Friday, September 28, 2007

Not As Holey As I Used to Be (In a Good Way)

When I took off the dressing on my back hole (or the artist formerly known as the back hole) on Sunday morning, I realized there wasn't any drainage on the bandage. I quickly turned around to look in the mirror. Sure enough, there's no more hole. There's just a scar and divot, which will be great for keeping my back from flooding when I'm laying face down in the rain.

I had my last ET nurse visit yesterday, which consisted of marveling at the lack of hole where they don't naturally occur and saying goodbyes. Also, as of today, I'm finished taking antibiotics. It's hard to believe there's no one left to visit or nothing left to do aside from restoring my body to its former perfection, which will be a cinch I'm sure.

I spent the first half of this week in Abilene doing some house and job hunting. I was successful in the housing department and am somewhat hopeful in the job arena. My brother, who's going to be my roommate as soon as he gets a job in Abilene, drove down on Monday, and we hit the real estate market hard. After scouring the four corners of the earth, our eyes rested on 1949 Beckham, which I can now proudly say is my current residence. It was pretty sweet how it worked out. We didn't have to sign a year lease and she gave me the keys before I even paid her rent. I'm officially moving to Abilene on Saturday. So, if anyone has extra furniture, kitchen stuff or anything you think would be useful to me, I'd be glad to relieve you of it.

This whole move to Abilene is still so weird to me. Most days I'm pretty bipolar in how I feel about it. On one hand, moving there is great, because I already have a dozen good friends there and I know the town. On the other hand, it seems so much less exciting than what I've become accustomed (maybe a little addicted) to, and I can already tell I'm going to have to fight the cynicism I left Abilene with after college. What I'm starting to see is that I have to learn to marry the mundane with the magnificent, dovetail the dull with the dynamic, and orchestrate the ordinary with the outrageous. With the simplest of actions and thoughts, I can take part in the Kingdom of Heaven coming - the most exciting thing happening on this planet. There is adventure in Abilene, no matter how disguised it may seem.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Quick Health Update

I had my tri-weekly dressing change with the ET nurse today. The hole on my back is small enough now that she's using this super glue type stuff called Cellerate to finish off the back wound. It's made of collagen and smells like foot sweat (Don't worry. You can't smell it unless you put your nose up to the tube it comes out of). What's really exciting is that I got rid of my Wound V.A.C. today. That's right! No more man-purse. I feel a little naked now though. It feels weird to not have to pick it up and watch out for tubes all the time... but not a bad feeling. All that's left to do is a few more checkups and applying the Cellerate daily until it's all healed up. Also, the shingles I had were knocked out quick once I started taking the medicine five times a day. I was blessed enough to not have much pain. Thanks for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Change of Plans

Part of me still can't believe I'm typing this right now, but here it goes... I'm not moving to Seattle, and I'm moving back to Abilene. I know that quickly you have 1 of 2 reactions (I know, because I've had both of these on some level). You're either excited, because I'll be closer to family and (some of my) friends or disappointed, because it sounds like I'm taking the easy, less adventurous road moving back to the ACU bubble. Before you rush to any conclusions, let me tell you how this U-turn jumped onto my path and why I'm excited about it.

When I made the decision to move to Seattle, it wasn't in response to some writing-on-the-wall occurrence, but rather looking for what I saw as the best option so that I could begin moving forward again and God could order my path. When I told a friend about my change of plans he made a really good point. He exhorted me to be more careful in saying something was God's will. He's totally right. I went back and reread the blog where I announced I was moving to Seattle and I really did use some strong language. The things I cited as pros were true, but I definitely gave them more weight than I should have. So I feel I need to apologize about being deceptive even if I wasn't purposely doing it with evil intent. What I should have said is "here are the facts, so I'm going to start heading that direction", or as it says in the Bible, "if it is God's will I'll do this or that tomorrow." With that being said, I'm doing my best to not over or under exaggerate what my perception of God's voice is. It's exciting to personally interact with the living God, and I'm learning to be zealous about acting upon what I see and hear God showing me while at the same time not doing or saying things in God's name that are in fact not. I never want to make a decision out of fear or making myself feel better, but only seek to be a part of showing God's glory to the world as I honor Him in my body. So here's what I got now...

As I began making plans and telling people I was moving to Seattle, what God was telling me through prayer, scripture and people wasn't meshing as well with the Seattle move as I'm used to happening normally. I wasn't super bothered by this, not wanting to put God into a formula, but knew I needed to still attentively listen God about the direction of my next season in life. What I began hearing from God was basically, "Don't try and take control of this and make it your own thing. Don't rush, but wait for me to show you a different purpose that you don't already know. I'm preparing good things for you, but don't get caught up in the place you're going." After hearing that, the purpose I felt God giving me through scripture was that I had started to learned to follow the Spirit (as you can see not perfectly yet), but it was time to start fully walking out the simplest parts of the Gospel like taking caring widows and orphans, giving to the poor, loving my enemies, praying for those who persecute me, giving to anyone who asks of me, loving God with every part of me and loving my neighbor as myself. I could see God telling me through scripture, that without these foundational things in my life, having "spiritual" experiences or finding my "calling" would only be like gilding my life. Doing the things God already tells us He blesses and loves is so important. God's not tricky when he tells us to do these things. In addition to this, there were things I wanted to happen in Seattle, that as I prayed about them, I was getting an unexpected 'no'. I didn't know how to take all of this until a few days ago, when fuzzy things started coming into focus and pieces started falling into place.

Last weekend, I went to Abilene just to catch up with friends before I took off for the northwest. You have to understand that when I graduated, I couldn't wait to get out of Abilene for multiple reasons which is a whole other story, and I had not once considered Abilene as the next step in my path. On Saturday, I grabbed some Whataburger breakfast with a friend and we talked about many things. As we plotted and dreamed about our roles in the kingdom of God, I was excited about doing God's work like I haven't been in a months. As we encouraged and counseled each other, I could see certain hopes and dreams taking on flesh for the first time. Late that night, I was restless and couldn't sleep. I got out of bed and wrote some emails hoping to wear my brain out. I got back into bed and talked with God. I asked Him what in the world He was doing with me right now, because I couldn't see it and admitted to Him how helpless and unable to do anything truly good I was without Him. At the moment, I felt totally paralyzed and realized my desire to go to Seattle was gone. The only things I was holding onto there were my friendship with Ross and maybe a little bit of my ego. So I gave up and asked God, "What now? What does your will being done on earth as it is in heaven look like right now?" At 4 a.m., I finally drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I felt a dim peace. As the day went on I continued to wrestle with it and discussed it with a few friends. Finally, on the drive back to Arlington, I started to see clearly what God had been doing all along. I saw God's guidance and the puzzling answers to prayer all fit together one by one. After about an hour of driving, I felt like I emerged from a cloudy haze and all the sudden, I was filled with joy about moving to Abilene and not Seattle. It was so weird, but the feeling was so familiar. I don't know about you, but it usually seems that when God powerfully leads me, it's never anything close to my idea. It's usually not something I was thinking about at all (the whole "His ways are not like our ways" thing). This is another stellar example for sure. After doing a little self-examination making sure this wasn't my flesh seeking the easy route, the only source of apprehension I had left was not being able to partner in God's work with Ross. When I got back in Arlington, I called him up to discuss my moving to Seattle. After talking through some things, I told him what I had been experiencing in Abilene and my possible change of plans. After conversing about it, he agreed that I should stay in Texas. Even though he was saddened we wouldn't be living together, he was excited about my new direction. After I hung up the phone, I just sat there wide-eyed and thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm moving back to Abilene."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Surgeons and Shingles

Last Friday, I had a checkup with my surgeon. He checked me out and cleared me for any physical activity I feel like! That means on Saturday, I drove for the first time in 2 months. It was glorious. It felt so good to feel independent again. In general, I've just been feeling so much better. My energy level has improved so much. At this point, the only thing holding me back is the wound on my back closing up. It's very small, but not quite there yet.

Before I get carried away with too much good news, I might as well throw in that I've got shingles. For those of you who don't know what that is (I didn't before today), it's related to the chicken pox. Basically, I have a few bumps on the left side of the back of my neck and head running up a nerve. So far, it's been pretty uncomfortable and occasionally itchy, but I hear it can be extremely painful. So, it looks like it's more good times ahead for me. It's viral and usually related to being stressed (I haven't felt too emotionally stressed, but my body's gone through a bit), but not very contagious. You only have to worry about catching it from me if you've never had chicken pox and you use my towel or something of the like. I'm taking pills 5 times a day for it, and it should run its course in a few weeks.

In summary, I continue to improve rapidly, but I'd appreciate your continued prayers for the wound on my back and my newly acquired shingles.