This week, I made plans.
Really, these plans were made back in January. They were paid for. They were scheduled. They were “cemented” in place.
God un-cemented them for me, overnight.
Have you ever had that happen? When God turns your plans around in an instant? It can be hard to accept. It is disappointing. But, it can be a huge growing time of love and trust between you and your Savior. Even if you don’t know the purpose right away. Or ever.
This weekend, as I write this, I am supposed to be traveling down for a yearly retreat with friends from different parts of the country; a retreat in Gatlinburg, TN. We look forward to it! We grow spiritually from it. We refresh in it, and in the joy of lifetime friendships and new friendships via the spouses of lifetime friends.
On Wednesday, my plans were changed. I had a severe asthma attack, one that landed me in the hospital for 3 days, and in recovery at home for the duration of what should have been my Gatlinburg trip.
I hate asthma. I hate that I am weakened by it, limited by it, controlled by it at times. I hate that it changes my plans around, and I have to submit, against my will. I fight it, and rebel as much as I can. I try to keep it at bay with medicines and strategies of treatment, but sometimes, no matter what I do, asthma wins.
I hate that I am wheezy, and go into coughing fits just over a change in temperature, or a cold drink, or eating too fast, or laughing too spontaneously. I hate that I can’t walk up a simple hill without getting strained and having to stop to catch my breath.
God knew this was Gatlinburg weekend. All year, I had prayed “don’t let me be wheezy in Gatlinburg!”
Well, God did answer my prayer! I am not wheezy in Gatlinburg; I am wheezy and weak at home.
But, I am also alive! Thank you God!
On Wednesday, I wasn’t so sure that was going to be the case.
Symptoms began earlier last weekend, with more tightness and coughing, so I made sure to be on top of my meds, and bought some helpful over the counter meds for these seasonal struggles I go through. But this time, it continued downhill, and fast. By Tuesday afternoon, I was struggling to finish my day job, and when I got home, I told my husband I was going to bed early, around 8 pm. By midnight, I couldn’t lay down anymore, so I got up and went to the living room, hoping to reset, and relax my struggling lungs.
I prayed. I literally laid hands on my lungs and prayed God’s healing over them. “God, its Gatlinburg coming up, please make me well!” By 4 or so in the morning, I knew that God was saying “no.” I was getting worse. (Still in some denial, but coming to acceptance.)
When my husband woke up to go to work, his first question to me was “Do I need to carry you to the hospital?” This is his standard question anytime he sees me coughing, cold-ing, ouch-ing, even a hangnail or stubbed toe… I guess its his way of caring! And my usual answer is a forceful NO! With rolled eyes, and meaning, stop being such a pain! He knows I have an aversion to doctors and medical treatments, etc. Its our standard fare along these lines of conversation.
This time, my answer was a weak, “I don’t know…. Maybe!”
That is when and how he knew it was serious.
He immediately called work and told them he wasn’t coming, and began to prepare for our trip to the emergency room. I tried to walk to the bathroom to get ready, and was so out of breath and panting just to do simple things like brushing my teeth. I slowly went back out to the kitchen, and said, I think we need to call 911.
Paramedics came. My first time in an ambulance. I received 2 nebulizer treatments and 1 intravenous steroid treatment before we even got to the hospital, but no change. I was on oxygen. I was struggling hard. I was monitored all day Wednesday, in the ER, with one more 30 minute nebulizer, and after no change on that one, they brought in this huge tank of Helium/Nitrogen which I was on for an hour. A trickle of improvement the Dr. said, but it should have doubled my levels. They said I was going to be admitted… to intensive care.
Anxiety swept over me, and probably increased my breathlessness. I again laid hands on my lungs and just prayed. Prayed for peace, comfort, and for God’s breath of Life to fill my lungs. I was gasping for air that wasn’t coming satisfactorily, and now they were talking about possible intubation. Oh, boy, I was scared! Overwhelmed with fear. Fear that was reflected back to me in my husbands face and wide eyes. As I kept repeating verses to myself in prayer to God, I slowly felt peace that He was calming me, readying me for what ever would come. He would be with me, as always.
The top Pulmonary doctor came in and saw the horror on our faces over the proposed intensive care admittance. He once again checked my breathing and stats and said, I don’t recommend intensive care… yet.
But I wasn’t out of the woods. I had a chest x-ray that showed no other problem, such as pneumonia, so this was purely asthma. Statistics say that more than 4000 people die of asthma attacks every year, and I was afraid I was going to be in that number. I was taken to a room on the pulmonary floor, and promptly given more oxygen and intravenous steroids. I was monitored and hooked up to beeping machines, and cared for, but my panting and gasping for basic breath was ever-present for the next couple of hours.
I couldn’t even answer simple questions without regressing back into claustrophobic and uncontrolled breathlessness.
Finally, the steroids, albuterol, oxygen, and whatever other meds they gave me started to kick in and my stats started to slowly rise. My family and visitors will tell you that they watched me slowly get my breath back little by little, over the course of a few hours, and I saw the looks of sympathetic pity and terror on their faces slowly turn to relief. It showed that I was beginning to improve, finally.
Thursday morning brought more steady improvement, and less tethering. Constant meds, and treatments, saw more and more improvement, but Gatlinburg was out of the question, I could tell by the Doctor’s scowl every time I mentioned it.
I called my friends and told them we were out.
I don’t know why God changed my plans at the last minute, but I trust Him. I may never know this side of eternity, but I trust Him. I wasn’t supposed to be there this time. My friends were sad, and still say it won’t be the same without my husband and I, but we all trust God’s Sovereignty.
We began this journey together in our first Church. We were in youth group together. We grew up together in Jesus. Now we have spouses and children, and lives that are scattered, but we still joy over each others faith journeys and Gatlinburg is where we catch up, hug up, and laugh over memories, and dreams, visions and plans.
I was going to tell them about you. My new friends in this blogging journey. My vision & dream for Shadowing Enoch. I wanted them to pray over you. I still will.
But not today in Gatlinburg.
I Love God, and I know He has a purpose in changed plans. I will let Him reveal that purpose in His time, or never. I am His willing handmaiden. I am thankful to be where I am, writing this post, and not still in the hospital. Although I was awestruck by how kind and gentle and “caringly” I was treated by all the staff on the Pulmonary floor, I am still happy to be out of there, here at home, recovering more and more. My husband still hovers over me worrying. Its good to feel & know I am loved by family that usually only shows its love in banter and teasing, picking and making fun, with Momma at the center of most jokes.
But the looks on their faces said so much. They were worried too. Maybe that is one of the purposes. For God to show my still young, adult children, not to take things for granted. They lost a grandmother this year, after a long and debilitating COPD illness, in which I was her chief care-giver. They don’t want to lose a mother too.
I’m not really sure where I am going with this, but I know that I planned my week in one way, and in the end, God changed everything. I am good with this, even if I don’t know why. I choose to trust.
I know God loves me. I felt His gentle holding even as my prayers were being denied. I even told Him -lovingly- in the midst of my acceptance of my plans going down the drain, that “God, you are weird! But ok! I’ll accept this willingly. You have a reason.” And I felt a Comforter smiling with me in the middle of my disappointment.
This is the kind of loving relationship I pursue with my Savior. His plans are better than mine, His ways are higher than mine, His thoughts are more toward me than I can imagine. Even in the disappointment of broken plans, I will trust. Because I know He loves me. He cares for me and wants things that are for my greater good.
He loves you like that too. He truly does! If you haven’t already, I pray you enter in to that kind of relationship with God. You won’t ever regret it. Not for an Eternity.
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