Which brings me to the first thing I learned.
1. I was struggling to come up with a "One Word" for 2015. I process my thoughts pretty slowly (as most things I do) and was mulling over half a dozen words but they didn't quite fit. I was sitting in the rocking chair, while Jon was preparing supper, stirring something in a pot on the stovetop. I threw out the question, "Jon, what do you think my word should be for this year?" As fast as he could give that something one more stir, he tossed back the perfect word: "Endurance".
It was a reminder of how much we have grown together in the last half of 2014 and how much we need to keep pressing on in this race that has been set before us.
7. Words go well with tea or coffee or a sweet vanilla latte. I could never figure out why anyone would drink hot water, when all these other options are available, but it has become my "special-tea". Other than a morning coffee, I've been having a hard time drinking a full cup of tea since my surgery, so I tried hot water (so as not to waste all the tea and milk). I learned that this "special-tea" of mine is quite soothing and found that the plain and simple does me just fine right now, thank you.
2. Life, at times, feels like a marathon with the finish line never-ending-miles away, but in the grand scheme of things, it's really a 100 foot sprint. Life is a vapour and all life will fade away. So, I've learned once again that life doesn't always go the way we dream or plan. And along the way, God places people to cheer us on when we are not sure we can put one foot forward. In times of trial and transition, we need these people. We have been blessed with many.
When we found out that there were such people desiring to help our family in the area of our children's education while I continue to gain strength and recover, it made the transition from home to a small local Christian School so much easier than I could have ever imagined. And I've learned that my children have transitioned well.
I've also learned all about new things that come with "going to school" such as: "Have you unpacked your lunch-bag?" (or else the cut peppers that didn't get eaten for lunch are a smelly mess on Sunday evening), "Have you finished all your homework?" and such things like, "Look at the new dance move I learned in school today!"
3. I am a firm believer that fresh air and sunshine and the beauty of creation will do a lot to heal the body and mind. But, on days that I'm feeling crummy I don't necessarily want to step out into the freezing cold. So, yeah, I challenged myself at the beginning of the month to get outside everyday this year and snap a photo of something beautiful while I am out in the great outdoors. I've missed only once so far because it was minus-crazy degrees Celsius out (that converts to -30 something with the windchill) and my oxygen hose would have frozen in five seconds flat.
You can follow on Instagram, if you wish, and join me at the hashtag #greatoutdoors365. Let's get out there!
4. Playing games is another way that I've learned that has been helping me in my recovery. Part of the recovery process is emotional healing. Coming home after 80 days in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, I experienced shell-shock and ongoing Post-traumatic Stress from the surgery and prolonged stay in the hospital. It would be an understatement to say that coming home, although wonderful and what I had longed for, was extremely difficult. My Mom, helped me during these times, by playing board games with me—something to get my mind engaged in thoughts other than the negative ones of what had happened and what I thought was going to happen!
If you come for a visit, be prepared to play a game of Quirkle, Skip-Bo, Bananagrams, Card games, Settlers, Blokus, anything. I'll even play Vanna, in our vintage game of Wheel of Fortune. Just please don't ask me to play Uno or Risk (too many times).
An added bonus is that games are a fun way for four year olds to learn and review number sequencing, patterns, colours, and how to win and lose well (yeah, no mercy in games in this house).
5. The new hardware in my heart is noisy. The more quiet the house is (which is what has happened since the "First Day of School"—see number 2) the more I can hear my valve click shut. If you are ever sitting beside me in relative quiet, you might mistake me for a clock or a ticking time bomb. I'll be glad when I've learned to grow accustomed to the sound. For now, what I have learned is the best way I could explain it to my littlest one as I was tucking her into bed and she was concerned about "that sound—'do you hear THAT BOOM BOOM sound?'" was to tell her: "the ticking is because Dr. David fixed my heart that was sick and now we can hear this message (spoken in staccato): 'Ma-ma-loves-La-el-Ma-ma-loves-Lael'" over and over and over. She was delighted to hear that. But then, that got her thinking and the next thing she was trying to figure out was how that sound got there and her jaw dropped before she could say, with her hands punctuating her words, "You mean, Dr. David cut you open and cut open your heart! He, like, cut open your skin, and cut your heart!" Oh dear, the things we have to learn in life.
6. In a hot bath recently, I counted on my fingers all my nieces and nephews. There are enough that I keep forgetting the number and I think such profound thoughts like that late at night these days. I'm waiting for my sister to deliver her baby that will make me an Aunt for the 23rd time. She is on my mind a lot these days and in thinking about my sister's stage of waiting to deliver, for some reason it helped me to act as midwife to release some of my own words.
8. Water is a basic human need. As is oxygen. A wonderful thing I learned this month, and is an answer to the prayers of many, is how my body has healed in terms of the oxygen I needed. I came home from the hospital on assisted oxygen and had a 50 foot line trailing behind me, yanking on my nose whenever somebody's foot, mine or the others in the house, tripped on my 'tail'. No one could tell me for sure if my body would ever be able to be free from assisted oxygen. Healing takes time and the hardest thing to do when you want healing to come is wait for it. Which is why "Endurance" is such a good word for me this year (see number 1).
Well, for a few weeks now, my oxygen saturation stats have been holding stable during the day. It has been a lesson in how our bodies have been made to heal, but that healing takes time. And the only way to move forward is to take one step at a time, trusting in the One who heals.
". . . we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
And now after delivering all these words in the midst of a loud household on a Saturday, I need to go take a deep breath in the great outdoors, come in for a hot cup of my 'special tea', play a game or two of 'President' before a hot bath with the music (thank you Christa Wells and Nicole Witt for sharing your beautiful songs) cranked up loud to drown out the tick-tick-tick of my new heart valve.
Maybe then, I will hear that I've become an Aunt once again. (See number 6).