The Unknown

Most of today has been spent packing and sorting. This Saturday, I’ll be moving into my home for the next nine months, located in north-central Indiana. Though I am looking forward to college, I’m also a bit hesitant because there are so many unknowns that lay ahead.

In spite of my CRPS, I’m pressing on and not only continuing college, but undertaking the challenging major of nursing. Science has always been my favorite subject (well, in addition to art) and I was completely fascinated by my Biology and Human Anatomy classes last year. The personal experiences I’ve had with the medical profession began to make me seriously consider going into nursing. When I told my parents, I think they thought I was a bit crazy (at the time, I had very, very limited use of my hand). Through researching, I discovered that nurses with disabilities are more common than I thought. In fact, I’ve read about nurses who were born with one arm, nurses who are deaf, and even those in wheelchairs. It seems that not even the nursing feild is limited by disability and I am determined to make that true in my case as well.

The stress of the unknown, in spite of my determination, is starting to affect me, even though I haven’t even started classes yet. I must admit, and I’m stressing over packing and getting everything done before I leave, so my pain has been higher the past few days. Yesterday in therapy, my arm turned a lovely shade of blue, then it was nice and red last evening, redder than normal (it is usually redder than my good arm and colder).

I’m also worried about making new friends, and what people will think of me. I’m concerned about the required chapel services because my arm is still far more sensitive to bass sounds. I’m nervous about meeting professors and telling them about my CRPS.

To add to everything else, I’ve been having trouble sleeping the past couple weeks and specifically the past few days, partially because I killed my jaw. I have TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) and my jaw has popped for as long as I can remember. A few times it has been temporarily stuck, but this was the worst yet. My jaw remained locked for a week and a half, and I still can’t chew anything hard. The added pain from this has been pretty bad in addition to my arm.

My dentist tried using just a splint, but that made no headway, so he had to give me muscle relaxants and an anti-imflammatory, which worked, but made me so drowsy I’ve been pretty much useless the past two weeks. Now I’m trying to do everything I haven’t done the past two weeks in two days and it isn’t working too well. Fortunately, I’ll be done with the medication tomorrow, so I hope I’ll be a bit more alert and energetic by the time I start school.

I Wanna Be a Jalapeno!

For some bizarre reason, I planted twenty pepper plants – twenty! Last week, I decided to pickle some of my pepper crop. While happily attempting to say that silly tongue twister about Peter Piper’s pickled peppers, I carefully began to de-stem, de-seed, and slice my pretty crop of purple, white, and green peppers. Finally I was down to one last pepper – the jalapeno. I’d worked with jalapenos before, and they hadn’t burned my hands, so I was quite confident that I’d be fine.

I sliced the stem off the top of Mr. Jalapeno and the burning oils instantly burned my nostrils. Now, you’d think that would be enough to deter me and make me retrieve gloves, but I’m not that smart. I continue to slice and deseed the Jalapeno, only to feel the burn starting slowly on my hands. It didn’t take long for me to regret my decision to brave it out. My lungs were burning with each breath and my hands weren’t much better. To make things worse, at some point in time, I must have pushed the hair out of my face because my forehead and cheek were burning as well – OUCH!

No matter what I tried – water, soap, hand cleaner, nothing could help the burn that was stuck on my hands. I continued my pickling and canning in spite of the burn, which was getting worse by the minute, I couldn’t shake it! As I was trying to find something that would offer relief, I was thinking and decided that Christians should be a bit more like Jalapenos.

When we meet someone, especially non-Christians, we should leave a lasting impression on them. An impression that persistently continues to tug at their hearts, like Jalapeno oil on the skin. We have the Spirit living in us, and we shouldn’t hold Him in, but let His love shine through us in everything we do, and on to each person we come into contact with.

I pray I will be a little more like a Jalapeno each day. By the way, a product called Technu works to remove Jalapeno oils from your skin. It is marketed for poisen ivy/oak/sumac. Water just makes it worse. Just in case you decide to pick a peck of pickled peppers without gloves (I don’t recommend it).

Comfort from a Storm

One thing that I’ve been questioning recently is how God could have allowed all this pain to happen to me when so many people were praying for my surgery to go well and cure the pain.  A few days ago, God revealed a comforting analogy to me through nature that helped me understand a little bit of why.
Some days, the sun is hidden by many clouds.  Sometimes the rain pounds the earth, while thunder shakes the earth and lightning streaks across the sky.  This is not what we expected, not what we wanted, yet God remains in control.  The rain that drenches the ground also softens the seed coats to allow growth.  Without it, the seeds could not grow.  My life has seemed like a thunderstorm the past few months.   I often struggle to see how it is the answer to my prayers, but sometimes we need the stormy times for growth.  I pray that my heart would continue to be softened to hear His words and to grow closer to Him.

Absolutely Nothing

For the first time in a long time, I am doing nothing, not because I have to but because I can. Sure, I have a few things I could be doing, but they aren’t urgent and can wait. It seems bizarre that if something I want to do pops into my head, I have the energy to hop up and do it. It almost seems foolish to waste my energy on doing nothing, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

So, why don’t I have anything to do? Because my final papers are in, my final exams are over, and my year of college is complete. Well, I do have an online class to complete, but that isn’t due until mid-July, so I’m free! Free, that is, until I get home and I’m stuck in my room unpacking, but for now, I’m enjoying the freedom of doing nothing. Problem of doing nothing is that there is nothing to distract you from the pain either. In fact, all this rambling is my attempt to do something so I don’t have to think.

My dorm room is pretty empty, since I’ve packed and taken most of my stuff home last weekend and the weekend before. In fact, I have free time to do something fun, but nothing fun to do something with (except my lap top obviously). I just have some clothes and my school books left.

I must say, I’m fairly proud of myself for finishing this semester. It may be the longest, hardest, and most painful school term in my life. Since January, I have had two surgeries, two nerve blocks, and a three-week continuous epidural in addition to numerous drugs but still have managed to complete 22 credit hours of school work. Not only that, but I have managed to pull off good grades as well (I think I have all A’s except one or two B’s).

Who said that CRPS ruins your life? I have overcame the pain and pressed on, even when others told me repeatedly to quit, to give up, to go home. I refused, pressed on, and emerged triumphant and I hope that this is an example to others. All of the long, sleepless nights (because of the pain or homework), the slow, painful typing, the excessive studying while in pain, all will have paid off if I learned something (I did) and if I grew closer to God (I did), and if I was able to make a change in others lives. I’d say it was a pretty successful semester, but I am glad it is complete, though I hate saying good bye to all my new friends.

College Art Class

I thought I would share some of the art I’ve done over the past few months during my art class in college.  Some have been very personal, others have been fun.

Rising from Pain

Rising from Pain
Mixed Media, 18 x 14 inches

Blue Grasshopper

Blue Grasshopper
Oil Pastels, 11 x 11 inches

Continous Line Shelf
This piece was done with a single continuous line.

Continous Line Shelf
Marker, 11 x 16 inches

Calvin H. English Library

Calvin H. English Library
Graphite, 8.5 x 11 inches

Realistic Pencil

Realistic Pencil
Graphite, 11 x 16 inches

Servant – For Life!

A serious commitment is something that should not be taken lightly, but this past year, I have grown closer and closer to my Savior and I wanted to demonstrate the new commitment I have to Him in a visible way.

“But if your servant says to you ‘I do not want to leave you,’ because he loves you…then take an awe and push it through his earlobe, into the door , and he will become your servant for life.” Deuteronomy 15:16

2,000 years ago, the Son of God endured terrible pain to pay the price to free me. Though I am released and free to do as I wish during my time on earth, I have chosen to return to Him, because He loves me. I don’t want to leave the God I love, who loves me more than I could ever imagine. I choose to serve Him for my life.

As a visible sign of the fact that I am a bond-servant, a servant who was set free, but chose to stay and serve my master out of love, I had my ear pierced a second time. I now have a permanent reminder that I am a servant, just as the bond-servants in the Bible times.