God's Story - the Starting Place


It all started right here.  In the middle of this lake….well, maybe not the middle exactly….but the deep.

It was early July 2013.  We were at the cottage for our annual July 4th summer trip.  Wisconsin.  Heat.  Humidity.  Fresh air.  The smell of water and trees….the sound of breezes whispering in the trees and little critters making their homes in the canopy.  Cracking fire to warm chilled bodies.  Towels hanging over chairs.  Children giggling….covered in dirt and sand and smiles.  Fish flopping about at the end of a line.  Splashing and swimming and sunshine making skin golden despite my attempts to keep it covered with sunscreen.

It was late afternoon, after 4:00.  This little lake has a "no wake" time after 4 pm, so that's when I like it most.  I'm a peace and quiet sort of girl.  I put my life jacket on, and swam out deep enough that I couldn't touch the bottom and I couldn't feel the weeds tickling my feet -- always gives me the heeby-geebies! Deep…deep….deeper…

I turn over so I'm facing the sky, and I go completely limp.  My arms and legs dangle….my head floats back….the water covers my body except for my face peeking out of the water and the front of the lifejacket bobbing at the surface of the water.  All I can hear is water, my heart beating, and the sound of air in and out of my lungs.  A cloud drifts overhead.  A bird flies by.

I pray.  I praise.  It's almost an out of body experience.

One word drifts into my mind….HOME.

I feel a shift in my mind, my soul.  Home.

I'm uneasy and a little scared. Home.

I doubt it.  I second guess it.  All in those 20 minutes on the water with God.  Home.

We travel to Wisconsin a lot. My folks live there, one of my sisters and her growing family lives there.  My extended family lives there.  But we don't just travel there….we grapple there….we struggle and seek and try there.

Every single time we go to Wisconsin, we ask ourselves the same question:  "Do we want to live here?"

Sometimes Luke says "yes" and I say "no".

Sometimes I say "yes" and Luke says "no".

Sometimes we both say "no".

Sometimes we both say "yes", but for all the wrong reasons.  We can't move our entire family….our entire lives so that we can please someone else.

We can't move for the cottage.

We can't move for the economy.

We can't move for the beauty of the place.

We can't move for the guilt of being away.

We can't move because we're running from something.

We can only make this move for one thing….A Calling.

There is One who knows us.  One who has a plan for us.  One whom we serve and honor with our lives.  It has to be for Him, and Him alone.

So this shift in my heart and soul….scared me.  For the first time since we've been contemplating and debating and striving…..I felt a Calling…. a whisper from Heaven that this place is Home.

The practical side of me gets snarky…."well that's just great, how the heck are we supposed to pull this off?  The job, the house, the kids….I don't see how we can do it!"

The emotional side of me needs my other half.  I tell Luke, "I think something is different.  I want this place for our family like I've never wanted it before.  It feels like home.  It feels like a calling.  I don't know what to do next."

Luke, in his wisdom, says what any man would say…."I can't think about this right now."

Ha!

But I'm excited.  I see it.  I feel it.  I love this place down to my bones….but I can't talk about it, and it's making me crazy.  I slip and jabber on about it a time or two, and I'm met with "Daiq, I know you're heart's in this right now, but I'm not there.  I really can't even give it any thought for some reason.  Let's let it rest until we get home, ok?"

Sigh.  Ok.

The waiting begins….

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Into the Deep



Where does one start when about to cast into the deep?

I've been sitting here looking out the window for 40 minutes, watching it rain.  A drop falls from the sky and joins her sisters in the puddle accumulating on my patio.  It feels like winter is breathing a deep sigh as it releases it's grip on the earth.  The ice is melting.  The giant snowballs that used to be in the shape of a man are disintegrating before my eyes.  I hear the water gurgling it's way down the gutters.  It it otherwise silent and peaceful….except for the words tumbling in my mind.

This verse….this message….has burned itself into my brain in the past few days.  There's something here.  There's something I'm supposed to know….to share.


"Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Jesus, Luke 5:4




The beginning of chapter 5 tells us that Jesus was speaking to a crowd of people, and they pressed in around Him.  I can see it, can't you?  He's talking and his words are life changing….life giving….cutting like a sword and filling empty places at the same time.  The hungry, thirsty, empty crowd presses closer to get more….more….more.  Jesus looks around for a better place to stand so he can be heard and seen by everyone.

He sees a couple of fishing boats at the edge of the lake….the fishermen are done with the night's fishing.  They have an air of frustration about them….they fished all night long and came up with nothing to show for it.  They're cleaning up….rinsing out nets, putting things in order for their next fishing trip.  They're probably looking forward to going to going home, putting on some clean clothes, and getting some rest.

Jesus walks right up to one of those boats, climbs in, and sits down.  The boat rocks a bit as he adjusts himself.  The boat belongs to a fisherman named Simon, who I imagine is looking at Jesus and thinking something along the lines of "what does he think he's doing?" ha!

Jesus asks him to put the boat out into the water a bit -- that boat on the water will be his stage….his podium.  He speaks….he teaches….from his place on the boat.  His voice bounces off the water, and everyone on shore can hear him perfectly.

Have you ever heard how sound bounces off water?  I was at the lake last summer with my family.  One of our favorite things to do when the water is calm is to drive the boat out to the deepest part of the lake, put life jackets on, and just swim and float around.  My husband and I were floating about 100 yards away from the boat.  My dad stayed on the boat to make sure it didn't drift away.  It felt like Luke and I had privacy because we were so far away and the little waves were splashing around us.  But something about dad's body language told me that he could hear us talking.  In my normal voice, I simply said, "Hi dad, can you hear me?"  Without even turning my direction he said, "Hi.  Yup."  It was the strangest sensation to experience how the water carried our voices!

That's what I imagine it's like as Jesus speaks to the crowd from his perch on that fishing boat.  He finishes his teaching and then...


That's when he said it.  "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."

I love Simon's response:  "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets."

And I love the result:  "When they did this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them.  And they came and filled both of the boats, so they began to sink."

And I love Simon's conclusion: "he fell down ant Jesus' feet, saying 'Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!' For amazement had seized him and all his companions because the catch of fish which they had taken…"

And finally, I love Jesus' reply to Simon's worship: "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men."

What do the fishermen do in response to this strange idea of fishing for men?

"they left everything and followed Him."!


Sweet story, right?  It's more than that though. It's the whole story - right there in a few paragraphs.

Jesus comes to the people to teach….to tell them who He is.  I've experienced this.  I've heard his voice, and I know that it IS…. Truth.  My very soul vibrates with the knowledge of who He is.  He is always with me, He loves me.  He knows everything about me, past…present…future.

But sometimes my mind is muddled.  I'm worried.  I'm caught up in the world.  I'm looking in the wrong direction.  Too many bodies stand between me and the Lord for me to really hear His message.  So He finds a way.  He is persistent.  He uses the flowers, the trees, the rain….the water….He uses everything around me to carry His message.  I am not alone.  He never leaves me.  I am His beloved.

And then He asks something outrageous of me.  Into the Deep.

He asks something scary of me.  Into the Deep

He ask something unnatural of me.  Into the Deep

Often, I reply with "But Master, we already did this and didn't catch any fish."

He says, "I know….Into the Deep."

"But Lord, this doesn't make sense"

I know…Into the Deep.

"But Jesus, how can this be?  I'm afraid!"

I know…. the Deep, my love.

Finally, I have little choice.  He is all I see.  All I hear.  I'm still uncertain.  I'm still confused.  I'm still afraid.  But His voice….it cuts.  It consumes.  It comforts.  It presses me past what I would normally do…even consider doing!  An act of obedience and faith is all that is left…

I will do as you say and let down the nets

And then it happens….




Blessing heaped upon blessing.  So much blessing I stand aside and just giggle at the enormity of it.  I wonder why I ever doubted….why I ever feared.  He had this plan all along!  Even during the dry time…the night of fishing with no luck….He knew that the frustration and discouragement and failure could be used for good.

Such blessing that it's like something out of a cartoon.  Fish practically jumping out of the water and into my boat.

Blessing in abundance to the point that I literally think I will sink.  I will drown in blessings….what a way to go!

I am flabbergasted!  Awestruck!  Humbled.  It's obvious that this is more than luck.  It is more than coincidence.  It is certainly beyond what I could do myself even on the best of days.  I couldn't even IMAGINE this type of result, never mind make it happen.      

No.  This is not me.  This is God Almighty.  But why?

Because it's not just me -- everyone around me can see that there's something extraordinary happening here.  They can see that I am nothing special, but that I have been blessed beyond measure.

"Maybe", they think.  "Maybe this Jesus she talks about….just maybe there's something to Him."

Glory to God…to use blessings to display His might instead of the proverbial lightening bolt from Heaven.  He speaks in a voice of love and goodness to show who He is.

I get the tiniest taste of who He is.  I tremble uncontrollably and fall at His feet…."I am not worthy, Lord."

I feel Him smile at me.  His gentle hand rests on my head, and He says "Do not fear.  From now on, I have something extraordinary for you.  I have even better things ahead for you!"

So here I am…dropping everything to follow Him.  The giver of life.  The giver of blessings.  The Healer of broken hearts and shattered lives.  The One who asks the impossible and uses it for His glory.

I want to be a vessel for Him.  I want to give all I have in giving glory to Him.

Does that sound strange to you?  If you know Him, it probably doesn't.

But if you don't know Him, you might think He's quite the egomaniac to ask people to drop everything, follow Him, and spend their lives giving Him glory!

But no…His glory, my friend, it is for us.  Who He is.  What He did.  Who He wants to be in our lives... is POWER.  Power to heal and bless.  Power to forgive.  Power to love.  Power to re-birth and create.  Power to Save for all eternity.

If you see good in me, my friends, know that it is not really me you see.  If you see anything good, enviable, peaceful, noble, kind, or fruitful….If you see success and blessings poured out in a disproportionate manner in my life….know that it is not of me.

What you see is Jesus.  Call to Him.  Invite Him in.  You can trust Him with everything.  Ask Him to save you and to be the Lord of your life.

As for me….I'm standing in the boat with Jesus.  I'm a bit nervous.  I'm a bit uncertain.  Physical law doesn't seem to apply any longer, and I don't know what to expect.  But I will do it.  I'll cast my net when He tells me to….

...Into the Deep






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Decisions



Well, this is just surreal.  I'm looking at my brain on this screen, and discussing options with my neurosurgeon.  Wait.  What?  Did I just say that?  Is this my new normal?

Actually, I'm feeling really good.  Positive.  Happy.  Hopeful.  Peaceful. Safe.  I can't tell if I'm in a thick fog of protective denial....or if this is that "Peace that surpasses understanding".

Whatever.  I'll take it!

Here's what we learned today:
-  There is risk in not treating my aneurysm.  The risk is that it can burst and kill me.  Given it's small size however, the risk is also quite small.

-  There is risk in learning more through an angiogram study of my brain (inject dye into my blood, and then take more defined pictures.  The risk here is GREATER than not treating such a small aneurysm.

- There are 2 surgical options:  "coiling" or "clipping"

- Coiling is risky with the small size of my aneurysm.  There's a decent (enough) chance that the lump of coil they'd fill the aneurysm with would break loose and cause a stroke.  The risk here is GREATER than not treating the aneurysm.

- Clipping involves cutting into my skull, folding back the orbital bone around my eye so the doctor can basically lift my brain up and get to the aneurysm to clip it off.  This is the easy way to clip vs. going THROUGH my  brain to get to the problem area.  The risk here, again, is GREATER than not treating it.

Can we all just take a moment to close our eyes, breathe deep, and *shudder* with the horror 
of this thought....because, really, holy sh*#!!  

So, my path forward is to wait and have another MRI in 6 months to see if the aneurysm is growing (and if so, how quickly) or staying the same. If it's growing quickly, then we'll fix it.  At that point, coiling would be a better option too because with a bigger aneurysm, the coil is more likely to stay put. If it's not changing or changing very slowly, then we can avoid or further postpone surgery.

When I first learned of this time bomb in my brain, my immediate and consuming thought was GET IT OUT.  NOW.  I just couldn't fathom waiting around for the thing to blow.

But now, especially after learning more about the torture treatment options and their risks....I'm pretty darn happy to wait.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.  My body rests in safety.  Psalm 16:9


****************

PS.  A side (and possibly entirely inappropriate) note.  The guy on the right is my neurosurgeon.  Now you tell me....does he not look like Dr. McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy?!


I've been cracking up this afternoon because after the appointment,  I just couldn't stop smiling.  I'm SERIOUSLY relieved to not have brain surgery!  But when I said, "Why can't I stop smiling?!" to my dear Luke, he said

"Maybe Dr McDreamy cauterized and healed your aneurism from the outside with his studly hotness!"  LOL!

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Priorities


There's nothing like a week spent contemplating and preparing for my own mortality to help priorities come sharply into focus.  To be perfectly honest, when I first heard the news, I didn't know how this would shake out....would the things I've been focused on still be important to me?

Sometimes, yes....my husband, my kids, my parents, my sisters and their families, my friends.

Sometimes, no....cleaning house, wondering what people think of me, losing weight.

Sometimes, surprises....I've spend the last week being intensely aware of how physically far away I am from my folks....I HATE that.

Sometimes, more surprises....business....honestly, I thought it might be one of the things that I would no longer care so much about.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.

I even had a friend ask me (after I shared my news with her), "do you still feel compelled to work your business, or have your priorities changed now?" Without pause, I answered "More compelled than ever!"


As I think about why this is, I realize the reason is my mission.  If I were only seeing to make money for money's sake, I'm sure this wouldn't be a priority for me.  If I were only seeing status or recognition or fame, this wouldn't be a priority for me.

But I'm seeking freedom.
I'm seeking abundant life.
I'm seeking to help other men and women build something that will bless their families for generations.
I'm seeking freedom and abundant life for every person who partners with me.
I'm seeking to be used by God to change people's lives.

Until now, I believed all of this was possible.  I was seeing things changing in my own life, and I know I can help others too.  But now?  The rubber is hittin' the road in my life, friends. And all my big talk in the past 3 years about time and financial freedom? I'm here to say with 100% certainty....IT IS POSSIBLE....and it's been so precious to me during this tough time.

I mean, LOOK AT MY LIFE! This business...
...Provides for my family of six. And it will continue to provide for them if something happens to me.
...Allows me the financial freedom to go to a specialist wherever he/she may be.

...Allows me to be with my family and do what is most important to me. 
...Makes it possible for me to go to the doc at any time, without asking for medical leave or taking a cut in pay. 
...Is the reason for my life being filled with supportive and encouraging and praying friends.

I can't imagine NOT having this freedom, meaning, and joy-- life is too dang short!

Bottom line:  THIS IS LESS ABOUT BUSINESS, AND ALL ABOUT MAKING THE MOST OF LIFE. And right now, while I'm acutely aware of how precious and short life is....making the most of it is my top priority.




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Aneurysm Details

Of course, the brain is a busy place....lots of blood and electricity flowing through that crazy mass of grey matter at any given moment.  According to my medical records, "A 1.5 mm diameter aneurysm is suspected at the anterior communicating artery region."

What does that mean?  Well....not a whole lot by my layman's interpretation.  It's just a basic description of the general place in my brain which contains the ugly little SOB.  It also describes the aneurism by size.  1.5 mm is TINY.  So the good news is that this was caught very early.

It's also interesting that I had an MRI 3 years ago after a family member was diagnosed with an aneurysm.  That scan was completely normal, so this a new development in my head.






I can not find a description of the shape, which seems pretty important.  There are a couple of different types of treatments, and shape plays a factor in deciding which direction to take.  I imagine the specialist I'm scheduled to see this coming week will be able to tell me more.

The family member who had an aneurysm, had a berry shape.  It'll be interesting to see what shape mine is.




As I've been sharing this news with people, a common question is "Why did you have an MRI in the first place?"

Good question - MRI isn't exactly a small deal!  The answer is I was having insane headaches when I tried to exercise.  As in drop me to the floor, I would cry or puke if I could move, hold a pillow over my eyes and moan.....insane pain.  The worst headache I ever experienced.  The first time one of those headaches happened, I thought it was a fluke.  Then it happened a second time and was even more excruciating than the first.  I made a doctor appointment to ask what she thought it might be.  Given my family history, she ordered an MRI....and here we are.

Another common question is "What's the worst case scenario?"

Well....a rupture would be the worst.  Only about 50% of people survive a rupture and a very small percentage of survivors escape without long term brain damage.  It's impossible to know when an aneurysm will rupture.  There is no set size at which there is most commonly a "blow-out", as I've been calling it.  Some people are walking around right now with a 6 mm aneurysm and are not having problems (although, they should get to a doc asap!).  Like I said, mine is just at 1.5 mm.  It's a pretty decent assumption that I'm not in immediate danger.  But who knows?  Mine could be on the verge of rupture and we'd have no way of knowing.

I don't share that doomsday scenario to be scary or morbid....thinking like this helps me keep perspective and reminds me that I don't have the luxury of sweeping this aside to deal with later.  And believe me....there are lots of times I'd like to just pretend this isn't happening.

Another frequent question is "What's your next step?"

My next step is to see a specialist this coming week.  That doctor will give me his opinion regarding next steps.  Like I said, I also have a copy of my records.  I got those documents so I can send them to a couple other doctors for their opinions.  I'm especially interested to get feedback from the rock-star who repaired my family members' aneurysms with success.

And, of course, people want to know, "How do they treat this?"

From my limited research and family experience, there are 4 options.  One - wait and observe.  If they check again in 6 months or a year and this thing is still at 1.5 mm, that would tell us a lot about the speed at which it's growing.  Two, Three, & Four -- surgery.  I won't go into details about surgery until the doc gives me advice about which surgery he'd recommend.  Needless to say, I'm not real crazy about the idea of brain surgery.  However, I'm even less crazy about the "wait and observe" path -- I just don't like the feeling of a time-bomb in my brain.


Ok - I'm done talking about this for tonight.  I can only talk so much before the veil of denial starts to lift from my eyes and mind an I start to really THINK about this.  Freaks me out!

Hug your loves tonight, friends.  xoxo Daiq



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