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Posts Tagged ‘broken legs’

This morning as my wife and I finished our devotion we moved into prayer for friends and family who are going through serious challenges.  In particular we prayed for couples who are striving to reconcile their marriages after betrayal and hurt.

A picture that came to mind as we were praying is that of a deep wound that must heal from the inside out.  I spoke with a friend recently who has suffered a very serious injury losing the ends of three fingers.  The doctors are leaving one of the wounds open so that it will heal properly – from the inside out.  Coming back to the picture that came to mind as we were praying, I believe that this was a word the Lord gave of what has to happen in these couples we know although it is true of anyone who has suffered deep hurt.  The emotional wound has to have time to heal.  Words and superficial actions will not bring the healing that we truly need to be made whole.

In a marriage a demonstrated commitment is essential for this healing.  Practical steps in this are striving to know and understand our spouse better and better, seeking to understand and speak our spouse’s love language, putting our spouse and their needs before our own, and walking in the character trifecta of openness, honesty, and integrity.  These same truths apply to other relationships as well, but marriage is indeed a common relationship crucible for many of us.  Sadly, for many marriages the refining fire beneath the crucible doesn’t have to get too hot before the majority of what we have built our life upon becomes ash.  Yet through this God is able to build something truly valuable with the little that is left and adding His all-sufficiency.

You see I know this from personal experience.  My wife and I celebrated 30 years of marriage last month.  As I look back I can honestly say that over those 30 years we have had 29+ years of very good to amazingly great love and life together.  But there have been times…  A little over three years ago our relationship had become quite strained.  My job had me on the road 70% of the time.  Lisa was focusing more and more on her career and when I came home looking to be pampered a little bit (okay maybe I was looking for a lot of pampering) Lisa was about used up from all the extra she was having to do.  Our communication suffered and frankly the love was a rather dim ember at that time.  Even the close friendship that we have always shared was being severely tested.  At Christmas we had booked a condo in Orlando assuming Sammy’s soccer team would be playing soccer between Christmas and New Years as they had done for four years previously.  Surprise, they decided not to play in that tournament and yet I had the condo rented.  The short story is it was not the relaxing time to refresh and rejuvenate that I had hoped for.  In fact we now refer to it as the “vacation from hell.” That is not a direct reflection on Orlando necessarily, but more on our heart condition at the time.

Driving back from that vacation I was secretly looking forward to work and being be back out on the road.  I had scheduled to be gone for the first seven weeks of 2012.  Six days later we were racing to the emergency room with Lisa’s left leg just above the ankle sitting at a grotesque angle.  It was a compound, open fracture of both bones a little above the ankle.  A week in the hospital, three surgeries, 12 weeks with no weight on the ankle and multiple PT sessions later Lisa is able to walk and generally has regained most of her mobility.  In a previous post I have written about our walk through this time.  It’s a particularly moving read called “Broken Legs, Mended Hearts.”

I allude to this story today because one of the residuals from this is a serious scar around Lisa’s leg where the tissue was so seriously damaged.  Two things the doctor later told us that we look to as a testament of God’s grace.  First when he first saw Lisa’s leg he estimated he had a 50/50 chance of saving it.  Yet her healing progressed very well.  In fact he seemed very pleased and even a little surprised at how well she recovered.  Second at her one year check up he fully released her telling her to listen to her leg and let pain and discomfort tell her how much to do.  (Oh he did forbid her from swinging on rope swings too.)  But he also said, that a break as bad as hers 50 years earlier often proved fatal.  The bones were shattered into so many small pieces and the wound was a terrible thing.

As we finished our prayer time and I shared the picture that I had used in praying for our friends, Lisa thought of her leg and pointed to her scar.  And she said that deep wounds can leave bad scars.  She was mostly right, but I don’t see her scar as bad.  To some it may not be pretty, but to me it reminds me of Gods abundant grace.  Lisa lived.  Lisa kept her leg and she has most of her mobility.  Our marriage was healed because when Lisa broke her leg, God broke my heart.  Our oldest daughter who had been estranged from us for a time not only came rushing back to be with her mama, she gave her life to the living God.  She will live with God in His kingdom and the catalyst for her final step to this decision was Lisa’s broken leg.

One final thought.  I went for a run after we finished our devotion.  I love to run and I had stopped for a couple of months, so it was exhilarating to get back out there.  But I don’t run for the sake of running.  I run so I can talk with the Lord.  He did not disappoint.  I pick up small rocks as mementos of the places we’ve travelled.  (Lisa is wrapping up a business meetings here in Myrtle Beach as I write this post.)  You may agree with Lisa and think it’s a little weird, but I have found a few other persons who share this weirdness.  Anyway I am on the return leg of this long run and I have picked up a couple good rock candidates for my collection when I feel the Lord speak to me to stop and look for a rock.  Now I like fossil rocks or intricate design rocks or even pretty rocks – something that stands out.  So as I stand by this puddle I am thinking, “Are you going to show me a gold nugget or something Lord?”  And I started looking for something special.  But the Lord said, “Look in the muck and mire.  Look for the dirty and overlooked.  Get the rock that looks the least appealing.”  So I looked and sure enough there was a little, ugly black rock.  I picked it up and as I evaluated it I decided it is a possibly a small piece of shell encased in a little bit of asphalt.  I thought, “Wow, no gold nugget here.”  To which the Holy Spirit immediately replied, “Everything can be redeemed!”  My mind went to the description of the heavenly city described in Revelation of the streets of gold and I realized that streets of gold will have an underlayment that support them and keep them strong, flat, and beautiful.  An underlayment that can include little pieces of shell encrusted in small chunks of asphalt.

Friend, I do not believe you are reading this by accident.  I feel that the Lord has a message of hope for the world that He will get out through as many means as possible.  This message is meant for you and perhaps a loved one or friend.  God loves you, He can bring about the deep healing that is needed, scars aren’t always bad, and everything can be redeemed.  That about sums it up for this morning.

Have a blessed day.  And be a blessing to someone God puts in your path or on your heart today.

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I have a story that has been in the making for a few months that I am finally at liberty to share.  After 23 years with the same company, I have decided to make a job change.  I announced my resignation last week and I will be starting at the beginning of next month.  I wasn’t looking for a new job, but Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”  This is what I have tried to do and I will be “starting over” in just a few weeks.  Let’s look at how this works.

For the past 3 – 1/2 years I have travelled all over North America helping our paper mills put reliability in place.  I have been away from home about 70% of the time.  At the end of the year the mills slow way down through the holidays so I get to spend the last two weeks close to home.  I noticed during that time that stress and tension were more the norm than relaxation and peace.  I was really concerned because I recognized that for a marriage of over 26 years, my wonderful wife and I were not communicating very well.  We took a vacation the last week of the year to Orlando that turned into our worst vacation ever.  I can admit it now, I was looking forward to getting back on the road.  I had the first seven weeks of 2012 filled with week-long travel.

One week into the new year, Lisa had an accident where she badly breaks her leg.  The compound, open fracture resulted in a week-long hospital stay, two surgeries, and a 12-week prognosis before she can put any weight on her leg at all.  In fact the doctor was very guarded about how the recovery will go.  Lisa’s leg wasn’t the only thing that was broken at that time though.  Part of the hard shell that was developing over my heart toward my wife was broken.  I am not proud of the fact that I was becoming hardened toward Lisa, but I realize that I was.  And I thank God that He has changed my heart and is continuing to make me a better man and husband.

Obviously I saw that I had to make some changes in my schedule.  I notified the people at the mills that I would have to scale back my on-site support a bit while Lisa was in the recovery mode.  I still travelled, but people I work with were very accommodating.  Instead of 4 & 5 days at a plant I started having more 2 & 3 day weeks.  And we were able to get various family members to stay with Lisa while I was gone since she was immobile.

As I was praying about what to do, I began to wonder if I needed to consider a job change.  I recognized that my heavy travel was at the very least a major contributor to the malaise we experienced at the end of the year.  Having to call upon others to help Lisa while I travelled also brought to light the demands my schedule made upon others.  At this point I think it is important to understand what I was praying and how this worked out.  I was not seeking another job.  I was simply open to whatever God wanted me to do.  While I have often prayed, “Lord, thy will be done.” I usually am looking for a particular answer.  Or perhaps even more accurately, I am not considering certain answers that might come up.  At this time I got serious about being open to anything God wanted me to do.

God works things marvelously.  About two weeks after Lisa broke her leg a good friend asked to have lunch with me to talk about a potential career change for himself.  As we chatted he asked if I would be interested in being a site maintenance and reliability manager.  The position at his plant wasn’t open, but it was a potential.  Working with Jim would be great and because of that I entertained the idea.

A week later I went into the Linked In website which is a career based social networking site that I am on.  When I say I am on, I mean that I visited it once four years ago when it looked like my job was going to end back in 2008.  I have gone to it about a half-dozen times since then.  While I am there I see that my resume info is the same as it was in 2008 so I update it.  Again I am not specifically looking for a job.

The next business day I get an e-mail from a new tissue plant starting up in the area.  Because my conversation with Jim had gotten me thinking about some real positives of working locally, I give them a call back.  We set up an interview and over the course of the next 6 weeks I have three interviews.

Now I need to reiterate that I was not really looking for a job.  I thoroughly enjoy the work I have done.  I have very good working relationships with the people at the mills and I know we have been successful at making tangible progress at the plants.  The calculations at the end of last year indicated that the plants I have worked with on reliability improvement have seen over $30 million per year improvement in the past two years.  I enjoyed my job and we were successful.  If my only consideration was my career, I would be foolish to be looking for a job.

But, I was trying to be obedient to God’s leading.  As I prayed I felt a gentle nudge to keep investigating this opportunity.  The job I am going to is a very good fit for me.  I will be in the role of the people I have been working with at our paper mills over the past 3-1/2 years.  Instead of consulting, I will be in the doing mode.  The work will mean long hours.  Having had similar roles before, I also know it will mean different stresses to what I have experienced during my time in corporate roles.  The decision to leave was by no means an easy decision.

I have shared with you before about how I have experienced God speaking to me.  While this particular decision has many of the same characteristics, it was not exactly the same.  Having only made one job change 23 years ago, I am very out-of-touch with all the expectations and practices.  I do not like negotiating, but I understand that is part of the process.  In the end, I don’t think I did a good job with the negotiating, but it is probably a moot point.  The offer my new company gave me is very fair.  In some ways I am better off than in my old job, in some ways I am not as good.  The result is that the compensation was NOT the deciding factor.  And this is a good thing.  I only negotiated enough to get the package somewhat close to my current package.  I did not want to be chasing money and miss God.

I was looking for an overwhelming peace in the answer.  Interestingly what I had for about a week was calmness, but not the definitive peace I have experienced in the past and I was hoping for at this time.  I scheduled a quick follow-up visit to clarify a few points.  I was not able to give them an answer, but I spent about an hour and a half speaking with the gentleman who would be my counterpart at the sister plant.  It’s funny now because a lot of what we discussed reminded me of the difficult and hard aspects of the job.  He left me with a zero-pressure feeling.  If the job was not for me, then we would all be better off recognizing that now.  As I shook his hand I felt great about his candor and the decision was simply a matter of what the Lord directed me to do.

As I walked out to my car I asked the Father… “So what do you want me to do?  Do I accept the job?”  And the answer was a clear “Yes” and then the peace came.

This morning I begin the wrap up of my old job.  I have two weeks to talk with friends and co-workers at my current company.  I want to leave them with as much good as I can.  For me that first means leaving them with a clear understanding that God loves them and desires to be fully involved in their lives.  He is real.  He is love.  He is our true hope.  Next it will be to share whatever information or encouragement I can to keep the reliability train rolling.  Please join me in praying that these final days will be God-filled, God-directed, and God-blessed.

Thank you for joining me in this journey.  I pray God’s richest blessing upon you today and always.

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Lisa and I attended a Real Marriage conference the past two days.  Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace brought the message that Real Marriage is fun.  As I have shared in earlier posts, God has done a wonderful work in our marriage over the past 2+ months and the catalyst for all of this was Lisa’s broken leg.  Our marriage has gone from OK (which means it’s a relatively successful business partnership with occasional periods of zing) to amazing in this brief a time span because we have begun practicing the majority of what Grace and Mark talked about… and we had not read the book yet.  As I listened to Mark speak I realized that for many people learning about the 4 big ideas will revolutionize their marriage.  For Lisa and I it drilled home truths that we knew as head knowledge, but we had not made heart knowledge that we acted upon consistently.  Lisa’s leg break has caused us to act from the heart much more than from the head.  I think God graciously timed this conference so we could establish these principles in our marriage from henceforth.

One more point before I dive into today’s post.  During the conference there was a brief demonstration of Logos Bible Software.  It looks like a great tool for really digging into the Word of God.  They picked out this verse from John 4.  23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  Obviously the words from the original text often have other subtle shifts in meaning.  The word for truth carries with it the sense of nothing hidden or transparent.

As I awoke this morning I realized that for most of my life I have worked hard to control how I (or my family) are viewed by others.  Since becoming a Christian I have worked to be a believer who looks right, talks right, and lives right.  I believe I have missed the mark at times though because I tried to put on faith in the way of my choosing and not allow God to create that faith within me.  Ephesians makes it clear that faith is a gift from God 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Often I am more concerned with what others think that simply doing what pleases God.  The motivation was wrong.

The first “big idea” Mark and Grace introduced was that spouses must be best friends.  They gave a picture of three types of relationships.  Back-to-back which represents an unhealthy, adversarial relationship.  Shoulder-to-shoulder which represents that working together to accomplish a set of goals much like a business partnership.  And the third which is Face-to-face.  Face-to-face is the pattern God has for friendship and particularly for marriage.  We have lived in the shoulder-to-shoulder marriage for most of our almost 27 years.  It is not that I didn’t love my wife and express my commitment to her often.  But I did not look her in the eye and show her the love, respect, and admiration that she needed and I, as the husband of a wonderful woman, should provide.

The second big idea was that marriages need regular trash removal and clean up to be healthy and whole.  Marriages are unions of two sinners in need of repentance and forgiveness.  We were given examples of how to “fight” in a way that ushers in healing and growth and not ever-increasing pain and isolation.  I am sure I will speak on this more in other posts.

The third bid idea was that sex is a gift God has given within the context of marriage to be enjoyed.  This contrasts against the unholy view the world has that places sex as a god and the equally invalid view of sex as gross.  The later view unfortunately is all too common within church circles.  Again this is a topic for another time.

The last topic asked the question “Are you a selfish lover or a servant lover?”  Like so many questions of this nature, I know what the answer is supposed to be.  I mean I am in church so it has to be servant lover – right?  This is another time when the word truth and the subtle meaning of nothing hidden whacks me right between the eyes… I am still a selfish person so much of the time.  While I hate to have to admit that, it is true.  Lord help me to abandon my selfish ways, thoughts, words, and actions.

When Lisa and I first married, we immediately plunged into life at a fairly breakneck pace.  Rhiannon was just a little shy of 2 years old when we got married so we were already a family.  Lisa continued working for a brief period and then she stopped working so she could go to college full-time.  Before long the next child and then the next arrived.  Soon the Momma to do list was always longer than the what-Momma-accomplished list.

We honestly did not disagree or fight much at all.  Today I recognize that this may not have been the best thing because it allowed small issues to be stuffed away rather than dealt with and resolved.  Undercurrents of dissatisfaction began growing and this began to manifest itself in less intimacy.  I can so relate to the shoulder to shoulder kind of relationship because the relatively small amount of face-to-face we had experienced was now replaced with almost exclusively shoulder to shoulder.  Things which should have been brought out into the open and discussed were left to fester.  Sadly, but in being totally honest, the back-to-back which had never been a part of our marriage, began to show up.  Mark mentioned that a sure sign of an unhealthy friendship within the marriage was going to sleep back-to-back.  Well this had become us.

My heavy travel schedule (read busy and not at home much) and Lisa’s successful (read busy and not engaged at home much) allowed only a few opportunities to really talk about and deal with the dissatisfaction and frustration we were both feeling.

Now I have to step back just a moment in time to give you a little more background in what was going on inside of me.  I recognized that the dissatisfaction was not healthy.  I had prayed for some time for God to heal our marriage.  Now while I was open to the fact that we both probably needed to change I know my hope and intent was for God to fix Lisa.  And I thank God that He is faithful and doesn’t just leave us to our own devices.  During this period He consistently spoke to me exactly what was needed.  “Dan, love Lisa like I love the church.”  I could not get anything else… because I was not doing this.  Don’t misunderstand, I resolved every time to love Lisa better.  Reading the rest of Ephesians 5 where Paul writes about this, I knew that meant I had to die for her.  But I couldn’t.  I didn’t.

Rhiannon, our oldest daughter, recently shared how her Mom’s broken leg changed her life.  Well that is my story too.  My love for Lisa has come out of this as more real and tangible.  I recognize a difference and my beloved does as well.  A lot of selfishness has been blown away.  (I look forward to the day when ALL of it is gone, but until then I am walking by faith.)  It’s really funny, before Lisa broke her leg I would get frustrated that I had to come home from 3 or 4 days away and I had to do a “lot” of household chores.  Today I am doing at least 4 times that and not only am I not frustrated, I am happy to be a help to Lisa.  It is amazing.

On Lisa’s side a transformation is taking place as well.  Mark mentioned that husbands are unrealistic if they expect their wives to look at 50 what they looked like at 25.  After 4 children and a sweet tooth that she often satisfied, Lisa did not look like she had at 25 and I was unrealistic.  Since she broke her leg she has lost 40 pounds… and she still is not able to walk or put weight on her leg.  And she has done this in a healthy manner.  I know because I fix most of her meals at her direction.  I am excitedly looking forward to the day when Lisa’s leg has healed and we can hike together.  I want to hike in the mountains finding scenic waterfalls hidden among the rhododendron together.

It is my hope and prayer that someone out there can benefit from our story.  While I wish Lisa didn’t have to endure the pain of a broken leg, I am so thankful that God has moved through this difficult time to bring so much good.  And Lisa feels the same.  Our laughter and joy has simply exploded the past two months.  And we can only give God all the credit.  He has done marvelously, miraculously more than we could ever ask or imagine.  To Him be the glory, honor, praise and dominion forever and ever.  Amen!

PS. I strongly recommend Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book: Real Marriage – The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together.

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This morning as I lay thinking about how good God is, the thought came to me – “I wonder if many other people become overwhelmed by how good God is to them?” Sometimes it just amazes me how real, loving, and good God is, despite all my shortcomings. Even in the midst of difficulty, in fact I would say especially in the midst of difficulty, God shows up with mercy and grace in tangible ways. I have written briefly about my wonderful wife’s unfortunate accident where she broke her leg in the post Broken Legs, Mended Hearts. Well the list of positives from that painful event is long – a strengthened bond between Lisa and I, a deepening of each of our individual walks with Christ, a real and tangible change in our attitude and approach to fitness, a cleaning out of some of the “junk” that had built up in both our emotional closet and our bedroom closet, better communication with each other and within the family, flourishing relationships that had once grown cold… all of this as a direct result of God using a broken leg to shift our focus to Him.

So back to the question – is this rising up of gratitude within a commonly shared trait with others?  My best guess at this point is that it depends upon whether we are alike or related.  Let me explain.  As humans trying to make a life in this current day we share many things… the same weather, traffic, interpersonal relationships, TV commentators, restaurants, robocalls, work demands, etc.  In essence we all have a long list of things in common that alternately challenge us or make us happy.  Now overcast skies for days on end or snail pace traffic are two things that I struggle to appreciate.  And I believe in a poll these would generally fall into most people’s “DO NOT LIKE” list.  For these and many other LIKES and DISLIKES I believe that most of us share common feelings.  Because we are alike we generally respond to similar negative things with dislike or disapproval and positive things with approval and appreciation.

But what about this feeling of joy and gratitude when dealing with something that really isn’t on everyone’s “Favorite Things to Do” list like breaking a leg?  Well I believe this is more a factor of who your Father is, it is more an attribute of being in the family of God than it is anything else.  As I think back over my life I can picture those times of serious difficulty and see a distinct difference between my life BC and AC.  Before Christ I got myself into a few problems in addition to the normal issues we all face.  I can remember the stress of painful decisions, tough actions, and the lingering after effects.  One of the most troublesome aspects of all is the second-guessing of myself that invariably takes place.  Some for getting into situations that I shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place and others for making choices that negatively affected others.  But After Christ things have been much different.  For one the problems that I generate are much fewer.  By striving to obey God’s revealed Word and honoring authority, I have fallen into fewer troubles of my own making.  However, that by no means ensures a trouble-free life.  Issues still arise (we do live in a fallen world) and the consequences of others actions still impact us.  In some cases trouble finds us with no tangible cause that we can name.  Yet in my life since becoming a child of God, the attitude I once had has disappeared and a new attitude and approach has taken its place.

The AC approach is pretty simple.  The first step is to take everything to the Lord in prayer.  If the trouble is of my own doing, I repent, seek to make amends if I can, and ask for forgiveness.  The bible says God is faithful and true and He will forgive us our sins if we humbly repent.  As one who has availed himself of this on several occasions I know this to be true.  And not just true in a head knowledge way, but with tangible proof in my soul.

Once I’ve dealt with my complicity in the trouble I then move to asking God what He wants to teach me through the trial.  I have learned to never waste a good challenge or difficulty.  I am convinced I have learned much more in the hard times of life than in the seemingly good times.  God wants us to grow to be more like Him, more aware and supportive of others, more loving in all our relationships, more like Jesus.  The Word contains so much rich material for thriving in tough times.  In addition devotionals like “Jesus Calling” can be very helpful in our faith walk.  It seems like every day since Lisa broke her leg the reading from our devotion has been spot on.

Another very important step is engaging your network of family – the family of faith, to hold you up.  This can take many forms such as providing acts of service when you most need them, giving a listening ear, praying for you and with you, or even holding you accountable in your decisions.  It probably could go without saying, but that family of faith thing goes both ways – when other family members are in the midst of difficulty God will give us the opportunity to minister to them as they have done for us.

The last steps I have learned are to stay in constant conversation with the Lord and allow thankfulness to flood your soul.  Like this morning, I could not help but be grateful for all God has done and is doing in our lives.  He is truly active in bringing about good in and through us.  It is amazing… which is what I was thinking of at 3:31 am this morning when I woke up.  God is so good.  His love endures forever.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

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