Sunday, November 19, 2017

Neighborly Love

From the couch, where I'm still laying (it's been four days of being sick now), I could hear noise going on outside ...  the chugging engine of the lawn mower, chatty children's voices speaking Czech, and the voices of Dave and Pavel, our neighbor.

I finally got up to investigate.

On this wintry Sunday afternoon, they are collecting the last of our woodpile from out front, putting it in the trailer, and driving it around to the side of our house!

This is a gift of neighborly love to us!

There is nothing like having a stack of wood ready for the winter, under the cover of our porch. On snowy nights later on, we'll just step out and grab some to bring inside for a fire.

Five years ago we had a huge load of logs delivered to our house that Dave and friends split and stacked. That pile has lasted until now!

I don't know if it will see us through another winter, but I'm sure enjoying the fruits of their labor, even right now, from my perch on the couch.

Feeling very thankful: for my husband's care for me, for the kindness of neighbors, and for an awesome fireplace that ministers to my body and soul!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

If A Dog Was Your Teacher

My sweet little Kaylee, almost seven years old now, has been such a faithful companion these past three days as I've been sick in bed with the flu...or whatever this is that I have.

She's laid right next to me all day, every day, until she thinks it's time to check in. Then she comes and stands on top of me, looking me in the eyes as if to ask "Are you feeling better yet??"

That happens about five times a day.

Someone posted this on Facebook recently and now is a great time for me to post it here. Yes, Kaylee and every other dog has things to teach us. I'm trying my best to learn from her! đŸ¶  đŸ˜‰  đŸ’–

Friday, November 17, 2017

Doctor + Health Update

For some of you this update does not matter. If you have no need of knowing what's going on with me physically, please feel free to skip it.

But for some family and friends, you've been praying and want to know. It's easiest to explain here.

The short background is that four years ago something shifted in my body. Maybe it was the start of menopause? Maybe it was something else? Whatever the cause, I started losing energy and not feeling as well as I knew I should. It's been a long four years of trying to figure it out.

Fast forward to earlier this fall when I went to see a new doctor in Vienna. She is a sort of "Dr. House", the television doctor who specializes in finding out things that other doctors haven't been able to. I'm so thankful to the Lord that there is a real doctor who has this ability.

After hearing my story two months ago, she ordered tests and told me she thought she could help get to the root of what was going on. That help started on Tuesday at my appointment in Vienna where I met with her to get results from the tests.

The first results had to do with my hormone levels. In a perfect world, a woman's estrogen to progesterone ration would be 1:100. Mine is 1:5. In fact, it's even less than that and that's not good. My levels are so low she wondered how I'm even functioning.

The next results had to do with all my mineral and trace minerals levels. Those are abysmal. I am low on almost everything...except iron, which she found curious. But you name it, I'm low in it.

The third results are an effect from the lack of hormones and minerals. The mitochondria in my body have almost no power. Don't know what mitochondria is? Neither did I!

She explained that they have everything to do with bacteria, energy and my body's life sustaining processes. So they're very important, and they're not working very well. This is a great explanation:

Everything that the body does, from staying warm, to moving and thinking needs energy. The energy that we use comes from the proteins, carbohydrates and fats in our food. We are unable to use these directly, but instead need to convert them to a form of energy that cells can use called ATP. You can think of this like a battery. This converts chemical energy into a different form (in this case electrical) that is easier to use. For our bodies the conversion from food energy to ATP happens in mitochondria. If your mitochondria are not working properly then you are less able to convert food into ATP. For cells that require a lot of ATP, for example your muscles, this is a problem and they may become weaker and get tired faster.

The last result of the tests had to do with allergies. She had ordered an extensive blood panel to identify allergies my body has. There are six major ones: gluten, casein, egg whites, sunflower seeds, almonds and pepper. There are some lesser ones as well, but we're only focusing on these for now.

These are kind of a big deal, especially casein (though of course gluten is a big deal too, not to mention egg whites!). I had no idea how much can be impacted in your body if you are allergic to casein, the protein found in cow's milk. For people, like me now, who are allergic, casein clumps in my stomach and slows down the digestive process and release of nutrients. Not a good thing.

So in a nutshell, that's what I've got going on, and what she and I are going to tackle over the next year!

She wrote out an extensive regimen for me, which includes lots of supplements, restrictions, and diet changes. But I am SO ready for this! She laughed every time I told her how happy this news made me, saying, "I wish all my patients were like you!"

I'm honestly just SO very thankful to the Lord for leading me to her (the referral came from some of my JV teammates who have also found significant help through her), and will do anything she tells me to in hopes of regaining some ground that's been lost for the past 4 years.

Some people say I don't look sick, and that's a compliment and a praise to God: I've worked hard at not letting this rule my life, while at the same time praying for a breakthrough. I think this may be it, though I know it will take time to implement and time to see change.

I posted this photo the other day, from my time in Vienna with my sister-in-law. But it bears posting again since it captures the joy in my heart of being cared for by the Lord and by this amazing doctor.

On another note, I've ironically had the flu now for 48 hours, but thankfully am starting to see the light of day. Knowing the weakness of my body right now, I'm not going to do what I usually do and try to push it. Rather I'll give it the time and care it needs to get well. There are too many wonderful things ahead in the coming weeks and months that I want to enjoy!

Thanks for reading and processing this with me. It's a lot, but I'm up for the challenge of wading in to make changes that should result in a healthier me. I keep saying, "The Lord must have more ahead of me if he's brought this kind of amazing help in order for me to get better."

That makes me excited about the days, months and years ahead!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sleeping, and More Sleeping

After a great doctor's appointment and a wonderful time with my sister-in-law in Vienna yesterday, trouble struck on the way home in the train.

Some sort of virus hit me head on, which truly had me wondering if I'd make it home in one piece.

Five minutes from arriving into Ostrava, I'm documenting that the Lord gave grace to make it that far

I barely made it, going straight to bed when I arrived home. I have been there ever since.

It feels like it's some sort of flu virus since I have all the classic signs. I can't believe how swiftly it struck after having felt fine all day in Vienna. I can absolutely thank the Lord for the timing of that.

My faithful companion spent the entire day and evening here with me as I slept most of that time today.

Trusting the Lord for relief tomorrow.

**You may wonder how I can blog when I feel so sick. After sleeping most of the day, I needed something to break up the monotony of doing nothing before heading back to sleep for the night!**

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sister Sleepover

My sister-in-law Kristi has lived in Slovenia for 16 years, with her husband and four children. Between her busy life and mine, we have never managed to have a sister's overnight in all these years.

That changed last night! Since I had a doctor's appointment to go to in Vienna, she came to meet me so we could have time together.

From 2 PM when we met at the train station yesterday afternoon, until almost 1 AM, we were talking! Conversation flows that sweet and easy between us. Today was more of the same.

Neither of us has a biological sister so from the time she married into the family 25 years ago, we've always just called each other "sister". We feel the same way about our other sister-in-law, Joyce, who also doesn't have any sisters other than us! We missed her on this trip, with Kristi sending her "Snapchats" to say that!

Feeling refreshed after our night in the "princess hotel", with a lavish breakfast to nourish us, we headed across the street to a magnificent sight.

The Austria Trend Park Hotel where we were staying sits on the very edge of Schönbrunn Palace, a former imperial summer residence that is just spectacular!

The Schönbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodeled during the 1740–50s during the reign of empress, Maria Theresa, who received the estate as a wedding gift. Imagine that!

Though it's mid-November, there is still some fall color in the leaves making it a spectacular sight on this beautiful sunny day.

You could spend days wandering around the grounds with its vast gardens that have spanned 300 years of history. With a zoo on sight, as well as the Palm House above, and many other buildings, the grounds truly sparkle under the loving care of their gardeners.

Just outside the gate is a Lindt chocolate store, with, I think, every possible item they make. Oh yes, of course we had to go in and sample!

Then with coffee in hand, we walked back onto the grounds and sat on a bench for an hour, soaking in the delight of having this time together in such a lovely setting.

Looking forward from our bench, this was our view ...

And looking overhead, THIS was our view! You really couldn't go wrong any direction.

We both said to each other that we would have been happy to stay there all day, wandering back onto the palace grounds, or back into the Lindt shop for more chocolate and coffee!

But we tore ourselves away and took the subway back to Vienna, to a place I had scoped out for us to have a treat.

If you do a Google search and ask where the best apple strudel is in Vienna, you are very likely to find Cafe Museum, a Viennese coffeehouse dating back to 1899. So of course we had to go there.

After having just found out that I have an allergy to casein (the protein commonly found in cow's milk), I knew I could no longer have my latte or macchiato. But you know what my doctor told me? I CAN have whipped cream!

We can attest to the fact that Cafe Museum does indeed have some of the very best apple strudel, so would highly recommend a visit there if you happen to be in Vienna!

Needing to go downtown before leaving for home on the train, we made our way there. So fun to see the Christmas decorations going up today!

In fact, today was actually the official opening (according to their advertisements) of the world famous Christmas Market in Vienna!

Millions of people will flood these streets over the next six weeks, enjoying all the sights, sounds, tastes and smells. But today, only a few booths were open as mostly they were just setting up for the holidays, like the chestnut roaster.

Claire would be so happy to go visit him as she truly loves chestnuts roasted on an open fire!

I made a quick stop at Old Leopold's Pharmacy downtown before hurrying back by subway to the train station.

These past 26 hours in Vienna with my sister-in-law were so nourishing and delightful. I think we shouldn't wait another 16 years to meet up here again!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Being Cared For

Because my doctor appointment here in Vienna was two hours long today, we didn't leave until it was dark. Which meant finding our hotel in the dark.

We again navigated the subway, and came out at what we hoped was the right spot. After a few missed turns, we came around the corner to this.

One of the things that I love to do is research places to stay. I like finding beautiful places for the best deals. From the internet this looked like a nice place and had good reviews. It was also very affordable.

I had no idea that it was such a treasure!

What I'd neglected to do when looking it up on Expedia was read further to find out its history!

At the Parkhotel Schönbrunn you can experience imperial Vienna on a truly personal level: the hotel is located in the carefully restored former guest house of Emperor Franz Joseph I. It was originally a rest stop, opened in 1787, which was taken over by Ferdinand Dommayer in 1823 and expanded into an inn. In the decades that followed, it was transformed into the venue for lavish balls, and became a byword for the Viennese lifestyle. Numerous works by Johann Strauss the elder and younger, as well as their contemporary Joseph Lanner, were premiered here. The Parkhotel Vienna was constructed from 1907 to 1908, according to plans drawn up by the Austrian architect Arnold Heymann. As well as 70 guest rooms and dining rooms, the hotel boasted a ballroom and a Viennese coffeehouse.

It went on to say:

Many of Emperor Franz Joseph’s guests stayed in this first-class hotel in the years that followed, including inventor Thomas Edison in 1911. The building was partly destroyed by fire in 1923, and was used as a military hospital during the Second World War. After the war ended and until the hotel was reopened in 1954, it served as the officers’ mess for the British occupation forces. 

In 1963, following another fire, the hotel was completely renovated and extended to become, at that time, the biggest hotel complex in Vienna. Austria Trend Hotels has operated the hotel since 1999, and in 2010 it was modernized and expanded. Since the grand opening in November 2011, the Parkhotel Schönbrunn’s unique combination of imperial nostalgia and modern conveniences has allowed guests to experience all the aspects of true Viennese charm in perfect comfort.

I'm rather glad I didn't find all of that out until later as it was SUCH a surprise to walk in and find such elegance everywhere.

After putting our things in the room, Kristi and I went to find the restaurant. We headed down a hallway at the instructions of the front desk clerk. But upon opening the door, were told that only breakfast is served here but that the real restaurant was in the front of the hotel (the old Viennese coffeehouse talked about in the history).

The man told us that the sign over the door is actually UNESCO protected, as it is over 150 years old and can't be removed!

Marie Theresa is another very prominent figure in Viennese history!

Everywhere we turned we found Viennese elegance!

Right down to the bathroom! Yes, I think this is the very first time I've ever posted a picture of a bathroom on my blog.

We had an absolutely delightful dinner in the restaurant, once the old coffeehouse. While I forgot to get pictures of Kristi and I there, I did remember to take one of the dessert we were served!

Being here made us both feel like princesses being taken care of by our dad, the King.

I guess there's some truth to that!

**If anyone happens to be planning a trip to Vienna, I can't recommend the Austria Trend Park Hotel Schönbrunn enough!**

Rushing for the Train

Tuesday mornings are iTeam meetings at our JV office in Frydlant. I stayed until the last possible moment before needing to leave so I'd catch my train at 11:08 AM this morning.

While I'd left enough time for normal traffic, I hadn't left enough time for a detour or a traffic jam. Think...traffic completely stopped on the highway while the clock is ticking. YIKES!

I texted a couple friends to ask them to pray, with one writing me back saying, "Praying that someone would pull out of the closest spot at just the right moment".

Concern for not making my train was obviously my number one thought. But number two was actually finding a place to park at the train station. When they built the little lot many years ago, they didn't foresee all the cars that would drive to the station before people got on the train!

With that in mind, I knew there were parking spaces about three blocks away from the station so drove a different way in order to drive to those spot. I hoped I'd have enough time to run to the train if there was a spot there.

As you can probably guess, there wasn't!

My hopes of making the train were quite small at that point as I headed to the little parking lot that I know usually fills up by early morning, leaving no spaces for mid-morning passengers like me.

As I drove in, I couldn't see a spot, but the parking lot attendant asked if I was parking for longer than to pick up a passenger, and when I told her my car would be there overnight, she directed me to THE LAST PARKING SPOT!! Behind me she pulled the "FULL" sign into the roadway.

I grabbed my things from the car, and ran as fast as I could to the train platform, arriving at ... can you see it?

The train was two minutes late, pulling up to the platform at 11:08 (it was supposed to leave at 11:08!), exactly to the car where I had a reserved seat!

It took me quite a few minutes to stop shaking once I sat down in my spot - I honestly can't remember when I've ran quite that fast. It was nice to have a cute little companion across from me to take my mind off the sprint. Once I gathered my wits about me, I sat there praising God for that parking space, for the train's tiny delay, and that I was safely on my way!

The rest of the ride was blissfully uneventful, with the weather changing for the better as I sped towards Vienna.

Today was the day of my follow-up appointment with the doctor who had ordered a bazillion tests for me back in September when I first met her. I went for those appointments at all the labs in October. Now today was the day I was getting the results.

But first, I met up with someone who arrived just a few minutes after me.

That's my sister-in-law, Kristi who lives in Slovenia, serving there with Josiah Venture alongside her husband and kids. She rode the train up to Vienna today so we could spend some time with each other.

After a quick lunch at the train station, we navigated public transportation like a couple of Viennese ladies who know their way around (HAHA! Thanks Google!), and headed towards my doctor appointment in the suburbs of Vienna.

We got off one metro stop too soon so ended up walking 2 1/2 kilometers to the doctor office. But it was such a beautiful fall day that neither of us minded the walk, nor the fact that we got to the office a half hour early!

I'll write later about my doctor appointment, but suffice to say, it FAR exceeded my expectations in terms of understanding why I haven't been feeling well. 

What a joy to share the day with Kristi! And we have a whole day ahead of us to just be together!

Monday, November 13, 2017

From One Day to the Next

Yesterday it still felt like fall at our house. I wrote about it HERE.

Today? It's a different story!

When I woke up there was a little layer of snow covering the ground. It snowed off and on throughout the day, which made for a cozy day inside to catch up on a lot of work and emails.

By this evening, the snow is barely hanging on, which honestly makes me kind of sad! I always like the first snow.

I was sitting by our fire just now, working on my computer when all of a sudden I looked up to see this.

Can you see the pink sky???

There had been no sunshine all day, and I don't even know if there was at that moment. But somehow the light refraction caused a beautifully pink sky. It lasted all of two minutes! Now it's 4:45 and completely dark.

The days are definitely getting shorter. But there's a beauty to it that I love!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

At the Right Time

As fall rapidly descends into winter here in Czech, the days are shorter, the light is less and frankly, there are a lot of gray days from now on.

But today was something different!

Dave and I were headed home from errands in town after having been at church. I asked if he could take the back way just in case it was pretty.

It was!

We came over the rise of the road and found this right in front of our eyes.

LysĂĄ hora, our biggest mountain in the Beskydy range, is behind the cloud. But still! It was spectacular.

I asked Dave to take a quick right hand turn up towards the church in Malenovice so we could overlook the valley.

Though the sun was already heading down (and it was just 2:15 PM) we were rewarded with that beautiful sight.

The village of Malenovice is building a new pathway up to the church that overlooks the village. It was fun to see the progress of it.

While it's still a steep climb up there, the path will be easier now! It should be done by the end of this year.

What joy to have been in the right place at the right time today!