Every Season Serves a Purpose

Sometimes it feels like time just flies by, and before you know it, it’s been over two months since I last posted anything. Time goes by too fast. We’ve been busy, and we’ve had a lot going on. This will be a longer than normal blog post, I suspect.

I’m not even really sure where to begin. I’ve started this blog post over and over again, but life gets in the way, and I haven’t published anything until now.

Physical/Occupational Therapy/ Medical Updates For Me (Cindy)

I’ve continued the PT and OT exercises I learned during my time in rehab. Sometimes it’s meant going to the gym to do them, other times going for a hike or trying to do everyday activities such as gardening and laundry. We’ve had a lot of medical appointments over the past couple of months too.

I’m not even sure how much I’ve mentioned it to anyone, but during the scans completed after the accident, the doctors found white spots on my brain. After waiting to get into a neurologist, and further testing, it is believed the spots were caused by a stroke many years ago, possibly even as an infant. So I’ve had more tests to confirm this, as well as to assess my risk for another stroke. I meet with the neurologist again in July and will hopefully know more then. So far, everything is looking pretty good, and we are hoping it will stay that way. But life has a way of throwing you a curve, so at the same time, we’re bracing ourselves for that possibility too.

Physically, I’m doing better and better each week. I’m able to move more, I’m not as sore as I was, and I’m gaining strength back. I still have days when I’m pretty weak on the left side, and I’ve been having a lot of nerve pain as things reconnect but am making good progress. Being on my feet for very long is painful, walking hurts if I walk for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, and my left wrist sometimes locks which is painful. I still have to be careful with all of the internal damage and nerve damage from the trauma. I may never regain full function of my left wrist, or the feeling in my left thigh, but I’ve come a long way. Most people would never know I was in a serious auto accident.

Ben’s Health Update:

Ben’s peripheral neuropathy continues to get worse. It is spreading into his hands and fingers, making it harder for him to grip things and open jars. The nerve pain, especially in his feet and legs, gets pretty intense at times. Basically, the nerves in his limbs are dying, but are going haywire in the meantime. So he doesn’t always feel when he steps on something, or grabs something sharp, but other times he gets super sharp nerve pain when he’s not doing anything at all.

We also recently found out he has a cataract. This is unusual for someone his age, and the doctors are not sure why he’s developed one, but his vision is pretty bad right now. He will be having surgery next month to repair it. It may be yet another symptom of whatever is going on with his body. We continue to pray for answers and seek out doctors who can help. We’ve tried a lot of things over the years, including natural remedies and elimination diets, but nothing has helped so far. In fact, some of the things have made it worse. We trust in all of this though that God has a plan beyond what we can understand.

Bring on Summer!

Summer is such a busy time of year for us. With a little help, I was able to get a garden in this year using buckets for containers and a couple of patches on the ground. I can’t wait to see what comes in for harvest this year!

I’ve started driving a little more again. I was driving again last summer, but after surgery in November, wasn’t able to for a while. As the warmer weather arrived and my body had time to recover more from the November surgery and infection in February, I was able to start driving again. It’s felt really good to get out and enjoy nature! I’ve been trying to stop between appointments to lakes and nature places, and on the rare day off, we intentionally schedule time to go too.

A few photos from the outdoor places and our garden:

Our puppy Annie is getting so big! She loves the outdoors and makes us laugh every day. We also had three baby rabbits born this summer, and introduced them to her. She LOVES the rabbits just as much as our older two dogs. A few photos of her adventures with us:

Songs on Repeat:

One Year Ago-KJ52

The Blessing- Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes

Goodness of God-Bethel Music

I’m Sorry- TobyMac

Give Me Your Eyes- Brandon Heath

Scripture and Quotes

Every Season Serves a Purpose

Life is full of ups and downs. For us, the past few years especially have been full of challenges and difficult times. Yet as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is joy even in the midst of the trials. We don’t know where this road is headed next. We don’t know where we’ll be a year from now, or if we’ll have any more answers than we do now.

What we do know is that there is a God in Heaven who has been with us every step of the way, and continues to be even now. What we do know is that He’s given us each other, and even when the road seems long and difficult, there is a plan and purpose beyond what we can comprehend. Every season serves a purpose.

This season we are in may seem long and sometimes never ending, but in the end, it is only a season. It will pass, like all the others before it. To quote Psalm 27:13:

“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13, NRSV

Times may be tough, the season may be rough, but God is still good, and there is a plan and a purpose even for a season such as this.

Until next time,

Cindy

Aslan is On The Move

Physical and Occupational Therapy

It’s been over a month since I posted last. I feel like that’s kind of become routine. I’m hoping to build a better routine for blogging, but it seems like every time I start to build one, something else happens and it throws everything off.

Since I blogged last, I’ve been trying to get to the gym for physical therapy exercises and have done them at home quite a bit too. We ended up with a couple of ice storms this past month, both on days I had scheduled time open to go to the gym, so we’ve gone a little less than I would like to, but the weather should be getting warmer sooner. At home, we have a trampoline, balance board, balance ball, dumbbell weights, an exercise ball, mat, stretch bands, and a few other things so it’s better than nothing, but I prefer the gym. What we have still allows me to get in some physical therapy though. As the snow clears, I’ve been able to get out for walks more too. It’s felt so good to get out!

I still have some soreness from the November surgery, but it is slowly getting better. The infection I had in February seems to have healed up nicely, and we are watching closely in case anything tries to come back anytime soon.

As far as occupational therapy, I keep doing things around the house as much as I can to work my wrists and hands. Annie, our new puppy, helps a lot with that too. She loves to play tug of war and gets my wrist moving in a lot of different ways. We started seeing a new chiropractor as well, someone closer to where we live. She specializes in sports medicine and does physical therapy in addition to chiropractic. I’m noticing more movement in my wrist and less pain in the hip, so hopefully we will continue to see improvement.

Puppy Fun

Annie is getting so big! We are enjoying every moment with her. She LOVES being outside with me, and loves to play with Ben, myself, and our other two dogs. Her favorite toys are pull-ropes and stuffed animals. So far, she hasn’t been very destructive with toys though. She just plays with them and moves on to the next one. We are very thankful to have her in our lives! We’ve been tracking her growth week to week, and I’ve included some photos.

Songs on Repeat

KJ-52- One Year Ago

Grits-My Life Be Like

Start Over- Flame featuring NF

Scripture and Quotes:

Aslan Is On The Move

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more. When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, and when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia has been one of my favorite series since I was a child. I shared a couple of quotes above, and I think about them often, especially this time of year.

Living in the snowbelt of Northern Lower Michigan, it’s not uncommon for us to have snow until at least May, or even into June. Some of the “old timers” who have lived in the area a long time, will tell you they’ve seen snow pretty much every month of the year. So by the time we get to this part of the year, we are all ready for spring to come, yet it seems so far off.

I think often of Narnia. If you’ve never read the series, there is a witch who makes it always winter but never Christmas, and spring never comes. When the lion in the story, Aslan, begins to move, winter can no longer take its hold. It has to leave. The lion is more powerful than the witch.

For Ben and I, the last few years especially have sometimes felt like an endless winter. Sometimes it seems like difficult things keep happening. It’s like a cold, frozen, dark season that goes on forever and ever.

And yet, we know the Lion moves. In our Christian faith, the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia is often viewed as being an allegory for Jesus. As Romans 8:28 so beautifully states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Times may be tough, but it will not last forever. Spring will come. Better times will come. Even with all the difficulties we face, we know there is a reason and a purpose, and that better things lay ahead.

Today, looking out the window, we can see the sunshine. Tomorrow, it is supposed to snow. But we know it won’t last forever. Aslan is on the move! Winter cannot keep its hold on us, and eventually, we will get through the tough times of winter and move into a new season. Until then, we have each other, and our faith grows stronger in the trials. And soon, perhaps very soon, spring will finally arrive.

Happy Easter!

Until next time,

Cindy

When Life Gives You Lemons

Physical/Occupational Therapy and General Update

January has been a very off month. I was planning to start back up with physical therapy exercises, and even had an appointment scheduled to tour a gym, but then got sick. Ben was sick over Christmas and New Year’s, and then I came down with whatever he had near the beginning of January. So, the gym tour had to be postponed. I love the hospital gym I went to before surgery, after outpatient physical therapy, but scheduling with their classes and everything else we had going on was becoming difficult. Instead, Ben and I decided to do a gym membership so we could go together and have a more flexible schedule. Between a long recovery from surgery, and then getting sick, I’ve lost a fair amount of strength. I think my body is just run down.

A few days after I got sick, Ben became ill again. It’s been a long month with both of us slowly recovering. I am hoping to schedule a gym tour soon and get a membership so I can get back at independent PT and strengthening my left side. In the meantime, I’ve been doing the physical therapy exercises at home that I learned during my time in in-home and outpatient physical therapy.

Occupational therapy continues to be mostly everyday tasks. With Ben being sick, I’ve been doing more of the cooking. I’ve never been much of a cook, but I’m learning to make a few things that are pretty good. One of our dogs used to sit and whine whenever I would attempt to cook because it never turned out well, but he’s starting to accept that I can cook a little. Sometimes I think he’s even looking forward to my cooking. 🙂 A few of the things I’ve made… Taco salad, fried chicken breast, Tator tot casserole.

Our Catahoula, letting me know he’s ready to eat and is looking forward to me cooking. We make our dogs food because of his allergies.

I am noticing a big difference outside this year. The pain in my left wrist especially, which has two metal plates, gets pretty intense. The colder the weather is, the worst the pain. My hip and ankle sometimes get annoyed with the cold too, but are easier to protect than my wrist, especially if I want to do anything with my hands outside. I am hoping handwarmers will help with this some at least.

Snowbelt Living

Living in the snowbelt of northwest lower Michigan, we tend to get a fair amount of snow. This year, we’ve had less than normal but got hit pretty hard over the last few days. I’ve been trying to take short walks around our yard. Walking in the snow isn’t easy for me, but I’m sure it will get easier with time. Like I said, I lost quite a bit of strength after the last surgery and am hoping to get it back. I do have snowshoes and want to try snowshoeing again soon, but it’s been so cold, and my body just doesn’t tolerate the cold temperatures well anymore.

Both of our dogs love the snow, especially our Catahoula. It can be pretty much a blizzard and he wants to go outside at least for a little bit. I’ve shared a photo of him enjoying some of the recent snow we had.

Songs on Repeat

Love Feels Like- TobyMac, Michael Tait, Kevin Max

Hurt -Johnny Cash

Ring of Fire- Johnny Cash

Keep Your Head Up- Andy Grammer

Quotes and Scripture From This Month:

When Life Gives You Lemons

This past year hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. Between the car accident, deaths in the family, sickness, appliances breaking, and just life in general, things have been hard at times. The saying “When life gives you lemon, make lemonade” comes to mind in all of this. It’s a way of finding the positive, even in the really difficult times. A way of sweetening something that should be sour.

This isn’t always easy. But finding the sweet in the sour makes things a little more bearable at least. We’ve had a lot of lemons this past year. Yet there continue to be sweet moments too. Like the beautiful sunsets against the snow, or the chickadees coming to our birdfeeders to eat, or the extra time we’ve had to rest and recuperate because we both ended up sick.

For both Ben and I, our faith helps a lot with this. Knowing that even in the worst of times, God has a plan and a purpose for it all. Even before the accident, I would often try to find things I was grateful for. It helps put things into perspective and makes the difficult seem just a little less so. Life is full of lemons. But we don’t have to focus on that. We can choose instead to focus on the sweetness, and make lemonade.

Until next time,

Cindy

Photo by DESIGNbyJA on Pexels.com

New Years Resolutions 2022

Reflections

What a year this has been! I’ve spent pretty much this entire year recovering from the auto accident. Ben’s neuropathy continues to get worse, with no known cause. We’ve had our share of ups and downs this year, with it sometimes seeming like the downs outweigh the ups.

Sometimes finding the good with all the bad can be difficult. As we look back on 2021, we are thankful that we are both still here. We are both alive. Most of the animals are still alive. We lost our rabbit Samwise while I was in the hospital but gained some new baby bunnies over the summer. We have a house to live in, and good food to eat. We can read almost anything we want to read at the click of a button, and worship as we choose. As I write this, I’m typing it from a decent computer that runs pretty well, and I have the ability to back up things as needed. We have cold, fresh water to drink whenever we want it, indoor plumbing and electricity. It’s been a tough few years, but there is still so much to be thankful for.

We look to 2022, with hope and anticipation of what is yet to come. And with that, we plan for the year ahead, knowing any plan made isn’t likely to stick 100%, but striving to reach at least some goals.

Review of Last Year’s Goals

Every year, I (Cindy) set goals for myself. Here are my goals last year, and how I did on completing them:

1.  Regain my independence: I’ve regained much of my independence. I lost some of it after the latest surgery but am in the process of gaining it back.

2.  Regain my strength: I’ve regained much of my strength, then lost some of it after the latest surgery. I will soon be beginning the process again to get my strength back.

3.  Have any further surgeries that I need to have and come back from that: I had the latest surgery in November, and am in the process of getting stronger from it.

4.  Finish my book series, Or at least get it organized enough that I can have a deadline better for finishing it: I did not complete this goal. Looking back, it was pretty unrealistic, all things considered. I did get a fair amount of writing done, despite having two broken wrists, and I started to organize things a little more. I also started a different series, with the goal of completing the first book in that within the next year, and coming back to my longer series at another time.

5.  Start a book about my experiences: I started a book about my experiences. I’ve gotten about 11,000 words. It’s a work in progress.

6.  Write at least 10,000 more words in my series before the end of January using Voice to text.: I was not able to meet this goal. My hip re-dislocated during rehab, and I ended up having four more surgeries by the end of January.

7.  Blog more regularly: I have blogged more regularly on www.talesfromnorthcountry.com, but not as much on www.myamuseinglife.com. I hope to do more of both in the coming year. Just in case anyone is wondering, My Amuseing Life is not a spelling mistake, it is done this way on purpose, as a play on words. A-muse-ing, with muse being one of the keywords of the blog. It is my blog for creative writing, everything from fiction, poetry, writing prompts, and more.

Goals for Next Year:

Over the past few years, I’ve started using a system from Charlie Gilkey, author of Start Finishing. He also has a business, Productive Flourishing, that puts out amazing planners. I read a lot of self-help books, but his system is one of the best I’ve found. One of the things he recommends is only doing 3 to 5 projects at one time. So with that, I’m trying to limit my goals for the coming year to five.

Goals for 2022:

  1. By December 31, 2022, I will write a book, edit it, send it to beta readers, and seek out getting it published. This goal might be too much for one year with everything we’ve had going on, but I do have quite a bit written already, and I really want to start pursuing publishing more. So I am hoping to meet this goal, or at least most of it.
  2. By December 31, 2022, I will make time to enjoy a variety of my hobbies each week, including in music, reading, photography, birdwatching, arts and crafts, and writing. My hobbies are important to me, but I often don’t make time to do them. I read a book called Atomic Habits, by James Clear this year, and have been working on adding my hobbies into routines I already do.
  3. By December 31, 2022, I will gain strength and become more physically fit. This one is extremely important after the accident. I really need to complete workouts and physical therapy exercises to regain strength. I am hoping in the process, I will become more physically fit, but my main focus for this year is on regaining strength and building my endurance.
  4. By December 31, 2022, I will complete tasks around the house following weekly, monthly, and yearly checklists. I’ve actually done this one for several years now, but with limiting myself on goals and trying to do well with what I am doing, this really needs to be one of the projects I do. It takes time to complete chores and other tasks around the house, so I need to make it part of what I’m doing. Otherwise, I try for too many projects and don’t complete half of them, and then feel discouraged.
  5. By December 31, 2022, I will create and carry out goals related to work, including teaching, blogging and photography. This was a really tricky one to write. Normally, I would narrow it down more. I had hoped to return to teaching in January, but recovery from the latest surgery is taking longer than expected. I try to treat my blogging and photography like jobs, as I do sometimes get income from them, and I want to do better in both areas too. When I am able to return to teaching, I will create goals for myself based on the current needs. In the meantime, Occupational Therapy encouraged me to blog as much as I can, as it helps build my endurance for typing. I was also encouraged to do more with my photography, as using my hands more can help build endurance with my wrists as well. So it becomes like a second job and third job in a sense. It’s really hard to write goals for these areas with things up in the air, so this area will become a series of mini goals throughout the year. I may also have to change some of my other goals a little bit, or may not meet them 100%, but this is just an unusual year with everything that’s happened.

Some of my goals have a lot of pieces to them. These pieces will get broken down into smaller goals throughout the year. They may also get modified as I find what is working and what isn’t. I write about that here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/12/31/on-setting-goals-and-reaching-them/

Here’s to a New Year, hope and chasing dreams!

Happy New Year!

Cindy and Ben

Tis The Season

Physical and Occupational Therapy/ Surgery Recovery

The recovery from the surgery I had in November continues to be longer than expected. I have been slowly building my stamina back up, and am able to do a little more most days. I still have days when I’m pretty sore, but have found if I rest for a day or two, the soreness mostly goes away and then I am less sore and able to do more afterwards.

Physical therapy has pretty much been put on hold until I recover more. I have been trying to do some simple PT exercises that my therapists taught me, such as lifting my legs as high as I can and rolling my ankles, but for the most part, I am not able to do a lot yet. I am getting closer though, and hope to return to PT after the New Year. For Occupational Therapy, most of what I do involves common, everyday things around the house such as pulling out laundry from the washer to the dryer, or folding it to put the laundry away. Sometimes I will use weights or a hammer with my wrists to help stretch the muscles out when they get tight.

Writing

My writing was slowed a little bit the past week, with the power outage. I’m hoping to catch back up in the next couple of days. I am aiming to write at least 50,000 words like I did for NaNoWriMo in November. So far, I’ve managed to write about 34,000 words this month.

I am also hoping to start posting a little more on www.myamuseinglife.com. It has been hard to get back into a routine now that I am able to type more, but I would really like to get my writing blog back up more.

Books On My Shelf

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Feeding the Soul, by Tabitha Brown

Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

Please note: I recommend books I am enjoying, but may still be reading some of them. It is always possible I may miss something inappropriate or may not have read a section yet that is inappropriate. Also, things I don’t have a problem with, others may find offensive and vice versa. While I am enjoying and recommend these books, please use your own discretion when picking out books to read.

Scripture and Quotes:

Tis The Season

We are hoping to get a family photo at some point, but I thought I would share photos of our dogs for now, with their Christmas Bandanas. Christmas has been my favorite holiday pretty much my entire life. I like to go all out, with decorations both inside and outside the house as early in the season as we can get them up, and Christmas music playing, as well as special treats throughout the month of December. Last year, it was a very different celebration which I wrote about here…https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/01/01/a-christmas-to-remember/.

This year is still not going to be a “normal” Christmas for us. Between me still healing from surgery, a power outage, and Ben’s health, the entire season feels off. It’s not our normal. But it is a new normal. We’ve been having a lot of conversations about starting some new traditions and finding a new normal in all of this.

Ultimately, no matter what we end up doing, what matters most is the reason we even celebrate Christmas to begin with. Now I realize there are many different beliefs out there, and not everyone agrees on Christmas. To me, Christmas is the time of year we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know this likely isn’t His actual birthday, and I am also aware that much of Christmas as we know actually came from pagans.

But I choose to celebrate because I want to honor the One who came to save the world. I need to be reminded every year, not only of the fact that He came, but how He came. Every year, we put up a tree and I reminded that my Savior gave His life on a tree for us. We add tinsel, and I am reminded of how Jesus is the One true King. We put up the lights, and I am reminded that He is the light of the world. We add ornaments, and I am reminded of all the years He’s given me on this earth so far. So much of this season reminds me of my faith. No matter what happens, no matter what traditions we miss out on, or how difficult things are, the one thing that remains constant is the Reason for the Season.

Last Christmas was a Christmas to Remember. This Christmas is as well, in different ways. In many ways, every Christmas is special, unique. Yet some stand out more than others, and the past couple of years are an example of this. Tis the season for lights, tinsel, gifts, time with family, decorations, and so many other things. Yet it is also the season of hope. Of a belief in a better tomorrow, and a time to celebrate a Babe born so long ago who came to save the world.

I know for non-believers, it doesn’t always make sense. There is so much about the Christian faith that relies on belief, not seeing. To quote from The Santa Claus movie “Seeing isn’t believing; Believing is seeing.” Sometimes, I think more often than not, we aren’t going to see the entire path in front of us. We just have to believe that it’s there.

This season may be different for us than many others in the past, but we choose to celebrate no matter what circumstances we find ourselves because it isn’t just about tinsel, and lights, good food, time with family and all the other little things we do. It’s about so much more. It’s about hope, faith, and love. It’s about a love so great that a baby would be born, and grow up to suffer and die for us. Our circumstances cannot change that. Tis the season for joy, for reflection and peace. Because in this season, we got the greatest gift we could have possibly dreamed of, and nothing on this earth can ever change that.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

-Until next time,

Cindy and Ben

What Would Life Be Without Adventure?

With today being the one-year anniversary of our accident, this post will be a little bit different. I had hoped to post earlier last week, but we lost power due to a wind storm. I hope to do another regular post and update before Christmas.

December 19, 2020

One year ago today, our world changed forever. You can read about that day here:

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that horrific day. It’s a day we will remember for the rest of our lives. We set out on an everyday common adventure. A trip to the store, a trip for Christmas items. It was something we’d done many times before and since. But that day was different.

That day we were swept off to an adventure of epic proportions. A dangerous, life-threatening adventure that nearly took my life, but an adventure, nonetheless.

Life is full of adventure, danger and challenges we must face. Some of them are mundane, every day tasks that take us from one thing to the next. Some of them are much more exctiing and fun. Others are dangerous and even deadly. We don’t always get to choose which adventures we take. Sometimes life chooses for us.

Powerless Adventure

This past week is another example of that. Thursday night, we had a major windstorm where we live, with hurricane level 1 force winds, even though we don’t have hurricanes in northwest lower Michigan. But this storm was strong, and the strength of it took down trees and powerlines. We ended up without power and heat for several days.

The first day, we lit candles and opened up window shades the best we could so we could see. I huddled under blankets for warmth as the temperature in the house dropped into the 50’s. Ben and I spent the day reading books, enjoying good conversation and checking our phones to see when the power might come back on. We have a couple of battery packs, so we were able to charge devices, but by the end of the day, the batteries in those were pretty well drained.

By Friday morning, our cell phone batteries were draining, and the temperature in the house had dropped to 48. Originally, the power was expected to be restored Friday morning early, but it wasn’t, and the new time was for Sunday (today), early morning. We packed in a rather dark house, taking what we could find and see that we might need for a few days, then headed downstate to where my parents live for a visit.

We’ve spent the weekend at their house, on the family Homestead in Sanford. I’m sure another time I’ll do a separate post on the Homestead, but for now, I’ll just share a couple of photos. As a child, I helped to plant these white pine trees. It became kind of an annual tradition on Earth day. They have gotten so big! There are so many memories of great adventures on the Homestead, but that is another story for another day.

I am still sore, and wasn’t able to do a lot, but we could ride around to look at lights, and enjoyed time just sitting and talking. One of our nieces is also recovering from a recent foot surgery, so we got to visit with her as well and share stories of my own experiences with her.

Sanford Strong

It was very nice to visit with family, and we got to see some Christmas lights too. One of the light displays is a part of Sanford Shines. You may have heard about the dams breaking in the Sanford area in 2020. You can find ways to help the community through Sanford Strong, and footage of the flooding here:

Some of the lights we saw:

2020 was a rough year for so many people, and for my parents, their town was basically wiped out when area dams burst in May of 2020. The year would end with a bang, literally, when our accident happened.

Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

I know I’ve written several posts this year about getting through tough times and finding joy even it’s hard. I saw a post from someone on Social Media awhile back that talked about finding the extraordinary in the mundane, and I think this concept really helps getting through even the worst of circumstances.

Instead of running an errand, I’m completing a side quest. I’m not cleaning under the couch, I’m looking for buried treasure. I’m not a victim of a car accident. I was sent on a dangerous, extraordinary quest, and along the way, I met incredible people who helped me recover from the injuries I received during an encounter with the ice beast. Mindset is everything.

When the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, I think the really difficult things in life get just a little easier. We can face dangerous, even deadly situations, knowing that it’s all part of something greater than ourselves. There are no ordinary days, no regular people. Everyone has a roll to play in a story so much greater than any of us could ever imagine.

Sure, this year has been dangerous. Even scary and life-threatening at times. But it has also been an adventure. An adventure that continues to this day. But what would life be without it? If everything was always safe and warm, and cozy? We need adventure, even with all of the dangers that are faced along the way, the monsters and beasts we fight, the life-threatening situations we find ourselves in. Without adventure, life may be safe and calm but we would also miss out. We wouldn’t meet the incredible people we do on adventures, or find ourselves looking at life in another way because we can’t just turn out a light switch or turn up the heat. We would miss amazing sunrises and waves rolling in off the Great Lakes, or the silence in the woods after a fresh fallen snow. There are gifts, sometimes very special gifts for us on the most dangerous of adventures, if we will just stop and take the time to see them.

So I choose to see this as a great adventure, as part of a plan far greater than myself. I choose to find the extraordinary even in the ordinary, to find adventure in every single day. It’s not always easy, but the greatest adventures never are.

What a year this has been! I look back on this past year, and I’m amazed at how far God has brought me. I look to the next with anticipation of what adventures lay just ahead, and I watch for the ordinary to become extraordinary.

Until next time,

Cindy

It’s Enough to Keep Going

Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Surgery

About three weeks ago, I had surgery to fix some of the internal damage caused during the accident. As I mentioned before, I had two hernias that needed to be fixed, one large and one small, involving a couple of my organs. The surgery itself went pretty well, but during surgery, they discovered that what they thought was a small hernia was much larger than expected, and more of my organs than initially thought were involved. The surgery took longer than planned, and recovery is also taking longer. It ended up being a pretty major surgery, but thankfully the doctors were still able to do it robotically with just a couple of extra small cuts.

I have a weight restriction until at least the first week in December, and have to limit exercise to walking. I haven’t been able to do many chores over the past three weeks either. Most of Physical therapy has been put on hold until I recover from this surgery enough to start back up. I will begin increasing how much weight I lift in the next couple of weeks, and see how it goes. Recovery has been much slower than we expected, but each day I am able to do a little bit more.

Writing

One of the few perks of not being able to do much after surgery is having more time to write. I have a wireless keyboard and mouse, so I’m able to sit back with an ice pack on my stomach and write while I rest. I mentioned writing briefly a couple of posts ago, and again in my Thanksgiving post, but wanted to talk more about it.

I’ve been a writer since I could put pencil to paper. I’ve written articles for others blogs and newspapers, run my own blogs such as this one and www.myamuseinglife.com, and had a little something published in someone else’s book, but I have yet to publish my own books. Over the past eight years, I’ve really started taking my writing seriously and tried to write more each year. For the most part, even with getting two Master’s degree, I’ve been successful at writing more and more. Until this year at least. Not being able to write has been really tough. I found ways to keep trying to write, like speech to text, but it hasn’t been easy, and I’ve found myself feeling anxious a lot. It’s made me realize just how true the following quote is:

Writing has become as natural as breathing. November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as we call it in the writing world. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is where you write 50,000 words or more in a month. Some people are what we call “NaNoWriMo Rebels,” and they may set smaller goals as well. I did this back in July, knowing I wasn’t likely to hit the 50,000 with everything going on. My goal in July was 15,000 and I was able to meet that.

I usually do NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo (which run in April and July) every year, every chance I get. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. But I try to remind myself that every word I write is more than what I would have had otherwise. NaNoWriMo has changed my writing life, and I often write 50,000 words under normal circumstances during non-NaNoWriMo months as well. Before the accident, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have 5000-6000 word days, especially after I finished my second Master’s degree and had more time to write. Sometimes I would even have 8000-10,000 word days.

Since the accident, I’ve been able to write very little. Most of the writing in this blog after the accident was done at first using a microphone and speech to text software. As I started being able to type, I began writing more with the keyboard, but it’s been a long road back.

This month, November of 2021, I met my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words. I averaged about 2000 words a day, took a few days off for surgery recovery, and had a few 4000-5000 word days as well. I even managed to finish a few days early, and started writing more in another series I’m working on. All together, I’ve written over 60,000 words this month. This is huge. It’s still only half of what I could write on an average day, which means if I had the time and physical ability, I could probably write almost twice that in some months, but I managed to meet my goal. It was a pretty big deal, and another step on my road to recovery. It’s also helped to keep my mind busy while recovering from surgery, since it is taking much longer than expected. So this week, I celebrate not only meeting that goal but going over it.

Ben’s Health

We’ve mentioned Ben’s health a few times. Most people know that he has idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. We still don’t have any real answers on his health, and the neuropathy has started spreading to his hands. We try to just take it one day at a time. He has several medications that he takes. One of them makes him sleepy a lot, but it has helped him get more rest and improved his overall mood and pain level when he is awake. Hopefully one day we will have more answers than questions, but for now, we keep searching and asking those questions.

Songs on Repeat

Help Is On The Way- TobyMac

Lauren Daigle- Rescue

Lecrae- I’ll Find You

This one really isn’t a song, but worth the share…Jordan Peterson; A Wing and A Prayer

Scripture and Quotes

It’s Enough to Keep Going

This year really hasn’t been an easy one. If we’re honest, we’ve had a lot of really difficult years. A lot of loss, pain, death, sorrow.

Ben and I will celebrate ten years of marriage on Friday, and even in all the loss, even with all the pain and grief we’ve faced, there is still light and hope. Our relationship is strong, and good. God has given us each other to lean on even in the really tough times. And there certainly have been a lot of them, but that seems to be so much of life. Just when we think things might get easier, better, something else happens. Life is full of surprises. To quote Michonne from ‘The Walking Dead’ TV show:

“But it hasn’t gotten any easier. Sun keeps rising. Days keep passing. World keeps spinning. Time- it just keeps moving forward. Weeks, months, even years go by., while you try to make sense of it all. Try to find where you belong, try to look ahead to a better future. But the truth is, the path ahead has only grown darker. It’s harder to see. You can feel so lost, so alone, so desperate for something, anything that might show you the way.

But even now, after all this time, surrounded by darkness, there are still flashes of light, tiny beacons that shine out, calling to us. It’s not enough to light the way ahead, but it’s enough to keep going. Keep trying, keep fighting, Keep dreaming. So that’s what I do. Every second of every day. For you, for us. I haven’t given up, and I never will.”

Life is full of so many twists and turns. Sometimes it feels very dark, and yet the light is always there. Our Christian faith carries us through these dark times. Our trust that God is there, lighting the way, even if all we can see is a small flicker of the way ahead, is enough. Years fly by, and sometimes we can’t understand everything we are facing, but we don’t have to.

The little flickers of hope are always there. The love we receive from others, sometimes strangers we barely know, the messages from those who don’t even know us but want to reach out, the love from family and friend are all beacons of light. Our story becomes part of others stories too. All of it speaks of something greater than all of us, of a purpose for everything that happens.

I’ve always loved the Christmas season and enjoy watching Christmas lights blink on and off. It’s amazing how much those little tiny lights can light up a dark room. In the Christian faith, Christmas is important because it is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. Now I know that He wasn’t really born at this time, but it is when we celebrate. Every year, when I see the lights, I am reminded of the Light that came to the world.

Sometimes when life throws us so many curves, it can be really hard to see light through the dark. But light shines through the darkness, always. Sometimes only in small flickers, but it is always there.

Look to the Light. He’s enough to keep us going, even in the midst of dark times.

-Cindy

This Road We Take

Physical and Occupational Therapy/ Surgery Update

The last few weeks have been packed with appointments, preparing for surgery and trying to get our dog Wesley better from an ear infection so I haven’t had a chance to blog.

Physical and occupational therapy is at a minimal right now. I did manage to get some short walks in before surgery, and for OT, I’m trying to use my wrists as I would have before the accident as much as I can on a daily basis. I have been writing almost daily, other than the day of surgery and for a few days after. More on that later. Before surgery, I was doing most of the basic chores around the house again without much support with some accommodations for my left wrist. I was also doing physical therapy stretches throughout the day.

I had surgery this past week to fix some of the internal damage caused in the accident. Going in for another surgery was scary. It was my 7th this year, and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I’m glad it’s behind me now.

My liver and colon were both herniated when my abdominal wall was severely damaged. This all needed to be fixed. The surgery went well overall and they were able to do it laparoscopically. However, once they began the procedure, they discovered one of the hernias was much larger than expected, and my gall bladder was effected as well. The surgery took longer than planned, and I had a really hard time coming out of anesthesia once surgery was over with. I spent a night in the hospital. I came home on Wednesday.

The next few days after that were pretty rough. I have a high pain tolerance and don’t think about taking pain meds until I’m really hurting a lot. I also react poorly to a lot of meds, and they leaving me feeling worse with them than without unless my pain gets too high. Adding to that, I had really tight muscles in my back from all the trauma, and in addition to that, they filled my body with gas for the surgery and after surgery, you have to move to get that out. It’s been a balance between remembering to take pain meds regularly even if I don’t feel like I need them right then, trying to relax the muscles in my back, and trying to make sure I’m up and moving around as much as possible.

Today (Sunday) we’ve gotten the muscles to relax some with heat and muscle relaxers. As long as I keep the meds in my system for the majority of the day, I limit my walking, and frequently change how I’m sitting, the pain isn’t too bad. The pain from the surgery itself is minimal compared to the back pain. It’s uncomfortable to walk, but unbearable, and hurts when I cough, hiccup, or sneeze. I’ve been able to do a little more each day, but this surgery has definitely shown just how much I was relying on my right side to overcompensate for the left side.

I wasn’t able to get many photos during my hospital stay, but I did have a nice view and got a snapshot of the sunset the night I was there. I’ve also shared a couple of photos of our dogs. Chewbaca has been very worried about me, but Wesley doesn’t like change and has been annoyed that I’m not keeping up his regular schedule right now. If they could talk, Chewy be the one cheering me on, and Wesley would be the one telling me I needed to get up and get moving so he can get what he wants (which is usually food.) They are both sweet dogs, just different and one is way more empathetic than the other.

Snow Belt Living

Living in the snow belt, we often get snow when others don’t. In the first part of November, we got quite a bit of snow (almost a foot!). I had several appointments before surgery, and wore my winter boots due to the snow.

I had to drive through some of the worst of the storm, passed the exact spot where the accident happened. I was terrified, and yet I knew I had to do it. I quoted Philippines 4:13 a lot, as well as a C.S. Lewis quote I’ll share in the quote section.

Throughout my appointments, people would comment on my snow boots; how they were overkill and it was too early for them. Driving out of the snowbelt, I would find green/brown grass and if any snow at all, only a dusting. The snowbelt is basically it’s own microclimate and life here can be drastically different when it comes to weather than even 15 minutes away.

I was able to get some cool photos, both when we had almost a foot, and when it had melted some. We are getting more snow this weekend. Winter starts early here and leaves later than many other places. I know many people don’t like winter, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Songs On Repeat:

Help is On The Way (Maybe Midnight) TobyMac

Giants In the Land- Grover Levy

Good God All Mighty- Crowder

Scripture and Quotes:

This Road We Take:

The past (almost) eleven months have been quite a journey for both Ben and I. Along this path, I’ve heard over and over again what a miracle I am and that most people don’t survive this. I’ve had medical staff tell me that God guided the doctor’s hands as they fought to save my life, and that He must have great plans for my life. People tell me I am strong, that I am a warrior. But the truth is my own strength was gone a long time ago.

This road has not been an easy one. It isn’t over with yet, and likely won’t be for awhile. Yet Ben and I have never walked this journey alone. God has always been with us. We’ve had friends and family with us every step of the way, and strangers who became friends. Even as long and as hard of a journey this has been, we’ve seen God move and impact many along this journey.

Sometimes we’ll face fear on our journey. I know I’ve had a lot of that lately. But facing your fear head on helps move the journey forward. And what would an adventure be without a little fear and danger along the way? All good stories have elements of fear and danger. In the end, it’s how we face it that matters.

Our journey may not be finished yet, but even when this part of life’s journey is over with, our lives will never be the same.  How could it be, after so much has happened and so much has changed?  Yet our faith has grown stronger through all of this. 

I don’t know where this journey will take us next. But what I do know is I serve a God I can trust. A Good Father, a personable Savior, who looks after His children. And I know that His plan is greater than any I could ever possibly attempt. Come what may, I know I’ve never been alone on this road, and I never will be. None of us are. He waits for those who do not know Him, like a shepherd looking for his lost sheep, and walks with us, no matter how long and perilous the road may be. One day, He will call me home, but for now, we’ll keeping walking down this road called life.

Until next time,

Cindy

Crazy Busy October

Physical and Occupational Therapy

The past couple of weeks have been packed with appointments. This week is another very full week, but I wanted to try to get in at least a blog post. A word of warning, it will be a longer post.

One of those appointments was for Ben with the University of Michigan. They’ve started him on a new medication, which causes drowsiness. Ben’s primary doctor also started him on some new meds. His health has continued to change over the last few months. We’ve gotten a few answers, but those answers have led to more confusion, questions and concerns than anything. At some point he will be going to have a nerve biopsy to hopefully find more answers, but we are not sure when.

In physical therapy, I’ve continued to do the independent sessions. Occupational therapy is really about the day to day things I do, such as laundry, pouring liquids from one dish to another, and gripping things with my hand. I have weights and strengthening equipment at home I use sometimes as well to help strengthen my hands.

With surgery coming up, I’m hoping I won’t lose much strength during the time I can’t do much. I am trying to build as much strength as I can before the operation in November, but my left side is still pretty weak. I have a come a long way since the accident, but I still notice differences in what I can do, especially when it comes to swinging or lifting my left leg or trying to turn my left wrist over. I am able to compensate in many ways, such as using my hands to move my left leg when I need to swing it over a chair, or using my arm to turn my wrist when I need to pour something, or squeeze a sauce out of a bottle such as ketchup or barbecue sauce. It feels strange to turn most of my arm over just to get some ketchup for a meal, or use my hands to move my leg over a chair, but it allows me to be more independent.

With the upcoming surgery, I will be limited on what I can lift for at least 2 to 6 weeks. I am hoping this won’t be a setback for strengthening my left side. As I mentioned before, this surgery is to fix some of the internal damage caused by the accident. I am hoping it will be a fast recovery, but a lot depends on whether they can do robotic surgery or have to do more in-depth surgery.

Recharging

As an introvert, I’ve always needed alone time to recharge. It has been really hard to get that time with so many appointments, and I often find myself feeling exhausted and run down when we have so much back to back. We’ve really tried to make it a point to schedule down time. I know that may not make sense to some people, but for me, scheduling down time allows me much needed time to relax and recharge. Without it, my schedule gets so packed, I barely have a moment to breath.

The past couple of weeks, it has been really hard to get much down time in. Some days, we have had three, four or even five appointments on the same day, all back to back with very little time in between, so it’s been go-go-go. This has meant almost no hiking or walks for me, and only brief stops to parks to try to breath a little and take some time to get photos.

We are hoping this will change soon schedule-wise, but are also working on adding some down-time specifically into the schedule to help provide time to rest and recharge. Ben and I both really time to process everything that has happened this year, and you can’t really do that when it’s constant businesses. Everyone processes trauma differently, and for the two of us, we need time away from the craziness of life to try to deal with everything that this year has brought to us.

A few photos from our yard and brief stops at parks:

Photos from the only couple of hikes I’ve been able to do in the last couple of weeks: Grass River Natural Area, and Hartwick Pines

Books I’m reading or recently read

I’ve always been an avid reader, and sometimes people ask me what’s on my reading list, so I’m going to try adding in this section at least once or twice a month. I tend to read multiple books at once, reading parts of one then going to another before I’ve finished that one, and back to the first until it’s done.

  • Atomic Habits, by James Clear
  • Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
  • Mistaken Identity, by Don Van Ryn , Susie Van Ryn , Colleen Cerak , Whitney Cerak , Newell Cerak
  • Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking, by Dr. Caroline Leaf
  • Captivating, by Stasi Eldredge

Cooking

I’ve never enjoyed cooking very much. In our family, Ben does the most of the cooking, including making the dogs food. One of our dogs has a lot of allergies, so we started making their food a few months ago. Occupational therapy has encouraged me to do more cooking, in part because when you cook, you use your hands a lot and this will help strengthen and increase the mobility of my hands. I tried cooking the dogs food for the first time over the last couple of weeks, and they enjoyed it so much, one of them came to get me the next time Ben cooked it for them. In the past when I would cook, they would sit by the stove and whine and paw at me because I have a tendency to burn things and mess up recipes, so it made me feel good to know they actually liked what I made this time.

We also do canning every year. We have a few of our own grapes, but thanks to Ben’s mom, we were able to get some more and canned some grape juice. Thanks to my mom, we were also able to get some carrots canned up as well. We also found a reusable microwavable popcorn bag at one of the local Farmer’s Markets. A few pictures from our cooking and canning adventures:

Scripture and Quotes from the last couple of weeks:

Songs on Repeat:

Goodness of God- Bethel Music

My Life Be Like- Grits

Rescue, Lauren Daigle

Closing Thoughts:

The past couple of weeks have been so packed. I hope to get some time to hike in the next week or two, before I go in for surgery. Life has brought us a lot to deal with this year. But our faith has helped us greatly, and been strengthened through this process. We’ve also been on the receiving in of so much love and care from family and friends. I wanted to share a photo of this beautiful quilt a friend made for me. It is pretty amazing!

Life isn’t always easy, but as Romans 8:28 says, God is working all things together for our good, and we trust Him, even in the hard times.

Until next time,

Cindy

Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

Physical and Occupational Therapy:

This week, I was able to get up to 2 miles in about eleven minutes on the indoor bike. To my athlete friends, this may not seem like much, but it was a new record for me since the accident and something to celebrate. I haven’t added more weight since last week (I’m still at 40-75 lbs) but am trying to do more repetitions with each machine I use.

I have been trying to walk at least a mile a day. This week, I made it out to Hartwick Pines after an appointment, as well as a marina in Petoskey and Deadman’s Hill. I’ve really made it a goal to hike somewhere after every appointment I have, and most of the time, I do. This week was packed with appointments, but I managed to squeeze in a few hikes.

Surgery Update:

It looks like I will be having surgery in early November to repair some of the internal damage from the accident. My abdominal wall was nearly destroyed in the accident, and my liver and colon had to be stitched, so there is still some work to do. Hopefully the surgery will go well, and recovery should be about 2 to 3 weeks.

Adventures This Week:

A gallery of some of the photos from this week, taken at Hartwick Pines, Deadman’s Hill, a Marina near Petoskey, and a few other places in North-West Lower Michigan:

Fall is in the air!

When I took photos this past week, we weren’t in full color yet but getting close. I love this time of year! The colors are so bright and cheery! A gallery of color:

Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

I try hard to keep a positive attitude about things, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. This was a week with several days where I was late for appointments because it was just one thing after another. I overslept one day, got stuck behind a construction vehicle another day, and stepped in dog poop a couple of times on my way to places. I always leave extra time, but it just wasn’t enough some days.

I also discovered I can’t use a video-teller or drive-up ATM machine, at least not with my left wrist. It just won’t turn over enough. I have a hard time in drive-throughs too, such as at fast food places. I have moments when I get really frustrated, but I try to allow myself to feel the frustration and work through it. I’m learning to live with a new normal. Hopefully I will get more and more of my left side back , but there are no guarantees, and when you’ve lived certain ways most of your life, it takes time to adjust to something different.

We also spent part of an afternoon in the emergency room again for Ben. He has a toe with what the doctor says is a blood blister. It looks very much like it did the last time it developed an infection, so we are keeping a close eye on it. With Ben’s Peripheral Neuropathy, he checks his feet regularly anyways as he has no feeling in them.

Today (October 10) is also the birthday of my sister-in-law, Morgan who passed away several years ago. I wrote about that loss, as well as several others here:

Today is both a sad and happy day, bittersweet. Sad that we have had all of this time without her, but happy that she is living her forever in Heaven. Happy Birthday in Heaven Morgan!

If I’ve learned anything in my lifetime so far, it’s this; even in loss and in pain, there is happiness and joy. Even in the darkest of moments, there is light. My faith plays a big roll in getting me through all of the things I’ve been through. It’s knowing that I will see loved ones again, knowing that anything that happens to me here on earth is just a blink of an eye, that helps me get through even the toughest of days. Philippians 4:13 has stood out to me time and time again during this journey, and is something I keep going back to when life gets really tough.

Songs on Repeat:

I’ve always loved music. Throughout the week, I often find myself playing certain songs on repeat. This varies by week, although I have a few that I tend to play often. This week’s songs include:

Goodness of God- Bethel Music

Graves Into Gardens- Brandon Lake/ Elevation Worship

The Stand- Hillsong

Say I Won’t – MercyMe

Life has this way of throwing unexpected curves at us. Sometimes those curves take us to unexpected places. Sometimes we find ourselves in the most amazing moments, and in the next breath, in the most horrific moments. Life may not be all sunshine and rainbows. But it is still good.

Until next time,

Cindy