Thursday, July 16, 2015

Even If...

Want to know what one of my least favorite things to hear from someone is?

"God never gives us more than we can handle."


If God never gave us more than we could handle, Daniel wouldn't have faced the lions, Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego wouldn't have been thrown in the fiery furnace, Mary wouldn't have become the mother of Jesus, Noah wouldn't have built the ark, David wouldn't have beaten Goliath, I could go on.

God OFTEN gives us WAY, WAY more than we can handle.

It's not as if God comes up to each of us and gives us a choice of our struggles and challenges, each with their own difficulty ratings. You can choose a medical problem with a rating of 4 out of 5 for physical difficulty, 3 out of 5 for emotional, and 3 out of 5 for spiritual OR you can pick a financial struggle with a 2 out of 5 for physical, 4 out of 5 for spiritual, and 3 out of 5 for emotional OR a job issue with ratings of 2 of 5 for physical, 4 of 5 for emotional, and 3 of 5 for spiritual. Which do you want?

Instead it's more like God comes up to us as the tornado is ripping the room off our house and tells us that we will be going through a struggle that on a scale from 0 to 10 is going to rate about bungee-jumping-without-a-cord-would-be-less-painful...but it's okay because He'll be with us...

Except it doesn't always feel that way.

Sometimes it feels like we've been left out to dry and forgotten about. We pray and feel like there is no way our prayers can make it through the thick, dark clouds that seem to be endlessly hovering over us. The weight of everything we are dealing with feels so heavy we can't stand up straight. We can hope and trust and believe but things still don't get better.

And that is hard to understand...

The song Even If by Kutless does a good job of expressing in words how I feel. Here are the lyrics:

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God, You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though you reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

There is another chorus and refrain and other musical verse things, but this is the core message of the song. That's what Daniel, and Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego, and Mary, and Noah, and David got. When life doesn't match up with what we thought, the only things that we can KNOW is true is who God is. Jobs change, health changes, finances change, relationships change, God never changes.

And that's what I try to hold onto. I'll be honest, I haven't picked up my Bible in weeks. I've barely journaled. It's too hard. My prayers feel like they're hitting the endless clouds that have been hovering over Ohio this entire summer. I haven't been able to meet up with my Bible study girls in months because I feel like I'm constantly on the edge of a bad reaction. I'm tired (just not now...hello 2 am) of being sick.

Right now, heartache has been hitting my family like Hurricane Sandy. Healing has not come (yet). My dreams of this summer, my career, and life in general are undone and not what I had thought they would be. At times, the life that I knew feels like it has fallen apart.

But God is still God, and He is still good. He is forever faithful. His ways are not my ways, but He loves me more than I could ever imagine or deserve. And right now that's all I have to hold onto.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Time to Reset the Counter

You know how workplaces often have a sign on the foreman's door that says "Welcome to our company! It has been ______ days since the last accident." Sometimes it feels like we need one in our apartment.
Welcome to the Boka's!
It has been _____ days since our last date night!

As you may remember, we jokingly like to refer to our ER visits as date nights. Anyway, I unfortunately must announce that our previous record of approximately 6 weeks has come to an end. We are now on day 2 post-date night.

On the bright side, at least we didn't get to the ER, have them ask what caused this episode of anaphylaxis, and have to fumble through our words explaining that it was idiopathic and we had no idea. This time I had a "normal" anaphylactic reaction. 

I'm allergic to milk. We've known that for years, but I've never needed to use my Epi pen for it before. I'm very careful whenever we go out to friends' houses or restaurants and never eat anything I'm not sure about. Even at home, Nick and I are super careful about making sure we don't mix silverware or baking sheets...but not drinking glasses...

After drinking almost and entire glass of water, I started to feel really bad. I knew something was wrong, and I think at that point even had an idea I might need my Epi pen, but didn't know why. I was trying to put some medication down my J tube and had asked Nick for some warm water to flush my tube with when he made the discovery. Turns out there had been a ring of milk residue on the bottom of the glass that I had been drinking out of.

I quickly finished taking my meds hoping that would delay my reaction, and we immediately headed to the ER. Usually we go to an ER that is about 20-25 minutes away, but this time we went to one that is only 10-15 minutes. About 5 minutes into our drive, I started wheezing and could feel my throat getting tight. I reached for my Epi pen, took off the safety (yep, just like a gun, has a safety =P), and froze.

I know how to use the Epi pen. I've practiced with the fake, no-needle ones that come in the package. I'm not scared of it...but I froze. I couldn't do it.

Thankfully Nick is very skilled at driving and stabbing me at the same time, and he quickly gave it to me. But that was a terrifying moment when for whatever reason I felt like I couldn't have given it to myself had my life depended on it (cause it did).

Nick had called ahead (it's like making a reservation at a restaurant, see, it really is like a date!) so the doctors were ready for us when we got there. The nurses started working on getting an IV as soon as we arrived, and the one nurse was great and doing her best to work around the tremors that I get from the Epi pen. 

However, there is always SOMEONE who doesn't get it...and I didn't even have really unusual stuff going on! One nurse kept telling me I needed to stop shaking and hold still so she could get an IV started....when I'm pumped full of epinephrine...yeah, that wasn't happening. She was getting so irritated at me and telling me I could control the shaking if I wanted to...because apparently I enjoy getting stabbed 4+ times because my veins keep blowing the least the other nurse got it...

So we reset our counter. How many days since the ER? Only 2, but hopefully we will be able to go even longer than 6 weeks this time!

If anyone has any tips on being able to use the Epi pen on myself, please let me know! I don't know what happened...I know how to use it, and I'm not scared of it, but in the moment I froze...anyone have a similar experience or can offer suggestions??

Monday, July 6, 2015

Enjoying the Moment

Enjoying the moment. Sounds so easy to do when you're actually IN the moment, but sometimes when you don't WANT to be in the moment, it's not so easy after all.

I'm a planner. I like to know what's coming; I like to know that everything is coordinated and under control. I'm always thinking one hour, day, week ahead. I really don't think there is anything wrong with planning ahead and being prepared. It's only a problem when that planning hours, days, and weeks in advance takes over from being able to focus on and enjoy the current moment.

Yesterday was a great example. Twice...

Nick and I spent the holiday weekend at a friend's river house enjoying water sports and spending time with family and friends. We had been looking forward to this weekend pretty much since last year (we've spent the last few 4th of July weekends with our friends). It's a great time of fun and relaxing. Although with my family it also consisted of 8 miles of run/walking, 4 miles of kayaking, some biking and probably other workouts that I've forgotten about. =P

Side note: 4 miles of kayaking is WAY farther than it sounds...running 4 miles vs. kayaking 4 miles, COMPLETELY different, especially considering it uses those small muscles that we often forget actually exist.

Anyway, we had a great time jet skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, fireworking, etc. Here's where enjoying the moment comes into play. While it's a ton of fun, our friend's house is about 6.5 hours from Ohio. It was a long drive there Friday morning. We were so glad to finally arrive, and were definitely NOT looking forward to the return trip. I was able to not think about the upcoming drive all day Saturday and just have fun, but Sunday morning I woke up antsy.

I didn't want the weekend to come to an end, but I was also mentally checking out. I knew we were leaving around noon, and I knew we had a super long drive ahead of us. It would have been very easy for me to give in to the antsy-ness. Like I said, I'm a planner so I like to move from one task to the next. That morning I was starting to mentally check out from our fun weekend.

One thing that God has been teaching me through being sick and also through my husband is to slow down and enjoy each moment as it comes. It's completely against my nature, but I'm learning. Yesterday was a great chance for me to practice! Nick had been really wanting to wakeboard the whole weekend but either the water conditions weren't right or the boat wasn't working. Sunday morning, things finally fell into place. Had I been rushing around trying to get packed up to go home, I would have missed out on one last ride on the boat and watching Nick learn to wakeboard. Plus I probably would have taken some of the fun away from Nick as my antsy-ness would have irritated him and made him annoyed or frustrated. I put all thoughts of leaving out of my head and was able to just focus on taking videos of Nick working on standing up on the wakeboard.

As we were getting ready to leave, I realized that I had really enjoyed the morning despite knowing we were going to have to leave. On previous trips, I might have been consumed with preparing to leave and missed the fun of the morning. Instead, I was able to actually enjoy the last few hours we had with our friends. Yay! Honestly, I was feeling a bit like I had made a huge step in this area of my life.

But apparently God thought I still needed some practice...

About 2 hours into our drive back to Ohio, our car started overheating. This has been an ongoing problem since the first time it overheated about a year ago. Despite replacing pretty much everything under the hood (except, as we found out, the head gasket), the problem had persisted. It was fine on our drive TO Maryland, but on the way home, not so much.

After slowly limping along I-70 W, we finally made it to Breezewood, PA. Yay! Oh wait, it was now about 5 pm on Sunday on a holiday weekend...yeah...don't these things always happen at the most convenient times? =P My fantastic in-laws were so gracious in coming to pick us up in PA and are loaning us a car until we can figure out what we are going to do with ours. In the meantime, we had about 3.5 hours to kill in Breezewood while we waiting for them to get to us.

I'll be honest, (mostly because my husband reads this blog and he'll probably call me out if I'm not =P Love you, Nick!) I started to get anxious and have a freak out moment. We were having to leave our car 3.5 hours from home, had no idea where to get it fixed or how to get it there, plus we found out the head gasket can be one of the most expensive parts to replace...add that on top of being tired of traveling, frustrated with the situation, and just being wiped out from a fun was a perfect recipe for me getting a bit (or a lot) cranky.

But, like I said, I'm learning! I did have my moments of anxiety and freaking out a bit, but after I took a step back to look at the big picture and only focus on the things that we could control, I was able to let go of my worry and relax. Nick and I stopped at Sheetz for a slurpee, then walked down the road to a sports bar. The Women's World Cup Finals were on TV (USA USA USA!!!) so we had a leisurely dinner while we watched the game and waited for his parents.

It was a great evening. The game was super exciting (USA won 5-2 over Japan), and Nick and I were able to have dinner together in a restaurant which we haven't done in months. Once I reminded myself there was nothing I could do about our situation and being frustrated or anxious would not accomplish anything, I was able to just enjoy the moment.

Had I stayed anxious and worried and kept stressing over what we are going to do with the car, I would not have been able to just enjoy those few hours watching the game and enjoying time with Nick. That doesn't mean I'm not doing what I can to figure out what options we have for the car, but it means that I recognized that last night there was nothing I could do and worrying would have only kept us from having a good time instead of accomplishing anything productive.

I'm thankful for a good weekend of fun, friends, family, faith, and freak-outs (or lack there of, I couldn't come up with another f-word that was blog appropriate =P). I DID enjoy each moment during the weekend and was able to let go of my worry and anxiety about our car situation.

I wish I could learn some of these lessons without actually having to be in these situations, but I know God's got it under control. Plus, there is always something to be thankful for. I had a great weekend physically (with a minor exception of a "date night" Thursday night), and was able to eat a little fruit and baked potato. No issues at all, which is huge. God is good! Actually He is always good, but it's nice to FEEL His goodness sometimes as a reminder.

On that, I'll end this long post with a quick question:

Anyone know a reputable mechanic in Breezewood, PA?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Water Park Fun

Last weekend Nick and I had planned to go camping! We were really excited since we hadn't had a chance to use our tent yet. We had a packing list, all our gear set up, all Bonk's stuff ready...then we checked the forecast...if you were in or around northeast Ohio last weekend, you can probably testify that out of all the weekends we could have chosen to go camping, we probably picked the worst one in June...

So we wimped out...yep, not ashamed to admit that we decided to enjoy our warm, dry bed instead of shivering on the wet ground with a soggy dog trying to get as close to us as possible because he's scared of the thunder...Nick and I both love outdoor adventures, but within reason =P

After cancelling our weekend plans, we found ourselves with a wide open weekend...when does that happen??? We took Saturday to relax and just hangout at home, but we decided to do something excited on Sunday. (Hint: if you read the title of this post, you know where this is going.)

At the beginning of the summer, we created a summer bucket list for us to do. We've actually been quite successful at checking things off our list! One of those was going to a water park. With our free weekend, we decided to take advantage and check another item off our list! Since the forecast was still rainy and cold on Sunday, we wisely decided to find an indoor water park to enjoy.

There are a couple parks within a few hours drive of where we live, but they were either a bit too pricey for us or looked kinda lame. We finally found one in Erie, PA that seemed to be a good mix of water park features and a reasonable price, plus they gave 50% off for students!

We. Had. A. Blast.

The past few weeks I've been feeling pretty down and struggling mentally, so it was nice to get out and do something fun. Even though I didn't last all day, and we left earlier than we planned, it was a huge blessing to be able to get out and enjoy something other than walking from the couch to the bathroom without feeling dizzy. We had a few hours of crazy fun on body slides, tube slides, and the wave pool. Herman didn't even interrupt the fun! I just covered the tube site with a water proof pad and tucked him into my board shorts and we were good to go! We did every slide there (even the two in the kids section =P) and did many of them more than once. For an indoor water park, the slides were really fun!

Story time:

Toward the end of the day, we were climbing the stairs to go down another slide when a lady stopped us because Nick was bleeding on his back. Some of the slides you rode down on tubes, but others were body slides, so we just lay on our backs. One of our favorites was one of these body slides, and Nick had scraped his back on the tube seams.

Here's the funny part: we had to go find the First Aid people to get him a bandage to cover the scrape so he wouldn't be a health hazard to everyone. Did you catch that?? We had to go to First Aid for NICK, NOT ME! Haha =) Just a little humor to make you smile.

We have another fun weekend planned to enjoy the holiday weekend. We are staying busy, and enjoying the time we get to spend with each other and see our family and friends. Hope everyone has a great Fourth of July!