of my story, the only souvenir these past years of hell have left me with.  I don’t like what it is, but I like the idea of having it.  I’ve come to learn to ignore it pretty well and have long stopped getting sick every time I get out of the shower and have to look at it.  It’s a nuisance and affects my clothes and my posture, and it’s not pretty, so you’d think the decision would be easy.  But all 90 gashes surrounding my bold Mercedes-Benz logo, and each big bump where a tube or drain once fell from… they each so fully tell my story.  The agony, the pain, and the rising again.  It’s very symbolic to me. [Every time I say Mercedes-Benz I think of my friend Jenn S. who said, “Well at least it’s not a Hyundai.” #transplantfunny]

I will follow-through, but I’m sharing my mental process here as I know a lot of us are being transplanted younger and younger, these things are becoming issues.  I have no indication that this surgery for this reason has ever been done before, so if you feel like me and hope  someone has had good results from this , then I’m happy you’re here reading along.  I pray my experiences partially influence the future of transplants where you soon won’t have to look like you’ve had a near-death experience from the lines and grooves of your abdomen.  The memories are bad enough in my mind.  I don’t need them tattooed all over my skin.