Canela the Wonderdog… 4 years ago this week!

Leo’s family came to visit us for a month in 2014, our 2nd Christmas in the US… and when a Colombian family comes to visit, they ALL come!  We had 12 people in our 3-bedroom, 1 bathroom house… and it was incredible to share our lives with them, in our very own home!

When they left, however, the house felt VERY empty!  So, we decided to bring home my old beagle Taffy.  She had spent the better part of the last 8 years out at my parent’s farm with a dear bassett hound; but with the winter being SO cold, my parents thought she would enjoy the warmth and comfort of our house.  She was completely deaf, missing all her front teeth, and almost completely blind.  Her tail still wagged when she saw us, though… and she was as treat-driven as ever!

We had a wonderful 5 months with her, but during that time her health greatly deteriorated.  We took her to the vet to see why she was having so many bladder problems, and they found a massive tumor in her bladder.  We needed to set a date to put her down.

It was one of the hardest things we’d ever done to that point! We would come home to find her asleep in her bed next to our bed, just praying that she had died in her sleep… but she kept holding on.  I still remember the day we took her in.  We spent the morning at Alum Creek beach, one of her favorite places.  We let her off the leash (it’s not like she could run very far anyway…) and took some beautiful pictures during our last precious moments together.

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She is buried on the farm under her favorite tree.

2 days later, Leo and I left for Colombia to spend 2 weeks with his family and our dear friends.

Coming home to an empty house was devastating!

We had decided that maybe we could get another pet… but definitely NOT a puppy… they’re too much work!  Before going to bed on June 19th, we decided on getting chickens, believe it or not!

However, after Leo left for work the next morning, I was perusing different animal sites, and came across the most beautiful beagle pup with green eyes. I knew she HAD to be ours!  However, I didn’t know how Leo would feel about it.  So, I decided to just ask him if I could borrow the debit card so I could get some cash to buy him a surprise.  With Colombia playing against Greece in the World Cup that day, Leo thought I was getting him a big Colombian flag or something.

As he drove up to the house, he saw us playing in the front yard.  Her little white-tipped tail was bobbing around as we got to know each other.  He says that in that moment, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Thus began our adventure with Canela (the word for cinnamon in Spanish).  She has brought us so much joy, laughter, frustration and pictures!  She only speaks Spanish (because that’s mainly what we speak in our home), and my piano and voice students get the biggest kick out of learning how to say “sientate” (sit) or “quieta” (stay).

Who knew our joy would just be multiplied when we bred her just 2 years ago.  We honestly didn’t think we could ever have kids, so we thought “Canela needs a buddy”.  Well, now we have our hearts AND hands full!

Anyway…

Enjoy some pics!!! 🙂

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Where’s Canela?
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Come on mom… play!
Canela the wonderdog!
Seriously?!?! Rawhide on my computer. That’s one way to get me up!

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So stinkin' cute!
So stinkin’ cute!

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I had a moment

This past Sunday, I had a moment…
I was surrounded by middle schoolers in my living room, teaching them some Spanish worship songs for their upcoming trip to the DR. One of the songs that they chose to learn was “No me soltaras”- you never let go by Matt Redman.
I haven’t sung that song in a while, let alone in Spanish.
All of a sudden, I was transported to Casa del Niño, the hospital for kids with cancer in Bogota. I was surrounded by an amazing class of 5th graders who not only sang that song, but acted it out and then prayed for and loved on the other children so well. I could hear their voices singing, see their motions, feel their hearts of hope.
This precious class of 5th graders years ago is now graduating high-school.
The tears were falling on my guitar in my living room, and while I’m sure they noticed, the American kids didn’t say a word… it has been a tough week and they know it.
I had a moment.
The in-between, bitter-sweet feelings of being so grateful to have lived such an amazing season with those precious students; yet so grieved to have missed all of their high-school experience…
and the gratitude that I can continue to use my gifts here in the US, even though my heart so desperately longs to not still be here.
Colombia is no longer my home… the US doesn’t feel like home…
This world is not my home…
It was and will be all just a moment.

The accident

 

A good friend had been over all day helping Leo move a wall in our basement; and although our friend had to leave for the night, Leo was driven and wanted to get the ceiling torn out.

I was up in the living room trying to finish up a project for the day when I heard a loud crash, and “NENA!!!” Canela and I immediately ran downstairs, turned the corner into the room he had been working in and saw him laying on the ground, holding his right elbow.  Canela immediately jumps on him, causing him to scream out.

“I think I dislocated my elbow”.

I carefully stepped around the broken bits of drywall that he was laying on and saw a dislocated elbow for the first time in my life.

I froze.

My sister is an over-night nurse at a local ER, so as soon as I could get my thoughts together, I ran back upstairs to get my phone to call her.

She didn’t answer, but I quickly fired out a text and found out that she wasn’t on that night.

My mind was racing…

Should I move him?

Should we call an ambulance?

Can we afford an ambulance?

I asked “Do you think I can get you up?”

“Carefully, please.  I am in a lot of pain.”

I ran back upstairs to get my shoes so I wouldn’t step on any nails in the drywall rubble.

I’m grateful that I am strong and that Leo is light, as I got him on his feet ok, and then helped him get upstairs.

I quickly ran back down because we had taken out the windows of our split-level basement so the guys could easily put the new drywall in through that space instead of winding down all the stairs and tight corners to get into the basement.

We don’t live in the ghetto, but leaving a hole in our house with recording equipment and a myriad of expensive instruments didn’t sit well with me.

I tried to put the windows in myself, but I was shaking and couldn’t concentrate.

“NENA!  What are you doing? We need to go!!!”

“I need to put these windows in!”

“NO! I am in so much pain, we need to get to the ER.”

Crap.

I carefully get Leo into the car, start on our way to the ER and then call my neighbor.  No answer.  Call again. No answer.

I call my boss, who lives just 5 minutes away.

He says he can come.

The neighbor calls back to see if everything is ok.

While I’m on the phone with her, I miss the turn for the ER, and have to make a u-turn up the road a bit.  Leo is getting more and more frustrated with me.

I swear he felt every single bump on the road in the 3 miles from our house to the hospital.  I tried to drive carefully, yet quickly.  It wasn’t easy… he would wince each time there was even the slightest variance in the road.

We arrived, and immediately the staff recognized me as Leslie’s sister.  We look a lot alike, and I’d been there the year before for a few nights with a friend.

They got us into a room, and immediately gave Leo some drugs to ease his pain.  The results of the x-ray showed that it, indeed, was dislocated… and that they’d need to “reduce” it.  I guess “relocation” wasn’t the correct word.  Imagine that. Lol!

They explained that the best way to do this is to give him a drug that would knock him out for 7 minutes.  They started telling me all the risks… his heart could stop, he could stop breathing, etc.  I quickly texted my sister:  how often did people die in the process of getting their arm relocated?

“Don’t worry about that.  If anything happens, we know what to do.” her text said. “But I would recommend you not be in there when they do the procedure.  It’s not an easily-forgettable sound”.

We signed the papers, and the guys all came in to do the procedure.  I told Leo that Leslie recommended I step out of the room.

“You’re not going to be in here?!?” He asked with a panicked look in his eyes.

“Ok.  I guess I’ll be here.”  I put my hand on his left arm, and stood by his side. As they pumped the milky white liquid into his arm, he looked into my eyes.

“No importa lo que pasa.  Te amo.  Tu eres mi mejor aventura.  Te amo con todo mi corazon.”

And he slumped down. The doctors checked to make sure he was out, got into place and quickly slid his elbow back into place… without a sound.

As he started waking up, he was speaking… at first I wasn’t sure if he was speaking in tongues, as I couldn’t understand a word.

And then, he started making sense, in English.

“Our bodies are so fragile, our lives are so fragile.  We are so fragile. We have to let Jesus take the wheel.  JESUS, take the wheel!  Jesus take the wheel!”

The entire staff in the room started cracking up.  This Colombian man was quoting a Carrie Underwood song as he was coming out of anesthesia.  I wish I would’ve recorded it!

My dad showed up shortly afterwards and was with us while they put Leo back together.  The nurse recommended that we get in touch with an orthopedic surgeon a.s.a.p. They gave Leo good drugs, and we were on our way home.

The next morning, we called around and were able to get in to OrthoNeuro the very next day, 8am.  We took it easy all day, and then I had to go to work later (ie. run a rehearsal for the International Festival) that evening.  The band all took time to pray for Leo’s healing and strength; and our rehearsal was the best yet.

We arrived at the Orthopedic surgeon’s office, hopeful that he would say there were just torn ligaments/muscles, and that surgery wouldn’t be necessary.  However, that’s not what ended up happening.

Shortly after the surgeon entered and introduced himself, he said something like “Well, this is one of the worst cases I’ve seen.  You did the tri-fecta of bone breakage in your elbow.  You need surgery.  Tomorrow.”

Leo almost passed out on the table he was sitting on.  He laid down right away and the surgeon explained that his radial head was broken, amongst other things.  The surgery would try to put whatever bone pieces back together using screws, and we would see how that would work.

We expressed the importance of Leo’s elbow as a guitar player.  The surgeon confirmed that even with the surgery, it could take a year to fully recover.  We drove home in silence, praying in our hearts that it wouldn’t take that long.

 

 

 

 

Processing… and waiting

Leo and I are about to celebrate 3 years of marriage!  It’s crazy how fast these few years have gone, and how many obstacles we’ve had to overcome in such a short time!  The few months leading up to our wedding, and even a year and a half into our marriage, it felt like it was us against the world!  Or, at least, us against the US Immigration laws and other issues that had to do with Leo not being able to get to the States.  Now, things have kinda switched around a bit.  Leo even took his first trip by himself to the States in March… a kind-of expensive requirement that comes with having a resident Visa… he can’t be out of the States for longer than 6 months.

We are at a bit of a stand-still now, however.  Leo would really like for us to have a year-long furlough in the States sometime soon, and I agree that we need a break!  Back in October, we were thinking that we could do it this coming January… but things haven’t worked out how we hoped.  We were thinking I could get pregnant, have the baby here in Colombia (I don’t have insurance in the States), and then live the last year of Leo’s residency requirement, before he gets US citizenship, in the States being close to family in a kind-of utopian, rest-filled existence.  Well, obviously, I’m not pregnant yet, and from what we’ve seen and heard from doctors, even visiting the States isn’t a good option for me because of my hormone issues and how connected my body is to seasons.  The two 2-month trips we took during opposite seasons knocked my body off again, and that’s the reason I’m still having a hard time getting pregnant.  And, if we went to the States and were able to get insurance, we wouldn’t be able to get pregnant until we’ve paid into the system for 9 months.  So, everything is on hold, and it’s not very fun.

All that to say…I’m not doing well… in many ways.

I’ve read 2 books lately that have really helped put words to my emotions.  One is “God on Mute” by Peter Greig.  He skillfully writes about the many reasons why God doesn’t answer our prayers.  Ultimately, it’s because our life is meant to glorify Him, and He will do what He wants with us.  We can’t manipulate Him, have enough faith, or do enough good things to change His mind.  He knows what is best for us in the long-run, and He will have His way.

The second book I devoured this week is “A Million MIles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller.  I know it’s been out for a long time, but I finally had time to read it this week… I was sick at home for 2 days.   He writes about the importance of having a story, but yet knowing that our personal story ties in with the big Story that is weaved through generations of lives.   The greatest stories are those that have an obstacle too big for the main character to overcome without great sacrifice.

We don’t have many helpful answers to my health issues, but I can’t help think that somehow malaria has something to do with it.  My liver was pretty damaged during the whole ordeal, and your liver is what processes your hormones. Almost 7 years ago, I had to understand that if facing death was the price, it was worth knowing Jesus through the pain.  I knew the presence of the Lord through my pain… a kind of knowing that gets into your bones and holds everything together.   However, the last few years, I haven’t wanted to know Him in my pain and suffering.  I have wanted to know Him in the blessing… in the easy things… and nothing has been easy.  It’s been rather crazy actually.  But, in the area of my health, I’ve had to face another, very real thought:  if malaria is the price of not having natural children, is it still worth it? Is this my obstacle that comes with great personal sacrifice?

I don’t know why being in pain as a wife is so much harder than it was being single.  Maybe it’s because as a single person, serving Jesus, I knew that He was all I had… it was just me and Him, and as much as I was hurting, He was the only one who could hold me and bring healing… and I was willing to trust Him.  Now, as a wife, I serve my husband and Jesus, and my focus gets all off when I forget that my husband, while he can hold me, can’t bring healing or light to the dark, almost hopeless areas of my soul.  And while the tangible is seemingly more available than the eternal, I’m mad at both.   It was easier to believe in God’s sovereignty and timing when I thought it more closely lined up with mine.  More closely being “o.k. maybe not this month… but definitely this year, right?”.  2 years, and more un-answered questions later, I’m not doing well.

We have a beautiful tangerine tree in our apartment.  Our first Christmas together, we couldn’t agree on what kind of tree to have because Leo couldn’t understand the tradition of cutting down a beautiful, living thing just to decorate and watch die; and I couldn’t handle the feel of fake trees. So, we compromised and bought a small tree to decorate.  Bogota isn’t the best place for any kind of fruit trees because it’s so cold; but when we got the tree, it had 7 little tangerines growing.  The tree is supposed to bloom every 4 months, and then from those blooms, produce fruit.  I can count on one hand the amount of times it’s bloomed since it has stayed in the little corner of our living room that gets sunlight, and we’ve only had 1 tangerine grow since we plucked the first 7.

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This month, however, I saw little buds forming.  It was interesting to see them coming up from all different parts of the tree.  The buds have since turned into leaves or little white balls that will burst open into the most delicate, sweet smelling flowers.  This past week, I’ve been waiting for the first flowers to bloom, and just this morning, we had 3.  I remember thinking as I was tending to the tree this week that I don’t know how much bigger those little white buds can get before they break open.  They have such tension before they burst!

We are living an overwhelming amount of tension right now, and it’s easy to get mad at the tangible elements: our non-existent savings account, our tiny apartment that wouldn’t even fit a baby if we wanted it to, our lack of material things that would supposedly make things so much easier (… if I could just have a fancy mixer with all those fancy attachments so we could eat even healthier than we do now,  or a juicer so we could do one of those “cleanse” diets…), Leo’s citizenship process that is still so expensive (and will continue to be for another year and a half) that he needs to finish before we can adopt, etc.  It is overwhelming!

In the midst of this waiting for whatever is supposed to come next, however it’s supposed to come, I’m trying to choose to believe that this tension we are feeling is going to break forth into something beautiful and sweet-smelling soon.  It just has to.  We are desperate.

Pray for me… pray for Leo… pray for our hearts to be willing to line-up with God’s timing for many different things.  Pray for balance between being faithful with what we can control, and having faith for what we can’t.