Monthly Archives: May 2010

Going Back To What I Know

This week has been awful.  Absolutely awful.

My husband has a heart condition.  His right ventricle doesn’t like to wait its turn.  It wants to beat early.  So sometimes he has double beats or triple beats.  Sometimes his heart races and his heart rate will go from 79 to 150 in a few seconds.   Sometimes he will be sitting still, doing absolutely nothing, and his heart will go into ventricular tachycardia (vtach).  And if you know anything about hearts and medicine, you’ll know that’s not a good thing.

Because of this heart condition, last year he had a defibrillator implanted.  It’s called an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator).  It saves his life.  If his heart starts into a run of vtach and it lasts for more than 4 seconds, his ICD will work to pace his heart out of vtach.  If the pacing doesn’t work, then the ICD can shock him back to a normal rhythm.

The first line of defense, though, is medicine.  And he was on a great medicine — the first choice for people with his condition.  And for a year and 4 months, his heart responded well to the medication and he did not need the ICD to pace him out of vtach very often, and he never needed the ICD to actually shock him.

But something happened and his heart stopped responding well to the medicine.  So he began having a boatload of crazy heart rhythms.  And then last Saturday, he passed out and had sort of a seizure from a lack of oxygen to his brain because his heart wasn’t pumping blood out of his heart.  So we went to the ER.  They admitted him to the hospital & spent the next couple days letting all of the old medicine get out of his system.  Then on Monday, they discharged him and started him on a new medicine.  His heart had been pretty steady all day Sunday and all day Monday.

We’d been home from the hospital for like 5 minutes when he had a long run of vtach.  The ICD tried to pace him out of it, but it couldn’t.  So it shocked him.  He screamed — a deep from the gut, howl-like, man-scream.  The kids started crying.  I ran to him and helped him sit down.  That shock didn’t get his heart back into rhythm.  So it shocked him again.  It hurt and it scared the bejeebies out of him, out of all of us.  He cried.  The kids cried.  I called 911.

Tuesday morning, it shocked him again.  And again.

He was admitted back into the hospital.  Tuesday afternoon, he was sitting in the bed, not moving, and his heart was just going berserk.  He had runs of vtach.  At times, his heart even started going into ventricular fibrillation.  That’s when it’s just beating so erratically, it’s not effectively pumping blood anywhere.  Each time, his ICD paced him out of it.  But each time, he braced himself for another shock.  He couldn’t seem to have 2 normal heartbeats in a row all day.  It was horrible.  One of the worst days of my life.  We both thought he was going to die.   But he didn’t. I’m thankful for that.

He is still in the hospital.  His doctors want him to have 24 – 48 hours of normal, steady heart rhythms before they discharge him.  In the meantime, they’re tweaking his medicine and we’re waiting on the new drug to build in his system and give him 100% efficacy.

I dont’ know exactly what a panic attack is, but I think I’ve been on the verge a few times this week.  I’ve felt physically suffocated by fear.  I’ve felt like something was choking me, gripping my chest, standing on my lungs.  And when I’ve felt that kind of fear, when I’ve been tempted to just give in to despair and let my mind dwell on all the what-ifs, I have remembered Isaiah 26:3 —

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you

And then I have gone over a mental list of what I know to be true of God.

  1. I know God is sovereign.  Nothing is happening to me right now without His full knowledge and His full permission.
  2. I know God is good.  He can’t be evil or mean-spirited.  He is good.  And if He is sovereignly allowing this to happen to us and He is good, then this will eventually be turned into good.
  3. He promises to work all things out for my good.  I love Him.  I’ve been called according to His purposes.  He will work this out for my ultimate good. (Romans 8:28)
  4. I know God is compassionate.  God came to the earth in the form of a human, Jesus.  He experienced every emotion.  He knows what it’s like to love someone and have that person be sick or die.  He knows what it is like to be exhausted and emotionally and physically spent.  He knows exactly what I’m experiencing and He is compassionate.  He cares.
  5. I know God is working this out for His glory.  (John 9)  He will reveal His glory in this situation.
  6. I know God loves me.  He loves me more than my own earthly parents love me.  He loves me more than I love my children.  He really, really loves me.

I know those things are true.  I know those things about our Father.  And when I fix my mind of those truths, I do receive peace.  It’s not a peace like I’m sitting in a hammock on a beach in the Bahamas, but it’s a peace that really is perfect for me, for now.

When I feel overwhelmed and afraid and dog-tired, I can rehearse these truths in my mind, and I’m OK.  I just have to go back to what I know.

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That Girl Jesus Loves

This year in BSF we’ve studied the Gospel of John.  I’d studied John before, but the thing that really struck me this time through was how John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

It probably would have been a lot easier to say “I” or “me,” but John chose to call himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  He must have had a reason.

Some people think this habit of John’s is a bit proud.  What? Did John think he was special? that Jesus didn’t love the other disciples?

I think it’s just the opposite.  I think this strange reference to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” shows great humility.  And I love the transformation in John’s life that it represents.

John was a young man when he walked the dusty roads of Bethsaida and Capernaum and Bethany with Jesus.  John was one of the guys arguing about who would be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom (Mark 9).  John wanted to be great.  He wanted a high position in Jesus’ kingdom.

Matthew (20) tells us that John’s momma approached Jesus to ask him if her sons, James and John, could sit at His right and at His left in His kingdom.  Mark (10) tells us that James and John came to Jesus and made the request themselves.  Most likely, James and John and their momma went together and asked Jesus for this honor.  I think this little anecdote is pretty telling about James and John and their family dynamic and their aspirations, most likely instilled in them from their mother.  Maybe she was the first stage-mother, pushing her boys to make names for themselves.  They expected Jesus would set up an earthly kingdom, and they wanted to be Vice President and Secretary of State (or something like that).

Just as he was interested in making a name for himself, John was also interested in protecting Jesus’ name and reputation.  Mark tells the story (chap. 9) of a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  Concerned that he wasn’t a part of the inner circle of disciples and may not be legit, John told him to stop.

So, as a young man, John wanted to make a name for himself in helping usher in the Messiah’s kingdom.  He wanted power and a position of authority and importance.  He wanted a good reputation and didn’t want to be associated with anybody who seemed a little looney.  John loved Jesus and was following Him and was obviously interested in what Jesus was doing; but John was also very interested in John.

I can understand this very well.  I love Jesus.  I’m involved in His work.  But I also am very interested in Jennifer.  I like feeling like I’m in a position of power in my own life.  I want to protect my own reputation and I care about others’ opinions of me.  To be honest, I spend a lot of time thinking about Jennifer.

But here’s what I love.  By the time John was an old man and wrote this book, he has gotten over his interest in making a name for himself.  He’s gotten so over it and beyond it that he doesn’t even name himself!  He calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

You see, John has stopped looking out for himself.  Now, by the time he wrote his gospel, he sees himself in relation to Jesus.  He sees himself as God the Father sees him, as a man loved by the Son.  The Father sees us through the lens of Christ’s love.  And that is how John finally saw himself, through the lens of Christ’s love — “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

This shift in John’s thinking, his change of perspective, gives me hope.  By the time I am an old woman, perhaps I will think less of myself in terms of Jennifer and, instead, see myself through the lens of Christ’s love.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop thinking of myself as Jennifer and, instead, think of myself as “that girl Jesus loves.”

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All I Need

I love this song by Sara Groves.

Sometimes I start to feel discontent.  I begin to think  All I really need is a new couch.  I hate my couch.  I want a nice couch. A prettier one.

And then sometimes I think  All I really need is a bigger kitchen.  So three of us could be in there without bumping into each other.

Then I’ll think All I need is a house.  If I had a house, I could have more space for our stuff and more room for my kids to play.  I need a house.

Every now and then, I’ll even think something like All I really need is to lose 10 pounds.  Ok, 15.  Then I’ll be happier and prettier healthier.

This All I Need thinking is a slippery slope.  Really, will there ever be a time when I won’t think of SOMETHING I need to make me happier and more satisfied?

I think Sara Groves captures my insatiable need pretty well in this song.

Newly married, new apartment

All our furniture was saved from the dump
Yes dear maybe we can afford a trashcan next month

All I need is my love for you and a seat for two

New baby new life
We will teach him to speak French
We’ve got no money so we’ll make it all ourselves
I’ll make the curtains and you make the shelves

All I need is a power saw and a new sewing machine

Honey, this house needs a little something
That bare mantle doesn’t look so good
Someone told me of a man
Who makes animals from driftwood

All I need is your monthly bonus for a wooden walrus

Honey, the Colbaughs are coming over
This house needs some renovations
Just a wall or two, just a little room
And a few new decorations

All I need is a sectional and a satellite TV
and dark-wood cabinets that were custom built for me
and a painting by that guy that paints with his feet…

That’s all I need
For now

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