Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Archive for the category “Christianity”

So Thankful Tonight

Video Sharing on Facebook Right After Surgery February 2010

As this day draws to a close, I am so thankful for life and that I am here to enjoy it! You may think that strange…what did I do? Almost get hit by a truck today? Nothing of the sort.

This morning I went to the hospital for an ultrasound on the arterial bypass I have in my stomach. What?! Your stomach? Right, who has ever heard of such a thing? Let me take you back.

Five years ago, I was living with unbearable stomach pain. It was most severe after eating anything. Since I had trouble starving, it was hurting me lots of the time! I was finally diagnosed with celiac artery disease…something no one has every heard of. I certainly never had. Ligaments from my diaphragm had wrapped around the celiac artery  which feeds the digestive system choking the blood supply. In fact, it is the main artery bringing blood to the stomach, digestive system, liver and spleen and it ligaments were strangling it 98% closed. This was working the other two minor arteries that much harder and putting a terrific strain on my system. The result was giving me horrific stomach pain after eating and finally all the time.

It took the doctors a year to diagnose it, a year for me to put it off, because the risks were high and the outcome very far from guaranteed. I was finally operated on January 28th of 2010 by 4 vascular surgeons. The team was led by Dr. Mark Meline of Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park, Minnesota at Methodist Hospital.

It was a complex surgery and I came through it well. Afterwards, for some inexplicable reason my brain started to swell. I had to be trached and put on a ventilator. I almost died. Another brilliant doctor and the power of God pulled me through. I am here to tell the story. I am very grateful I came through it.

The next fright I was the anesthesia from the surgery had made me delusional. This is a more common occurrence. But that was little comfort. I went through a terrifying two week hospital recovery before finally coming home.

It was a long way back from the surgery. I was walking in the apartment halls to get my strength back. Three surgeries followed, all minor by comparison and only one on my stomach: a double incisional hernia surgery to repair hernias which developed around incisions from the stomach surgery.

I know, you’re beginning to wonder why I am so thankful. Well, because I shouldn’t be here. It was a miracle I was even diagnosed ~ it was such a rare condition. It was a miracle the surgery worked. My team presented it as a paper to the enter GI department afterwards. The patient was famous, but anonymous! Only a handful of surgeries of this kind had ever been performed and certainly not all successfully.

It was a miracle my husband and I had the courage to go ahead with it, guided by faith in God, my loss of ability to deal with  much more pain, and our confidence in the surgeon.

It is an even bigger miracle that three years post surgery ~ I am healthy. I am 30 pounds thinner. I take less medication for ailments because everything is absorbed better by my body. I am off all cholesterol medication.  And the bypass has held beautifully. That brings me to today. The state of the art bypass in my stomach has healed and holds beautifully allowing me not only to live, but to thrive.

So every April I will have an ultrasound to check on and report on this living miracle in my body. And I will give the glory to God. My surgeon does. So will I!

Forgive Quickly!

momvideo20“Life is short, Break the Rules.
Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY.
Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably
And never regret ANYTHING
That makes you smile.”
― 
Mark Twain

I love this quote by Mark Twain! I love all of it, but something has really hit me recently about it. Forgive quickly! That is so profound! This was a policy in my family of origin, with my brothers and sister above, that my mother strictly enforced. My parents had parted ways and it was too exhausting for my mom to be settling a lot of squabbling, and certainly grudge holding among us would be way too much. My dad, who saw us faithfully every weekend and lots in the summer and holidays, felt the same way. Bickering was to be expected at times with four kids and when my sister Sara came along five ~ but grudge holding and bitterness was not to be tolerated. The Bible’s directive “not to let the sun go down on your anger” was strictly encouraged!

What are the consequences of not forgiving quickly? I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have come to this daring conclusion: the stress of holding onto bad feelings defies any justification for having them!

I know this is logic and common sense talking. But what about at the time of the impact of anger and bad feeling? Well you are right…at the time you are not forgiving someone your emotions are in gear, not your brain. Or you might say the brain is slightly engaged, just enough to give you the pseudo-logic you need to justify your actions. Something is running through your head like this: “Well I am not really angry at so and so, and even if I were — they got me into a terrible mess — therefore, I am right to (ignore them), (withdraw my attention, or friendship), or whatever else you have done. You supply the wording in parentheses!

All this mental and emotional maneuvering is taxing to your system. It wears you out. We were designed to be true and genuine. We were meant by our Creator to be honest with ourselves and direct and honest with others. Anything else, any other way of behaving doesn’t do us justice, hurts our fellow human beings, and what we seem to forget damages our psyche, our bodies, our minds and crushes our spirit.

God knows this. This is why He tells us to forgive. It isn’t a suggestion, it’s a commandment and part of the Lord’s Prayer. “Dear Father who art in Heaven, forgive us our sins, and forgive those who sin against us.” Who is suppose to? Well yes God is supposed to forgive us, but we are clearly to forgive others, Jesus answers the disciple who asked him how many times to forgive ~ 70 x’s 7 or unlimited times. Just keep forgiving!

I don’t think God asks this of us because it’s difficult, just to make our lives hard, but rather because forgiveness sets us free! It sets us free from the smallness of our natures, the crippling effects of bitterness and the painful torment of a conscience that knows it has been forgiven many, many times, yet is sitting in judgment of a beloved sister, brother, friend.

So as for me I have made  a commitment and decision to love more and forgive more quickly in 2013 and for the rest of my life! How about you?

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve Lunch

New Years Eve Lunch

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I’ve played the friend, Have lived and loved and labored here, And made of it a happy year. ~ Edgar Guest

I have been busy online being a friend, wishing my online friends a Happy New Year and offline reflecting on the past year and planning for the year ahead.

I have not made any New Year’s resolutions, because this year they rather made themselves. I am turning  60 in 2013, and I had a bit of a crisis of the body and mind about my weight when I saw my blood pressure rising and the doctors having trouble keeping it under control. My internal medicine doctor suggested I join Weight Watchers for that reason as well as rising cholesterol readings, and aggravated arthritis.

I finally did, the week before Thanksgiving. I do not own a scale, not being fond of dealing with that particular reality. But I had been to the doctor’s office enough to know the general neighborhood I was creeping into! Let us just say that when I finally joined I was entering a neighborhood I would rather not live in at all!

I was glad I had made the decision at last. I am mentioning this in my New Year’s post because today was also the day of my Weight Watcher’s meeting and at noon today, I discovered that even though it was the holidays, I had lost a few ounces shy of 18 pounds!

Today is cause for celebration for me. Not just that I have lost weight, but that I know I can make changes in my life and habits that are significant and that I can be happy doing so. That alone, makes me positive and happy about greeting the New Year with anticipation and assurance that this year will be a better year. Filled with more accountability, discipline, good health and possibility than the last.

As for all the wonderful friends on and offline I Christmas’d with, sent and received cards from and greetings on Facebook and Twitter, exchanged many heartfelt love you’s and Happy New Year Eve and New Years over the past two days…I can only say I am thankful to a very loving God for bringing them all into my life.

Best of all, my wonderful Lord…who has given me the fabulous gift of a loving family, I thank Him for my dear husband Mike who is my very best friend and lifelong love, and my fun and giving daughter Abby who is a delight and bringer of joy into our lives and always has been!

I wish you all the happiest and brightest of all years in 2013. I pray they are filled with all the love and promise your heart and mind can hold and that this year brings you closer to God, friends, family and your dreams!

Love you all! Libby

Striking A Chord — Do You Resonate?

Do your heartfelt thoughts when expressed reach others? Do you strike a chord? Resonate life and laughter in the hearts of others? I want to. I want to be so filled with life and love that the words that I write and speak bring people more meaning, joy and life.

God can do this. He can speak things into being. Of course, I am not God.  Not even close!  But, I want to emulate the way He loves and cares for others. Gives them joy and life and helps them. That, I would like to do.

How does one strike a chord in others with their words? How do you convey and connect to the real tune in your soul? I have thought about this a lot. My grandfather did this. He had a light in his eyes, a sparkle. A smile that showed he cared more about you than he did himself. Thomps for Thompson —  that is what we call him now that he is gone — out of respect for the name he bore, the daughters he raised and the grandchildren whose lives he forever changed.

I think the way to do it is to let the love in your heart shine through you, even when you’re writing. I hope readers can sense the light in your eye and your smile as you think of them. Especially the joy you feel at the privilege of sharing with them.

I smile when I write, a LOT. The 1981 Oscar-winning movie and true account “Chariots of Fire” takes me back to this idea. When Scottish Missionary Eric Liddell, a main character was asked why he was taking time out from his duties to run and train for the Olympics — he answered, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

We should all do what gives us that feeling inside and share that joy with others. The sharing of our souls, our thoughts, our love, our talents is what gives life meaning.

I know my daughter Abby feels joy when she plays softball. Oh she is a great hockey goalie too and loves that. But with the sun on her face as she connects with the ball and smacks it over the fence. WOW! That’s joy.

There would be a lot more joy in the world if all of us stopped to ask ourselves about what we really love to do and spent more time doing it. I haven’t blogged much this whole winter. I was so focused on other things. My life became so busy.  I was helping the world. But I cannot neglect the  joy I find in the writing chair. So I won’t!

Expect to hear from me regularly and know this: while I am talking to you I am smiling and there is a gleam in my eye just for you! Love ya! Libby

 

 

The Greatest of These is Love!

I  Corinthians 13:13

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NKJV)

My husband Mike and I were  married on July 27, 1979 at Colonial Church of Edina. It was a ceremony that we planned ourselves, involved our dearest friends in and gave our hearts to in every way. One thing we did that was especially meaningful for is was to recite the entire love chapter from the New Testament, I Corinthians 13 back and forth to each other one verse at a time. It is a powerful, beautiful chapter and so much of it has remained in my heart and is there for meditation. I read it, and I treasure the memory of it. I like to try to recite it in my head to this day. “If I speak with the tongues  of men and of angels but have not love I am as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” That part gave me pause today when I lost my temper at a circumstance in my life. Not at Mike. I was frustrated. But he heard the brunt of it. Boy was I a NOISY GONG. Not my best moment!

Later as we were reflecting on the evening before sleep, we remembered the doctor had given me a medication to take for a few days, effective in stopping rebound headaches —  a cortisone type medicine. The side effects are sleeplessness and irritability. AH HA we said. That’s where that came from. It’s not like me to blow my stack like that. I felt so badly for the calm dear man I married who heard me.

For better or worse, in sickness and in health. God has prepared us for the health problems that have taken their toll on both of us. Nothing so serious as to give is cause to fear for life or limb, except maybe once. But, they have been enough to be wearing and came mostly from me. Now we believe we are seeing the end of them for a while and rejoice in the goodness of our Lord and His faithfulness through it all.

I am especially thankful for Mike. Dear one, patient, strong and always kind. Best friend of my heart and mind. Caring and loving man that I married. I will always think the best of him, do the best for him and trust him with my life. He won my heart, earned my trust my faith in him and he is filled himself with the faith of the Lord. I honor, respect him and find him wonderful, funny and huggable. The rest is ours.

Thanks Lord tonight and every night for this good man you gave me. Bless him. Bless his days and his health and work. Lead he and I in your way everlasting. Thank you for the gift of unselfish, giving Godly love and all the wonderful kinds of love!

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

– (Harry Burns) WHEN HARRY MET SALLY

Giving Thanks Daily: Precious Gift of Life

Dad being thankful for family at his 82nd Birthday party~

“Gratitude means to recognize the good in your life, be thankful for whatever you have, some people may not even have one of those things you consider precious to you (love, family, friends etc). Each day give thanks for the gift of life. You are blessed”
― Pablo

There are so many ways to be thankful and things to be blessed for. I am thankful for my dear Lord and my wonderful family. In this picture, my dad was thanking all of us, children and grandchildren alike for coming to his 82nd Birthday party, for planning it and was talking of the blessing of having such a wide, wonderful family. He was so joyous, so honest, so touched, he touched all of us and reminded us of what is truly great in life.

What if your family isn’t all it could be, do you still have something to be thankful for? The author of the quote says yes and I agree. We still have the gift of life and what a precious gift it is! The gift to exist and have our being. To reach out to others and be blessed with their response toward us. To enjoy this beautiful miracle of His creation everyday in whichever small way we can!

So throw open the blinders on your heart and let the sunshine in. Do what my friend did today and admit to your friends you need help and watch them come through for you. You’ll get your chance to reciprocate another day. Friends stick together and help each other. That is the way it should be!

There are many wonderful blessings this side of heaven and they are mostly found in loving each other. If you’re not on the LOVE BANDWAGON yet JUMP ON, ENJOY! the ride. It’s a beautiful time. Thinking about others rather than yourself. Your Happiness Quotient will skyrocket, if you begin to focus on others and forget about yourself. You will experience true joy. For we were all made in God’s reflection and loving and giving suits us! Try it on for size. Soon you’ll be giving thanks each day for the precious gift that is your LIFE!

Grandpa (Dad) hanging with the Grandsons JOYOUS DAY!

Christmas Magic and our Journeys to the North Pole

For young children there is no confusion between believing the account of the Christ child’s birth — the real meaning of Christmas — and the magical tale of Santa and his North Pole workshop and the toys he brings to little girls and boys.

“Oh east is east, and west is west,
And never the twain shall meet–
Until they come to the end of the earth,
To Santa Claus’ retreat.”
― Walter R. Brooks

In our family, we kids lived with this dichotomy for many years. Years longer than our friends. We knew Santa was real because our dad and mom had taken us to the North Pole and Santa’s Village, many, many times.

Santa Answering Letters at the North Pole

Somewhere in the state of Colorado, high up in the Rockies, my father knew of a village replicated after the storybook renditions of Santa’s Village at the North Pole. After many days of driving in the summertime, we climbed high into the Rockies above Colorado Springs, above Pike’s Peak, past the cabin my grandma Meme owned to the North Pole. It looked just like summer at Santa’s village and we delighted to travel there. My dad and mom were always excited to show us every inch of the beautiful village, introduce us to the elves they had grown to know so well over the years, and finally to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. We sat on Santa’s lap and told him what our hearts desired, and within reason, we always got what we asked for! Sometimes even if it was a puppy or kitty!

It’s no wonder then that we argued with our friends incessantly as they tried to tell is there was no such thing as Santa Claus…we had been to the North Pole and met the real Santa! Not his helpers, the department store Santas everyone else had met, but the very real one!

It’s no wonder I believed in Santa until I was nine years old! 🙂
That Christmas was the last Christmas my parents were together. When I think of that night I am overwhelmed with nostalgia and I wonder for just a moment, why they ever parted. I know the answer in my head, but my child’s heart twinges as I think of that night.

I awoke to a noise I heard in the family room of our new house. I tiptoed down the stairs and peered around the corner from the kitchen. I could see my mom putting the stockings up on the mantel. The stockings! Santa’s private domain. My dad was assembling a toy by the tree. They were talking softly and laughing. I thought, well there they are, they are Santa after all. My friends were right.

For a moment I felt foolish, and then I looked at the warm, loving scene before me. All seemed right with the world. I felt older and quite wise. I thought I was witnessing something beautiful: love. I tiptoed back up the stairs and went to sleep. The next morning dawned sunny and clear with new fallen snow. It was an extraordinary Christmas! God bless you all! I hope yours this year is as well! Love, Libby

My house now, this Christmas

“Friends: The Glue That Holds Life Together”

Best friend Hetty and Me!

“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
― Jon Katz

Heather and I have been friends for years. We discovered each other on Twitter. She was the girl with the lion sized faith for Christ @Hetty4Christ. She has Epilepsy and had 2 brain surgeries. I thought if someone who was that powerful in God would become my friend I would be so blessed! Well friends we became. She had an epiphany and became @AliveinMe. She was living in Arizona and awaiting her third brain surgery. Trying to stay out-of-the-way of too many seizures and I was anticipating my big stomach surgery that same winter of 2010. We were on Skype, talking, praying, joking every day. She was and is a marvelous best friend.

Her third brain surgery may have been one too many…20/20 hindsight who is to say? At any rate, they seem to have nicked one of her pain centers leaving her in constant pain, especially in her legs. Uncontrollable pain, the kind that makes you wish you could take a break, you know what I mean, say good-bye to this world of sorrow and toil. But she’s strong with so much to hang on for. She has a wonderful little girl, 10. A sweet husband, and a strong faith. So she is fighting a valiant fight to cling to this world and hope and pray for an answer for her pain. Please join me will you in my prayers for dear Hetty? I call her Heather too. I feel like she has suffered so much she should have a proper grown up name like Heather, but she is such a beautiful little sprite, a former gymnast, such a Hetty. So I call her both and Honey and love. She is my dear friend and my heart aches so for her. I want her pain to lift so much! I do not want to see her this way, but I want to see her always! I love her and want her to be well!

She is my precious friend. I will fight to keep her with me. Fight to find answers for her pain and to stop all seizures. Fight for her life to be restored to her. While in pain she has become a gifted jewelry maker. We’re putting her jewelry website back up soon and I’ll tell you all about it. She is talented and gifted and has found a beautiful way to keep her mind off the pain. Necklaces, one of a kind, colorful, joyous, born of pain and crafted in love.

She is so courageous. Think of her and pray for her often will you? Especially this Christmastime? Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers. Love always, Libby

Anything Can Be!

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
― Shel Silverstein

All my life I have had a stirring deep inside of me of possibility. A feeling that something great was about to happen. An excitement that embraced each new day.

My dad, I’ve told you, thinks I’m his strongest child because of all that I have been through. I don’t know if I’m the strongest, but I am the biggest believer in the infinite possibilities in this wonderful world God created. I get very upset with those who pine for the day when they will go to heaven. I don’t mean to judge them, perhaps they are very, very ill. But not me. I never pine for that day. I have not wrung all the living I have to do out of this life yet. I haven’t accomplished all I need to carry out.

After my stomach surgery in January of 2010, I was delusional from the anesthesia. Mike was a wonderful comfort to me because his mom had the same experience a couple of times and he was sure that was all it was. So were the doctors, but Mike’s my husband and best friend he got through to me — for a little while anyway. The worst part about the delusion was I thought I was going to die. I wasn’t. But, I was convinced I was at death’s door. I couldn’t find any comfort, because my mind was delusional. It was like being lost in very dark woods. I kept praying and telling God that if he would spare me there was much more I had to do. I felt that urgency deep inside. That part of me way inside was the real me fighting to get through the dark forest. And then one day it lifted and I was fine.

Perhaps one of the reasons I do so well is not because I am strong, but because I feel God’s call on me to do so much more. I don’t know how many years I will be given, but I could use 40 or 50 or so!

So I guess I had better take care of myself. My grandfather had a funny line he used to say: “If I’d known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” What a hoot. He was hilarious. I don’t want to be an out of shape old person though, truly that isn’t funny!

I have some big challenges ahead of me in the coming days and months, career-wise, opportunities. I hope you will keep me in your prayers. I want to take good care of myself and I want to soar like an eagle with the wind at my back to make all that can be happen.

I guess the quote says it all: “…listen close to me. Anything can happen child. Anything can be.”

My 96 Yr Old Uncle Rog, the Inventor, Just Made His First Patented Prototype

The Danger Of The Little White Lie

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
― Mark Twain
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This quote had a big impact on me. Not that I’m a liar or anything, but I have been prone to the polite lies of peace-keeping society. Insidiously they can sneak into your mind and become a habit. And therein lies the danger. The more you allow the kind lies of polite society infiltrate your soul the more blurred the line between what’s true and not true will become. Suddenly you will catch yourself telling a whopper of a real lie for no reason. Now how did that happen?

You opened the door to deceit in your heart and in waltzes evil to take up residence. Now I have a girlfriend. A very good girl friend who I talk to daily on the phone. She just doesn’t lie. Then, I noticed she was telling me about a white lie she told the day before and right there on the phone she started to pray and ask God to forgive her. I was really touched. She was letting me into her personal prayer life — that we had both done before. Not only that, she was exposing a weakness and confessing it before me and God and repenting right then and there. She was making a decision to be genuine before people and before her Lord.

That is exactly how we should be with one another in love: transparent. Calling it like we see it. What she had done wasn’t so terrible, that wasn’t the point. The point was, it troubled her conscience and she wanted to make it right immediately, as soon as she thought of it, so she did.

Wow, if we could all be like that with each other, what an awesome world this would be. And if we offended someone — repenting and asking forgiveness right at the moment. Clearing the air and mending the situation with love and a hug. What a great way to live. I’m committing myself tonight to more transparency in life. More honesty with myself and with others. If we’re totally straight with people, we don’t have to try to remember anything as Mark Twain says. We don’t have to keep any story straight because there never was one.

Let’s not worry so hard about putting our best foot forward and looking and acting perfect that we’re telling polite little fibs all over the place, let’s conduct ourselves with transparency and honesty. Be real with each other. Honest. Meet each other with the truth and a genuine spirit of sharing. Not only will it keep us out of danger, it will improve the quality of all of our relationships by giving people the best gifts we have: ourselves and the truth.

Mare, my dear friend and I

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