Tuesday, 8 September 2015

After the Storm

Last week wild winds stormed over our home and towering trees swayed back and forth with the threat of catastrophe. A few people passed by in cars, and brave pedestrians clad with large coats and scarves trekked out into the storm with little dogs trotting out in front on leashes. Over the course of the storm, 500,000 homes were left without power.
Although I missed the hot tea and lights illuminating the evening, there is something almost magical about a power outage. The darkness is lit by a motley array of candles, with everything from scented, tall, beeswax to soy. The bright flames flicker back and forth, and the warmth of the golden light makes up for the lack of electricity. And, I'm always one to welcome a forced break from the internet. ;)  
We lived by daylight and candlelight for three days. The moment the beep of the microwave sounded and the kettle started boiling (we didn't realize the flip was switched! Haha!) we all breathed a sigh of relief. Lights were turned back on and we all plugged in our battery drained electronics. 
And today, here I am enjoying the pleasures of the internet, a charged laptop, bright lights, hot tea. The storm may have been challenging, but when we make it through to the other side? We realize just how much we had. 
In January I entered a very difficult season of life, the greatest storm that I could never have imagined. I have seen 15 doctors, pushed through more pain than I thought bearable, and spent many a night crying out in confusion and despair. I experienced a very rare and awful situation that resulted in surgery, which then led to almost a week in hospital. 
This was not in my plan. Who thinks that walking will be painful for 8 months? I have races to run! I have classes that need my full attention! My stubborn will would not give in to pain. I just kept going, and looking back, I am shocked. And you know what got me through it? Faith. Faith in God that he is my Healer and that nothing could get in the way of me fulfilling his plan for my life. 
You see, sometimes we don't know how we survive a storm until we have actually survived it. Although the bulk of this storm is over, there are still doctor's appointments, pain medication, and activities that don't have a pause button. But you know what? What the enemy meant to crush me with, God has turned around to bless me in the midst of it all. I won the Chemistry award at my university, kept my job, excelled at school, and learnt more about human anatomy, medicine, and huge tongue twister biological terms. Heck, I even started writing a book. 

Now, this is no "look at me me" kind of story. No no, it is the complete opposite. This is a testimony of God's power. Take heart, dear reader! No matter whether you are in the midst of a storm, just leaving one, or have one in the distant past, know this truth: nothing, absolutely NOTHING can stop God from carrying out His plan for your life if you will stay in faith.

Never give up. You have such a spectacular future. I know how much I needed to hear that countless times this past year. I implore you to believe in yourself. Trust your Creator to bring you through even more victorious than ever before.  

Much love, Vivi 

Friday, 31 July 2015

What I Learned from (almost) 31 Days of Photos

A Look Back... 

On July 1st I began a personal experiment. One month, 31 days, countless photos, daily thoughts, all with the goal of getting a better look into how I spend my time, and how I could be a better steward of precious moments, hours, and days. 

So, how did I spend my time?
What did I learn? 

I spent hours and hours reading. My favorite reads included Texas by James Michener, Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta, Never Give Up  by Joyce Meyer, Healing & Wellness by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, and Science magazine. The last time I did this much reading was in high school, and my brain thanked me for it. The more I read the more I am overflowing with thankfulness for the ability to see, understand, and remember information. Knowledge is powerful, and time spent building it is an amazing investment. 

This was my first summer doing full summer classes and a lot of time was spent working through Calculus questions and studying Physics. July brought one Calculus midterm, 4 quizzes, 8 homework assignments, and 3 Physics tests. You could say I spent a lot of quality time with my notebook, calculator and trusty white board! What did I learn from this? Well, apart from copious amounts of math, I learned that education is so amazing. I never want to take the blessing to sit in a classroom and learn for granted. 

In almost every photo collage there was a picture of some sort of hot (or iced!) beverage. Now, this is no surprise to me! I've always loved a good mug of soothing tea. What this has taught me is that tea actually helps me be more focused with my time. When I have a mug of tea beside me I can study for a few hours without stopping. Why? This may be because drinking tea has become ingrained as a part of my routine. Pathways in my brain have formed that say "oh! a mug of tea! okay guys, time for some serious focusing." My favorites are green tea, lemon ginger tea, and good old earl grey. 

The time I spent with friends and family uplifted and encouraged me. I was blessed with brunch out with a friend, birthday celebrations with both friends and family, genuine conversations, walks, laughter... People are blessings. And people take up time! But, what a wonderful way to spend our time. Investing time into others requires effort, sacrifice, generosity, and often, vulnerability. It comes with the risk of getting hurt, but it also comes with the potential of blossoming into a meaningful lifelong mutual blessing, which totally outweighs the risk. 

Time spent being brave is time well spent. In this post  I talk about how we constantly have the choice to choose faith or fear. I only want to spend time choosing faith. Fear has no place in my life, and I never want to give it a foothold. 

Social media can be a time sucking black hole. I would open up facebook and casually browse, and the next thing I knew 20 minutes had gone by. Similarly, I would open instagram and be lured by one photo after another, and another, and another... I am so aware that what we put on social media is simply a surface that we want others to see. We don't put up the tough, messy days or our mistakes and weaknesses. I'm still trying to find a balance with social media. As for now I want to focus on people over profiles. Call me old fashioned, but I'm not satisfied with sending texts, but face to face is where my heart is. 

And finally, God is always good. I learned that in different ways each and every day. He is the one who helps me focus in my studies, work, volunteer and stay full of hope. Right now I am believing for complete post-surgery healing, and I have full confidence that soon I will be running that 10 k race.. :) 

There it is, friends. If you followed along this journey I hope that it left you encouraged and blessed in some way. I certainly learned a lot through each post and daily "analysis" of my time. Until next time, dear friend! 

Much love, Vivi 

The Past Few Days...

J U L Y 28, 29, 30 & 31 
I'm blogging everyday for the month of July, sharing what I learn about what it means to be a steward of time. Time is so precious. This series is a personal experiment where I hope to get a better look into where I invest my time, and how I can better shape my life to serve God through my actions, words, and priorities. Look up the tag "July series" to view each post. 

Hi friends! These past few days have been particularly difficult on the post-surgery recovery side, so I decided that taking a full rest was the best way I could spend my time. I did take a few pictures, however.. :) These past few days were spent reading for hours, drinking plenty of tea, attempting to keep up with my math class, awkwardly trying to shower (surprisingly difficult) and sleeping more than I ever have. I had an emergency appointment with the surgeon after a bit of a scare, which ended up being a huge blessing to be assured that everything is going as it should. 

When I met with the surgeon this week he asked me if I was a student or working, most likely in an attempt to put me more at ease in the midst of great discomfort. I told him I'm doing pre-medicine classes. He laughed and said, "Well, this must be turning you off!" I smiled and responded honestly, "Actually, it's done the exact opposite. It's made me want to get into medicine even more." 

It's true. This whole crazy and confusing journey has done the opposite of what everyone thinks it would do. It's actually driven me towards my goal rather than away from it. To see how medical professionals have been able to help me is immensely inspiring.  I feel more driven than I ever have to help others the way all 8 doctors have helped me. 

I may be walking 1 meter per minute and sleeping 14 hours a day today, BUT! Let me tell you this, I am getting better every day. I am able to walk a little bit more every day. I laugh more every day, do more things independently every day. Every day is a testimony of God's goodness and His healing power in my life. 

I hope this encourages you, that no matter what you are going through, whether it be pain, heart break, depression, confusion, all these things that the enemy uses to try and smoosh us into the ground, God can use them to accelerate us into an abundant life full of blessings. I've already seen how God has blessed me in spite of what the enemy thought would absolutely crush me. Be encouraged friend, have faith that God will turn your situation around. If He did it for me, He WILL do it for you.

Much love, Vivi  

Monday, 27 July 2015

Run & not grow weary

J U L Y 27th 
I'm blogging everyday for the month of July, sharing what I learn about what it means to be a steward of time. Time is so precious. This series is a personal experiment where I hope to get a better look into where I invest my time, and how I can better shape my life to serve God through my actions, words, and priorities. Look up the tag "July series" to view each post. 

Today felt like Christmas. There was no carol singing, tree decorating or turkey dinner, but there was an unmistakable peace. There was peace amidst all the physical pain and discomfort. Peace in the quiet hours of resting and reading, having homemade brownies brought to me, having my brother take an updated picture of my growing dahlia from the garden. 

Let me leave you with a verse that continues to help me as this post-surgery journey continues:

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Thank you for this promise, God. I look forward to running, jumping, walking, and dancing with joy again soon! 

Much love, Vivi  

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Still Valuable

J U L Y 26th
 I'm blogging everyday for the month of July, sharing what I learn about what it means to be a steward of time. Time is so precious. This series is a personal experiment where I hope to get a better look into where I invest my time, and how I can better shape my life to serve God through my actions, words, and priorities. Look up the tag "July series" to view each post. 

Dear day two post surgery, you certainly came with your challenges. You were not easy or anywhere near enjoyable, but that does not mean that you held no value. Each day that I press on through this journey of  healing and recovery is a day worthy of celebration. Each day of healing, as slow and painful as it may feel, is still a valuable day. I choose to celebrate rest, to celebrate downing green smoothies and reading for hours. I choose to celebrate the fact that it's not sweltering hot outside, but that July has blessed us with gentle rains. I choose to celebrate the fact that my family is supporting me so graciously and giving me my every need. 

Physical pain is never fun. No one likes being stuck to the couch for days with doctors orders of no showering for four days. So how do I spend my time honoring God in the midst of great pain? Here's what I've learned:

1. I can get excited for what lies ahead in my future. This pain is only temporary. It will pass. I will run 10k races and go to medical school and take ballroom dancing classes one day. 

2. I can praise God for all the goodness still present in my life. For family, for friends, for tea, for warm blankets, for who He is as my Healer and Provider and Comforter. 

3. I can celebrate every little moment towards full recovery. Feeling a bit better? Not so sore? *High five* body, you're doing awesome.

Let's here it for two days closer to running that 10k! ;) 

Much love, Vivi 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Green Pastures

J U L Y 25th 
I'm blogging everyday for the month of July, sharing what I learn about what it means to be a steward of time. Time is so precious. This series is a personal experiment where I hope to get a better look into where I invest my time, and how I can better shape my life to serve God through my actions, words, and priorities. Look up the tag "July series" to view each post. 

Hey, friends. Today was day one post-surgery. I was loaded up with pain medication, good books, and my brother took photos of the flowers from outside on my phone for me (can you get any sweeter?!) I've lain here on the couch since 6 am this morning and don't plan on moving any time soon. Here's to rest and recovery and God's amazing healing power! In the midst of this crazy journey, psalm 23 never fails to quiet my heart and bring me peace:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Much love, Vivi 

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Road to Recovery

J U L Y 24th 

Today's post is a little different than the rest of the July series. As I am writing this it is July 22, and by the time you are reading this I will have had surgery and will be resting and starting the road to recovery. I've decided to share some beautiful pictures of the backyard's flowers that I took earlier this week so that I could rest fully the day of the surgery. Please pray that I will have a quick and amazing recovery. God is good and He is the Great Healer! 

Much love, Vivi