Four months

This time four months ago I was in surgery. I had said goodbye to my husband, sister and mum in person and my dad on the phone. I had been scrubbed clean and had my hair plaited in the hope that it wouldn’t get too knotted in the bedridden days after surgery. I had been wheeled down to the operating theatre, chatting to the anaesthetist, and trying to make light of having various IV lines placed (one of my greatest fears). I met my surgeon, Fabio, and was told off for reminding them all that if this didn’t quite go to plan then I was on the organ donor register myself. Looking back, that might not have been the most trusting remark! The drugs flowed into my veins, I breathed into the face mask I was given as deeply as my old, tired lungs could, and I drifted off to sleep.

During that 10 hour surgery, various skilful medics worked busily away. My dying lungs were removed and replaced with healthy, vibrant, wonderfully ALIVE lungs. And underneath, as always, were the everlasting arms of God keeping me safe.

After the surgery, as some of you know, there were many ups and downs. I swung from doing excellently to probable sepsis related psychosis to healthy and almost going home to very unwell and palliative

10 days post transplant

care to astonishing recovery and fast discharge. I hope to write about this in greater detail but for now suffice to say that, underneath, as always, were the everlasting arms of God keeping me safe.

Today I celebrated my new lungs by living what most might call a mundane day. I have gone for a walk, emptied and filled the dishwasher, washed and dried a rather large pile of clothes, played with our dog, prepared and eaten meals, done a craft project, read a book, and, my favourite, just sat down and breathed deeply. But, God be praised, there is no such thing as a mundane day.

I still don’t have the words to do justice to the feeling of air rushing into my lungs, the breath growing deeper and deeper until there is no more space, then out it comes in a long, faintly audible sigh. I sit quietly with a smile on my lips, trying to comprehend the blessing I am experiencing.

I don’t know what the future holds. In one sense, the future feels more uncertain than the future I thought I had with end stage CF lungs. The coming years might hold superb health and all that entails or fast organ rejection and all that entails.

These past four months have been like no others in my life and my expectations of what life is have been challenged. I have experienced my lowest lows and my highest highs. I have been the closest I have ever been to death and the most alive that I remember feeling. And I have known the most deeply I have ever known that underneath, as always, are the everlasting arms of God keeping me safe.

Thank you to my donor and family.

Thank you, God.

The War Cry interview

To mark Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Week, I chatted to The War Cry about being a Christian and living with CF.

Believing in God changes everything. Without him, cystic fibrosis is an unlucky mistake or a cruel twist of fate – it’s a death sentence… With him, I see it as part of a loving plan for my life and a reason to look forward to eternal life.

You can find the rest of the interview here.

Woman Alive interview

I’m in the April edition Woman Alive magazine talking about living life as a Christian with CF.

“My life is filled with mundane tasks and bodily brokenness, and it’s easy to think that there is nothing of value here. But, as one of my favourite quotes says, ‘God comes to us disguised as our life’ [Paula D’Arcy] and that transforms everything. God is here making himself known to me in the long hours of physiotherapy, the tears of pain and confusion, and the dark nights of the soul which can seem unending.

“The fact that God is here doesn’t take away the reality of the mundane, the brokenness or the darkness, but it means that they are places I can know God and that fact brings beauty, loveliness and hope to them.”

Read the rest here.

Forgetting my blessings

A ray of evening sunlight and lovely flowers make for a peaceful still life. Not so peaceful is the noise of the neighbours’ TV coming through the wall. They like action films. I do not. 

I’ve lost a decent proportion of my hearing due to antibiotics and I will probably continue to lose more and more. The idea that I could go deaf scares me. My days are filled with listening to things because I’m not well enough to do much else. I ask God over and over to spare my hearing. And then…. I hear the noise from next door and get annoyed about it. 

It shouldn’t surprise me that I forget my blessings so easily. But I do. Again and again. Perhaps it will be easier to remember if I say it out loud. Here goes: I am grateful for the noise coming through my walls. It tells me that I can still hear things, that I have the joy and responsibility of having neighbours, that I am blessed enough to live in a house, and that I have the luxury of so much quiet that I notice when there is noise. 

Thank you, Lord, for your good gifts, even though I am slow to recognise them as such.

The weakness of today

It’s a back-in-pyjamas-by-5pm, body yelling at me to just stop trying to do the next thing kind of day. I’m not often very good at listening to my body (though I’m excellent at telling other people to listen to theirs!). I always want to keep doing things because in my mind, doing things = being useful.

It’s one of the hardest lessons God is teaching me through CF: His view of useful and worthwhile is different to my own. He’s given me a body that needs a lot of rest and can’t do a lot of ‘normal’ things and yet all His promises count for me as well. I’m tempted to think that I can be worthwhile despite my weakness, yet He tells me I can be worthwhile even in my weakest moments. How? Because His power is made perfect in weakness. 

It’s more obvious to me than most – I can’t live life by myself. I mean, half the time I can’t even get my own jeans off at the end of the day. Being weak makes me see my need. And when I see my need, He is there to fill it. Father, Saviour, Breath-giver. Comforter. Protector. Burden-bearer. .

On being small

Today I feel small.

That’s not just a reference to my vertically challenged frame (4′ 11″, because I know you’re wondering!) but a feeling that comes from deep down within me. I know my life is a small one. I often have days where I’m on my own until David gets back in the evening. I’m not particularly active on social media. I can count on one hand the number of people who know me very well. I know all that every day, but some days the knowing and the feeling come together almost tangibly and I marvel at the magnitude of ants.

Right now I sit here curled up in my armchair with blankets around me. My rising temperature warns me that in yet another round of Ruth vs Bacteria, my body is losing. My weakness is obvious and painful. I can’t even win against an organism I can’t even see.

And yet a glance up from my armchair reassures me. God’s got his paintbrush out and the sky is a plethora of colours. Orange! Pink! Purple! Grey! Not even a pentachromat could tell you all the colours. The God who streaks the sky with colour also makes Himself known in smaller ways; a still, small voice, a dove. The God who is greater than my mind can begin to fathom cares about smaller things; the sparrows, the flowers, the hairs on our heads.

Small doesn’t equal bad.

Small doesn’t equal useless.

Small is a privileged place to be.

Small is a wonderful thing to feel.

Small sees myself in an accurate light and helps me see God as more mighty, more glorious, more loving.

Today I feel small and for that I am grateful.

On being.

 It’s been a while. I’ve been touched by how many people have noticed my blog absence and asked how I am. Thank you. 

 Truthfully, it’s been an odd year. 
 I’ve asked so many questions and received very few answers. I’ve realised yet again that even without answers, questions still need to be asked. God gave me a brain and He wants me to use it. 
 I’ve listened to so many sermons and lectures and read so many books. I’ve realised yet again that while I love book learning and facts, they aren’t the answer to everything. I don’t think that I’ve learned a lot about things over the last year. I don’t know that many more facts than I did this time last year. But I think that I’ve learned more about how to be me. 

 My calling and role over the last few years has been hard to define. It’s been a mixture of doing without things I would like and having to deal with things I would rather not have to. I suppose I would now attempt to define it like this: My calling and role is to learn how to live by being rather by doing

 There are two Ruths. There’s the real one and the pretend one in my head. The pretend Ruth is awesome. She has boundless energy and is super productive. She has a thriving career and her house is always clean and tidy. She has a brilliant memory and can discuss any subject with knowledge and ease. 
 And then there’s the real Ruth. She becomes exhausted by having someone over for coffee. She is 25 and career-less and her neat-freak tendencies are constantly frustrated by mess and dirt. She used to have a brilliant memory but she can’t remember where it went. And as for discussions filled with knowledge and conducted with ease, she’s scared of talking to more than two people at a time.
 If I could do things, if I had enough energy, I might be able to become someone more like the pretend Ruth. But my job is to be me. The real Ruth. The Ruth that God made me to be. The Ruth that I am. I’ve been learning how truly to inhabit the real Ruth. Learning to understand my motivations, my desires, my loves, myself. It’s not easy. The grass really is always greener. But I think it’s necessary. If I’m going to understand my role and my calling, I need to understand and to accept who I am. I need to learn how to be me.

Shameless plug.

My Dad is jumping out of a plane on Wednesday 17th July to raise money for the CF Trust. Cue the jokes.

‘If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.’

‘For sale: Parachute, only used once, never opened, small stain.’

‘What’s the difference between a bad golfer and a skydiver?
One goes, ‘Whack! Awwghk!’, the other goes, ‘Awwghk! Whack!”

Anyway, if you fancy shoving some dosh at the CF Trust and helping to fund research to find a cure, Dad’s giving page is here.

Thanks awfully.

The world is big. The internet is big. My life is little. My blog is little. But the vast ocean of the universe is made up of lots of little drops. So I guess that matters.

I’m Ruth. Hi.