Not your typical Christmas break...

It has been quite the month, and I am filled with thankfulness for God's sovereignty and grace! Since my last post... Dustin and I had a wonderful time in Sarasota (beaches!) with his family for Thanksgiving and then said goodbye until March (or so I thought...). I finished my fall semester at Penn well, writing, teaching, and evaluating small group lessons and creating a massive, boring, teachery website to display it all.

Four weeks ago today I had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. The surgery had originally been scheduled for December 5th, but got postponed to the 19th because the OR was double-booked. Praise: Since the surgery was a week before Christmas, both Molly and Katy could come help take care of me in the hospital and at my parents' house, so my parents didn't have to do it alone. I came home to my parents' house in Quakertown on the 23rd. Although I don't remember much from my hospital stay (again, God's grace!), I know I was in a lot of pain the first few days, and I've been told I said quite a few hilarious things that week! Thankfully, I did not experience any vertigo following the surgery - the surgeons had told me to expect pretty severe vertigo for a few weeks. And, against all odds, it seems that the surgeons were able to preserve a tiny bit of hearing in my right ear, although it's still too early to know how much. My family did a wonderful job of taking care of me all hours of the day and night. So did someone else, which leads to the next update...

Dustin and I are engaged!!!

Here's how it happened: Christmas Eve, around 8 pm, my dad got a phone call that there was a problem with the sound system at the church and they needed him to go fix it. Not that unusual, but what we didn't know was that my mom was the one who called him from the other room! So he left, and the four of us ladies settled into the family room. Dustin and I were supposed to Skype at 9 my time, but I called or he messaged (my memory is fuzzy... the drugs...) just before 9 and he said that he was going to need another 15 minutes. I assumed that he was just leaving wherever he had been eating Christmas Eve dinner in Sosua and was headed home to talk to me. A few minutes later, the garage door opened and the phone rang simultaneously. Katy said, "Oh, it's Dad," and passed the phone to Mom to answer. She passed it to me, and it was Dustin, saying hi and asking me where I was. I think I told him I was in my house, in a chair. Then, as the door opened, I finally put together that it was Dustin's voice, on my dad's phone, who had just gotten home, and I figured out that Dustin was in my house! I hung up the phone and started crying. My parents and sisters were all in the family room, watching the scene unfold. Even when I saw Dustin, I didn't think that he was going to propose - I was just so happy that he was there, with all the stress of the surgery and all the times I had told him, "I really wish you could be here." But after we said hello, he stepped back, said some beautiful words that, thanks to the drugs, I don't remember very well. Then he got down on one knee, got out a beautiful ring, and asked me to marry him! And I said yes, still crying.

Dustin had always said that if/when he proposed, I would never see it coming. And he was right - I had absolutely no idea! I was sure he would propose when I came to the DR for spring break. I even told him that! He did a great job of surprising me, even blogging about how he would spend Christmas Eve in the DR just to make sure I didn't suspect anything!

The moment I realized Dustin was IN MY HOUSE! See him walking in on the left?

I said yes!

Dustin stayed until January 2nd, so we got to spend lots of time together resting (since I couldn’t really do anything), celebrating Christmas and New Year’s (complete with the Mummer’s Parade), and just being together. He was a trooper, waking me up to give me my overnight meds, going out to the porch at 3 am to get me applesauce, making me do my physical therapy exercises, putting up with my whining, reading to me… Dustin’s surprise visit definitely helped me recover faster! Again, God’s perfect timing – I’m so thankful that Dustin was here soon after surgery to take care of me! We’re planning our wedding for this summer in the Dominican Republic, which has kept me busy since he went home.

New Year's Day - feeling much better!

I had my post-op visit with the neurosurgeon this week, and he cleared me to ease back into normal activities, so I'm moving back to Philly on Monday and going back to school on Tuesday! Praise God - the previous estimate was a 6-8 week recovery period before I could return to school, but I'll be back just under 5 weeks after surgery. Everything related to the surgery has gone as well as it possibly could. I am thankful for a great team of doctors, yes, but more so for a great team of prayer warriors. I know many of you were and are praying for my surgery and recovery - thank you. God has blessed me immensely, and I hope that He will use my story to bring glory to His name and to encourage others.