Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Hiked 65,843 Steps and All I Got Was This Bible Verse

I hiked 65,843 steps in one day.  I never would have imagined that hiking all those steps was going to be one of the easier challenges I would face these past few weeks.
Yes, I climbed all the way up this and then a lot more.

I had a bunch of different ideas about how I would write this post; about how I was going to convey the incredible experience I had hiking the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim over 24 miles in one day.  The climb is over a mile in elevation for the eight mile ascent on the north wall which is done after already hiking 16 miles.  How does one put into words how taxing it was physically, emotionally and spiritually?  I finally figured out the point of this post was not to pontificate about the beautiful vistas, the closeness I gained to some amazing people, how my sister helped me never lose sight of our goal, or even brag about the physical accomplishment.  Nope.
Impromptu "prop camera on a rock and set the timer" yoga photo shoot
This photo is my favorite because of the amazing people in it and
captures the only time I have ever seen this part of the Grand Canyon
(about halfway up the North Wall)
I am here to talk about how I used what I learned in the Grand Canyon to get through the hell that was the following weeks. 

Descent completed, still smiling

SH2 had a fever two days before I left on my hike.  She times her heart breaking illnesses with the exact moments I am leaving to do something fun while my husband stays home with the kids.  (After his most recent heroics, my husband will be shooed out the door with a kiss and a smile to go hunting with his brother in November even if we all come down with Ebola.)  Back to the fever…her sister, SH3 developed a temp the next day so we chalked it up to viral illness and off I went on my adventure ensuring that he was stocked up on inhalers and ibuprofen.   My husband and I spoke Saturday night, seven hours before my planned hike, he told me SH2 had a fever he couldn't get down and was vomiting, and he had been worried enough to contact my best friend who is also a pediatrician to get advice.  I started to cry.  Why God why?  How could I leave my baby to do this hike?  Why was I so selfish?  My sister and a dear friend prayed for SH2 and I for healing, safety, and reassurance that this was where I was supposed to be.  At the time I was doubtful, but turns out I was in fact meant to do the hike all along.
The vastness of the mighty Colorado River on the floor of the Grand Canyon is indescribable
My sister is off to the right, more than half a mile from the first bridge
SH2 was still battling high fevers all that weekend and into the next week.  We took a few trips to the doctor and did the appropriate testing.  Her sister had long since gotten over the fever and her brother had a similar two days of cranky temperatures and then was back to himself in no time at all.  I was back at work, tired, sore, and trying to be prayerful and at peace about all of it while the fevers raged on.  Friday night came and went now 10 days in and things started to get out of hand.  Over the next 24 hours she was 104 F (a lot) and it was not coming down with medications; we were a miserable mess, exhausted and scared.  I came home from work on Sunday (day 12) afternoon to find her lying on the floor, eyes unfocused and moaning with a temp to 104 F with Tylenol and ibuprofen on board.  For the first time in my 6.5 years as a parent, I took one of my kids to the emergency room. 

My very sad and sick SH2
She was “fever of unknown origin”, “septic”, a puzzle—you never want to be an interesting case or be presented at any type of educational conference;  trust me it is not a compliment.  A little over 24 hours, a plea for prayers, and miraculously we had our answer.  She had a severe kidney infection (honestly the best possible outcome).  Now the question I have to ask is, "Why did this happen?"  This had me wondering if she has reflux of urine up to her kidneys.  Is this why she has been so difficult to potty train?  Could this really just be her God-given anatomy?  OH NO!  How could I accuse my poor, sensitive SH2 of being a terrible potty trainer, lazy, vindictive, and emotional?  Clearly there is more investigation to be done.

I typed this when we were still in the hospital from my makeshift “bed” in the corner of the room.  I found myself sitting there zoned out and listening intently for SH2 to stir or moan.  Before I knew it, it was midnight and time to check her temperature again.  I think I was subconsciously staying up to see the whirl of the red thermometer display show me anything under 100.4.  No fever and we would get to go home soon.  

My view of constant vigilance and place of intercession
The evening I hiked out of the canyon, the following Bible verse showed up on my phone.
Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name:  Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.  ESV Jeremiah 33:2-3
I didn't understand it at the time.  Sure, I believe that God formed the Grand Canyon, and to truly appreciate the canyon's and God's greatness I had dreamed of hiking it rim to rim-- I just didn't get the second part.  I finished the hike and was on top of the world; I felt in control of my life and pretty squared away on answers.  Admittedly, this bothered me a little.  Was my heart being prepared for something bigger?  Was I going to need to call on God for answers?  Had I trained hard enough?  Why oh why did I ever say "Come what may?"
The Lord who formed it to establish it...
I found the verse again several days later when I was attempting to write this post (for the third time).  I was reflecting on what I had gained from the experience and looking for inspiration.  I re-read the verse with shocked awareness.  In its most literal meaning, I had a puzzle on my hands and I was seeking answers.  I called to him and asked everyone I knew to do the same, to pray for us, to pray for her, to pray for answers.  I wish I could say my faith and strength never wavered these past several weeks.  I want to say that I knew all along it would be okay and that I trusted God’s plan implicitly, but I can’t.  I cried a lot.  I became numb with fatigue and emotion.  I wanted it to be over, I dreamt of spending the night in my own bed next to my husband with the soft whispers of breath coming in over the baby monitors.  I told God it wasn't fair.  I am human and thankfully forgiven.

Emerging from the north wall into the cold dark clearing at the top of the canyon was not the end, it was just another training hike.  I was strengthening my spirit, mind and body for the exhausting days ahead.  This one verse was the trail map to help me navigate the climb and have reassurance that I was not in control; there was a bigger plan at play here.  

Back to SH2, her temperature?  It was 97.9, we were discharged on the fifth day.  
The day I hiked 65,843 steps was the most physically taxing day of my life.  The afternoon I took SH2 to the hospital was one of the most emotionally difficult things I have ever had to do.  I am content to never repeat either experience but that is not my decision really.
Come what may, I am all in.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.         ESV 2 Timothy 4:7

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