Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Superhero Wears Scrubs And A Stethoscope

4 years ago today, I collapsed in a high school parking lot and my heart completely stopped...

But, that's not the end of my story!

Ok so I arrived at my 15 year old daughter's (now 19) high school and pulled into a parking spot with my 3 youngest kiddos ages 2, 4 and 6 at the time. I volunteered to help get the marching band ready for the football game. I was supposed to help with my daughter and the rest of the color guard's hair. It was a super stinking cute hair style too! But well, as soon as I got out of the truck, I collapsed instead! I have absolutely no memory of that day...or even that week! I got the gist though...from my daughter and 3 littlest, fellow band parents and band kids that were all there. A couple (my daughter's best friend's parents...also band parents) ran right over to me and the kids and called 911. Then I'm told another woman ran over...a parent of some sports kid maybe? Maybe even an ICU nurse or something? Anyway, she started performing CPR. I'm told she could only get my heart to flutter but she stayed with me and wouldn't give up. Eventually two police officers got to the scene and had to use a defibrillator which got things jump started...and then once the paramedics got there, they had to hit me again...Ugh! Ya, sounds not so fun...Thank God I was out and have no recollection of any of it! Anyway, long story short...This maybe nurse and her quick actions ultimately saved my life, I hear!

After recovering from all that went on with that event...Coma, Arctic Sun, waking up in complete confusion, fear, memory loss, sooo many tests, an implanted defibrillator and so much more...I really wanted to find this nurse. I asked my doctor if I could possibly get any information. There was really nothing and it seemed like maybe she either didn't work anywhere local, no one knew anything about her...or maybe she didn't even exist! My daughter kept saying that maybe she was really an angel...Haha!

I was able to meet and thank the police officers who were there that day, but I always wondered about this nurse. I prayed and thanked God for her...I was so comforted that He sovereignly placed her at the right place at the right time! She was my hero that I would never meet, but who I was so incredibly grateful for!

Fast forward almost 3 years later...August 10, 2016...

3:30 am...Ahhh...Sooo much pain...Oh crap...My water just broke!!!

Hold on...Wait...Let me give that back story...Haha!

So obviously, I was pregnant. Now, I really wasn't even supposed to be pregnant. You know with the whole heart stuff going on. This was definitely considered a high risk pregnancy because of my heart, but then also because I just recently lost a previous pregnancy. (That story is here, in case you'd like to read about him) Well, I was REALLY freaking out! I was worried about this baby's life and also really worried about my own life! Would this baby be ok? Would I be ok? Would my other kiddos lose their mom? Would my husband lose his wife? Very early into the pregnancy I started seeing a specialist high risk dr. She was awesome! I felt very safe and comfortable...I felt confident that we were in the right hands. I trusted her completely! We even waited to tell anyone about the pregnancy until we felt confident...With baby's health and also my heart health. We wanted to make sure that our loved ones felt at ease and wanted them to share in our joy instead of having fear. (You can read that announcement here) I was a bit nervous on the distance though. It took us almost an hour to get there and most of my labors were fairly quick...one was less than 35 minutes! But, we discussed that with her and planned on just making sure I paid close attention to my body (haha...or as best as I possibly could). I felt comfortable knowing she'd be with me and help me through the whole birthing process. Weeell, then at one of my appointments in my 7th month I learn that I was wrong...She would NOT be the birthing dr. like I thought. She was just the high risk dr...GASP...What?! There went my total confidence! But, she quickly made sure to tell me that the other dr's were completely wonderful and fully capable to handle this...heart problems and all. Ugh...I pretended to feel confident as I flashed a half smile. I soon after had scheduled a meeting with nursing staff, ob dr's, heart dr's, anesthesiologists, etc... for a birthing plan. Not one of them was convincing that they were able to handle my needs! My husband and I started feeling very nervous. I had nightmares almost every night...I was beyond nervous...I was terrified! I prayed so hard...God please take care of this...Please protect this baby...Please protect me! All of a sudden I felt at peace...I trusted Him.

Days later I get a call from the hospital...They are not comfortable with me giving birth in their facility with my heart conditions and all that would need to go along with that. Long Sigh...VERY long sigh...I prayed...

I got up and decide to call my electrophysiologist's office. When I am transferred to his assistant I tell her, through many tears, my situation. See, their office is located at the hospital which is less than 10 minutes away from my home. And at this very same hospital just downstairs from my heart dr is an obgyn group that I also went to for my previous pregnancies. I'm just grasping at anything and hoping I can maybe get my heart dr to say he'll help the ob dr if there's an emergency with me if the ob dr would pretty please just accept me back as a patient cause I'm totally lost and all out of options! Well there was some hoops to jump through but it totally worked and they all agreed...Praise God!!!

Ok, whew! Now that you're up to speed...Ahhh...My water just broke!!!

I spring out of bed and in a sleepy exhausted daze start barking orders to my shaken awake husband. We rush to the hospital...This is it...This is totally it! We are nervous...but excited. Maybe more nervous. I faked bravery the whole pregnancy...I had nightmares of this moment and here it finally was. I trusted God though...I knew no matter what happened, He was good to me! I knew my baby would be ok and my heart was at peace and so grateful. The nurses are checking to see how far I am dilated and putting in one of those super awesome IV's...Ugh...all fun stuff! We are then moved to our birthing room to just wait...contract, breathe and wait. Ugh...with every contraction my heart rate rises and I am getting scared. If my heart rate rises to high, things can happen not so good for me...my defibrillator may deliver a shock...Or, worse. This is awful! My other births weren't like this. I was always able to work with my body and use the contractions to move things along. I felt like I was fighting against my body each time I had a contraction because I was so terrified each time my heart rate would go up! Instead of using the pain I was fighting against it! I was miserable...not that birth is a piece of cake...Haha...but this was excruciatingly difficult! My nurses were so awesome and so encouraging! The very best I have ever ever had in my history of birthing babies...Haha! I was totally dependent on them...and then they had to do a shift change...No! I needed them!

In comes my new nurses. They both seem super wonderful too...Oh thank you God! One of them keeps looking at me weird though...Hmmm...Maybe she's nervous about all my heart history.

The nurse who keeps looking at me funny then says to me, "Hey I need to ask you something...Well, I have to tell you something." I am feeling a bit nervous now. I worry that there may be something wrong with the baby. She then says, "Do you remember in the high school parking lot when you fell?I..." and then she stopped, she couldn't even finish. Her eyes were tearing up and she covered her mouth. She didn't even have to finish her sentence...I already knew. My husband and I both gasped...and I just grabbed her and hugged her! I cried as I finally got to thank the mystery nurse who saved my life! I told her that I looked for her for almost 3 years! I guess because of privacy laws I wasn't able to get her info or she couldn't get mine, I don't know. She told me what happened that day in the parking lot. It was hard to hear, but I was so thankful to finally meet her! I asked how in the world did she end up in labor and delivery and she said that she needed a change of scenery from the ICU and had just started that week! Some may say what a coincidence...But no, I say how awesome God works! My contractions continued and got more and more intense...as they do. My heart rate would rise and eventually the staff started becoming nervous as well. They advised for an epidural and I gave in and had my first ever epidural! I was terrified as they were getting it started and then really freaked out because my husband couldn't be in there with me. My hero nurse held my hand and told me she'd talk me through it and then asked me if I trusted her. Oh my goodness...Of course I did! I never felt so safe! There was some pretty scary moments, but she was always right there by my side. It was all very intense and I will remember those moments forever! But, I will also remember my nurse...my hero...encouraging me and keeping me feeling safe and brave! There were so many times I felt like things were out of control and like I just couldn't do this! She remained steadfast and was my calm in the storm! She truly was my pillar of strength. You know, honestly, as soon as she introduced herself to us, it was like God was saying, "Christina, I got this!" All of a sudden I became very aware of God's sovereign hand over this whole thing.

After our little guy was born and we were rested up and getting ready to move into our new room, our nurse asked if she could hold the baby once more. She snuggled him closely and with teary eyes said, "You be good to your mama little John. You are a little miracle. You were never supposed to be here because neither was she, and yet here you both are! I have a feeling there are big, wonderful and great things in store for you!"

I am so incredibly thankful to have had the blessed opportunity to meet a real life superhero! Things like that just don't happen everyday! I truly believe that God postponed me meeting her...He saved that meeting for when He knew I would need it most! What a wonderful gift! I will be eternally grateful for my second chance at life and I will always hold a very special place in my heart for nurse, Amy Bennet.





Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Looking for a Cause to Get Behind?

We all want to help, don't we? There's this thing instilled in our hearts that wants to do more...To give more. And when we are serving others, it just feels good, doesn't it? Like we're a part of something much bigger than ourselves, right? Well, I've got something big for you!

There is this sweet couple (Matt & Helen) that my family pretty much adores. A few years ago they answered the call to missionary work! Although Helen was no stranger to missionary work. She had already been very involved before they met. She had a God-given desire to return to it and soon Matt started feeling the tug as well. It wasn't long after that they together as a couple jumped in! They have been to many different places in both the Middle East and Asia...faithfully serving the Lord together through teaching and humanitarian work. We love them very much and miss them often. We praise God for their brave servant hearts!

They've recently answered another call...In parenthood. God sovereignly placed a beautiful little baby girl in their path and very quickly into their hearts. We will call this sweet little one "Baby A". Her fate is desperate. See, her birth-mother feels she has no choice but to leave the country for a better and safer life. Sadly she must relinquish her rights as mother. The birth-mother has already rejected offers to buy Baby A. Selling babies in this part of the world (and into the sex trade) is rampant! She wants instead to find a good home for her. Our friends are praying for the means to be able to adopt precious Baby A. They are trusting our mighty God to move mountains!

This is where YOU come in. Are you willing to help? This is that something bigger than yourself that you can feel awesome about being a part of! Will you open your heart to this cause? I hate to sound like those crazy emotional commercials with the sappy music playing...but this is truly a desperate situation. Please join our family in praying for Matt, Helen and Baby A. Please share their story. And, please give...There is no such thing as too small of a gift!

Here's the link to their story and updates...


Precious Baby A
Just look at that big beautiful smile! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Season of Lent (for the Protestant)


I have quite the mixed up faith background...Haha! My parents, who were "practicing" Catholics (or maybe not really committed in practice, but just went with it) baptized me as a baby. Then during that same year they converted to Protestantism. They sadly eventually divorced and my brother and I stayed with my dad. My dad lived out what Christians call a "man sold out for God" life. We prayed before every meal...even in restaurants. He would read to us every night out of our Children's Bible before tucking us in, saying prayers and kissing us goodnight. We attended a Pentecostal church twice on Sundays, Wednesday evenings and also attended their Christian school. My dad even held bible studies in our home and I'd hear him and others talking well into the long night about God. We were very involved and I loved it! My dad eventually remarried and well, that didn't last so long. When I look back, I think with the now two divorces under his belt, my dad just stopped attending church. He was embarrassed over failed marriages and also frustrated with God. He still loved God very much and he'd still have those wonderful conversations with my brother and I about who God is and why he wanted us to grow in our relationships with Him. We just didn't attend church anymore...It was hard on me and hard to understand why not. That's when I started attending church with my Grandma (my mom's mom). She was a Catholic...So, I guess that's where this story begins...

Growing up observing Lent was fun...Yep, I said fun. Some people might think that's weird, but I was excited and I looked forward to it. My grandma and I used to encourage each other to stay strong and to keep going with our promises to refrain from certain treats or whatever it was that we gave up. We'd remind each other of Christ's sacrifice for us and that we should be able to sacrifice this small thing for him. Lent is a time of renewal and reflection...and time of remembrance. So yes, of course there is a very serious somberness to it...but there's also joy! The word Lent means Spring. When I think of Spring, I think of renewal and growth. I am always so excited to see the new buds on the trees and sprouts of life in the dirt! I am in awe of the changes all around me!

This is what the season of Lent is like. And, it's not just a Catholic thing either. Protestants can enjoy this time too...and should. I would actually argue that it's a Christian thing! Lent is a rich season of preparing our hearts for a huge celebration! It's a time of remembering the ultimate sacrifice of Christ for us. It's a time of reflection. It's a time of renewal. Lent is also a time of self-denial...fasting, giving something up that you enjoy or serving others, etc...

Well long story short, several years later I eventually started attending a Protestant church. Personal stuff...blah-blah-blah...Anyway, I no longer observed Lent. But, my heart just couldn't let go. It was strange to not have that reflection time...I know, I know...Just do it. Why should you need Lent to examine your heart and repent? Do it daily, right? Right...Yes...I agree. There's just something different when a group of you are all doing this together collectively and at this specific time in preparation of Easter...the celebration of our risen Lord!

And so with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I recently started observing the Lenten season again...and I am very thankful for the renewal that has taken place in my heart!

Are you interested or curious? Are you just confused? Here's a cheat sheet...so to speak...

* Lent starts on Ash Wednesday...That's 46 days before Easter. There is a special service (not just in Catholic churches, but also in Protestant denominations as well) where the congregation will receive ashes on their foreheads. The ashes are a symbol of mourning, death and repentance. There is much scripture that speaks of ashes being used as a symbol of mourning and repentance...Therefore the receiving of ashes is done in remembrance of the suffering and death of Christ. To be clear, the ashes are not given as a sign of fasting as in Matthew 6. There is no gloomy or disfigured faces here, just repentant hearts thankful for the sacrifice of their Lord!

* 40 day fast...Why 40 days? Well, the 40 days correspond to the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting and preparing himself in the wilderness before he began his ministry. And, not 46 days because you don't fast on Sundays (the Sabbath). Sundays are always a celebration of Jesus' resurrection, so even during Lent there's no fasting on the Sabbath, just feasting! Now, you don't completely fast of all food for 40 days. You are to eat small and simply...basically just enough to give you energy. Meat (though fish is ok) is given up on Fridays. Meat is also given up on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well...and you are to eat two smaller meals with only one fuller meatless meal. Now you understand why those who observe Lent also celebrate Fat Tuesday so heartily...Haha!

* Self-Denial...Along with fasting, people often give something up that they enjoy. Most common is sweets. But it can be anything that would be difficult...fast food or eating out, social media (I gave up facebook this year...Haha!), limiting your cell phone usage, coffee or tea, shutting off the tv...anything. The goal is for this to not be easy. Then when you're tempted or start getting frustrated over not being able to participate in whatever it is that you gave up, instead use that time for God...Pray, sing songs of praise, read scripture, thank Him for His own sacrifice for you! This is very personal and should be just that. Don't feel like you have to give up something just because another person did, this is between you and God. Ask Him to show you what may be taking up too much of your time. What is distracting you and distancing you from Him? He'll answer if you sincerely seek Him and ask...and when He does, let that go. Sometimes what we need to give up for these 40 days is actually something that we just need to give up period. So ask Him to help you grow during this time and to change your old habits by putting on new ones! (Ephesians 4:22-24)

*Service...You don't have to, but there's just something about simply serving others that makes me less focused on myself and more focused on God.

Spending time each year to reflect on our relationship with Christ is important. Lent is the perfect season for preparing our hearts as we reflect on His passion (sacrificial death) and resurrection.

We are not quite a week into this year's Lenten season and I already feel so full...though I'm fasting! My heart is overwhelmed by God's goodness! I am truly looking forward to the following weeks as I reflect on scripture, my Savior and his ultimate sacrifice for me! I look forward to growing in my relationship with him and I encourage you to join me!







Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hungarian Goulash

Just the veggies look yummy...and even kinda pretty too!


Alrighty, so people have been asking for my Hungarian Goulash recipe...Here it is in a nice easy spot to keep and share.

*Oh and just as an FYI goulash is NOT macaroni style noodles, ground hamburger and tomato sauce. OG goulash is all tastiness and no noodles! Just straight up paprika and yummy stuff! 

INGREDIENTS

- 4 lbs. chuck beef (cut into chunks/cubed or cheat and the buy pre-cut cubed stew meat)

- 2 med. onions (more if you love them) cut into chunks

- 4 carrots (cut into chunks or cheat and buy those tiny carrots in a bag)

- 2-3 parsnips (cut a little thinner than the carrots)

- 4-6 potatoes (we like the small red ones best...cut into chunks)

- 3 big tomatoes (cut into chunks or cheat and buy canned diced)

- 3 nice sized green bell peppers (cut into chunks)

- 3-4 tbs. paprika (this will be used during the actual cooking time) Sweet Hungarian Paprika is the yummiest...More or less depending on your own taste (Note: DO NOT FORGET THIS VERY IMPORTANT INGREDIENT if your Mother is Hungarian, or she will throw a temper tantrum and criticize your cooking efforts! Hahaha!)

- "Meat Seasoning Mixture"...flour, paprika, salt & pepper (to taste)

- 2-3 tbs. Vegetable Oil

DIRECTIONS

- Place meat in flour and seasoning mixture (salt, pepper & paprika)
*NOTE* If you put it all into a zip lock baggie it will be easier.

- Pour oil in a frying pan and sear the meat a little bit on all sides.

- Throw in the onions and gently brown...not to much...just until tender.

- Then put the meat, onions, and all other ingredients into a large crock pot.

- Season with more salt, more pepper, & yep, more paprika...Lots of it! (About 3-4 tbs. depending on your own taste)

- Cover meat & veggies with about 4 cups of water, or just enough to cover everything about an inch. Add water during cooking if needed.

- Cook until the meat is so stinkin' tender it practically melts in your mouth (about 4-5 hours).

- Eat & Enjoy! (I like to serve with some crusty bread)

I hope you love it...Let me know how it turns out! :o)