Jude-the-Dude

The first test I had to have done was a CT scan. For most people, that is not a big deal. For me, well, let’s face it, EVERYTHING is a big deal. But, really… it’s challenging for me because my doctor wanted a scan with contrast which means an IV will be happening. It is SUPER hard to start an IV on me. I’ve been told I have small veins that roll away.

A month prior, I had been in for the colonoscopy that started this whole UNFOLDING. The nurse thought she had a good vein, stabbed me, fiddled with it and then removed the needle as I wanted to either scream or faint. She then called in two other nurses and the three of them simultaneously slapped my arms and hands to awaken my uncooperative veins. THEN the original nurse thought she found a decent vein and went for it. She got it and I got two GIANT bruises that lasted over a week. You should have seen me at barre (my morning exercise class) trying to hide those bruises! Ballet never looked so ugly!

Anyway… back to the scan…

I had to sign in and register at the front of the hospital. The lady helping me said, “So the procedure today will be $3,600.”

Wait. WHAT?!

I calmly informed her that I had insurance and she calmly informed me THAT was the price AFTER insurance paid their part.

I couldn’t even respond. She gave me a phone number of someone who could help me figure out how to pay this most unexpected bill.

Next, I was sent to radiology and began drinking the contrast. Olivia, my 10 year old, was with me waiting for my friend, Janet, to swing by and pick her up. Janet was taking Olivia to ride the mountain train at Roaring Camp. Olivia was excited to get to meet up with her new friend, Claire, and Claire’s little brother, Jude.

Jude-the-Dude.

Jude adores me because he thinks I own my very own bus. He’s almost 2 years old and we met him at Yosemite this summer. When he spotted our RV parked next to his campsite, he decided right then and there that Eddie and I were super cool.

Ahhhh. Love that kid.

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Anyway…. BACK TO THE SCAN…

Olivia was busy on my ipad when a nurse came out to get me to start the IV. As I followed him back, I began my over-rehearsed speech about how tricky it is to start an IV on me. He replied, “Oh, I’ve done a MILLION of these. I’m not worried.”

Here is EXACTLY what went through my mind: Well, great. I will now be the one whom God uses in YOUR life to teach YOU humility.

And sure enough… two painful attempts and two HUGE bruises.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I was sent back to the waiting room with the IV taped on my arm. I was concerned that this might upset Olivia, but then again, that would mean she would have to look up from the ipad to NOTICE!

I made it through the scan just fine and Olivia had a super fun day with Claire and Jude-the-Dude.

While this post has been on the light-hearted side, I want you to know that God answered a BIG prayer. A few days after the scan, I received a note from our insurance company saying they were covering ALL but $260 of the $3,600 bill.

THAT is a MIRACLE.

That NEVER happens.

What an unexpected blessing!

I Peter 3:8-9 says… “Finally, ALL of you, live in harmony with one another; (then Peter lists what that would look like)…

  • be sympathetic
  • love as brothers
  • be compassionate
  • be humble (thinking of a certain radiology nurse! hah!)
  • do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult (oops.  I might have just done that in my comment above)
  • repay with a BLESSING

Because to this you WERE CALLED.”

I have felt this verse in a strong way this past week.  It was a risk for me to share my thoughts on what is unfolding for me because it’s very personal and I have no idea HOW it will unfold.  But… the community of connection that has been extended to me is OVERWHELMING.  I have felt the sympathy from SO many, the brotherly (and/or sisterly) love and compassion.  Many have shared with such vulnerability what they are facing right now and I am able to reciprocate the offer to pray.  Be humble the verse says!  That vulnerability is humility.

The final phrase of I Peter 3:9 says, “…so that you may INHERIT a blessing.”  

I. Am. Blessed.  And so are you.

Jude-the-Dude’s mom sent me this text yesterday:  “Every time Jude talks about ‘Lowi’ and the bus, we pray for you!  So like 5-10 times a day!!”

Here’s a closing pic just to make you smile.

Blessings from me… and Jude-the-Dude!

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Repeat After Me

I have to interrupt the unfolding of my details to talk about today. I have several doctor appointments and tests from the last three weeks I want to mention, but…

TODAY!!

Sometimes God just presses the pause button on life to make sure WE know HE is with us.

My family and I went to church this morning. I’d like to tell you we walked in beaming with the love of God and each other, but that doesn’t accurately describe the Sunday morning get-out-the-door ritual. I mean, we absolutely love God and each other, but the trek from the car to the building is where we regain our composure and put on our happy, church-going-family face. Let’s just say the home departure included excessive honking, snappy comments and a touch of over-acceleration. But we made it and sat in what is becoming our usual spot.

It was a great service.  At the very end, the worship team came back to lead in a closing song. I didn’t recognize the song from the opening chords, but when they started singing the words:

You unravel me

With a melody

You surround me with a song

Of deliverance

From my enemies

Til all my fears are gone

I’M NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR

I am a child of God

They were singing my song!!

The song I linked to on my last post.

I jabbed Eddie in the leg. I had played the song for him the night before and narrated how I felt about each part of it. The moment felt like it was God’s personal message to ME.  As if a spotlight was shining down and He had asked these hundreds of people to sing MY proclamation back to ME.

I HAD to stand and just soak it all in.  Others were feeling the same way and pockets of people were beginning to respond all over the room.

I love the declarations at the end of the song when the singer almost screams,

“I AM a child of God.”

And my very favorite line is when she sings-screams…

“FULL OF FAITH.”

So….

Repeat after me:

God is always good.

And I am always loved.

I AM a child of God.

FULL OF FAITH.

No longer a slave to fear.

And in case you missed it, here’s God’s personal message to you:

Step into the spotlight and let Him love you.

 

 

 

 

Auto Pilot

It was a long, sad walk back to my car from the cancer center. I know all the promises in God’s Word: all things work together for good, He will never leave you nor forsake you, etc. etc. (I wanted to write blah, blah, blah but thought that was heading toward might-get-struck-by-lightning-bolt status so I opted for etc, etc.). While all those Bible verses are true, at that moment I was just very, very sad. My body was physically reacting to the sadness, making it hard to breathe. I must have been quite the sight as I walked the construction obstacle course back to my car.

Between the gasps and tears the one thought I couldn’t shake was —

I am in desperate need of prayer.

It was a sense of urgency. I need to ask people to pray for me in spite of the not so glamorous area needing prayer! And even more than prayer for healing or God’s direction, I wanted prayer for my emotional well-being.

I have fought against fear before (you can read about that here) and it can be an exhausting battle. Our words matter, both spoken and thought, in the fight. The way I talk to myself is a key weapon to winning the mind skirmishes. And… the words we speak fuel the inner self-talk, whether positive or negative.

A few days later I was at a Bible study sitting around a table with four other ladies. Each one was asking me for an update and I heard myself answer with a guarded hint of faith and a BIG dose of doom and gloom. As the evening went on, I felt such conviction for how I responded. Here I was, the leader of this small group, and I was leading others toward doubt and discouragement.  And furthermore, who am I to question God?!

I am SO blessed! How could I NOT trust Him?

I’m alive today because He healed me.

I’m a mom because He chose me.

I’m married to THE kindest man because of God’s kindness to me.

WARNING: This is about to get preachy for a moment. Just know I’m preaching to myself more than anyone else.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “…take ships as an example.   Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.”   (James 3:4 NIV)

The whole verse is comparing the tongue to a rudder.

Wherever the pilot wants to go!

Where do I want to go?

Deeper in faith or deeper in fear?

I MUST pilot with my words, spoken or thought, TOWARD faith and away from fear.

This song is where I’m living these days. Don’t leave this page until you’ve listened.

Sermon over.

Pass the offering plate.  Hah!

 

 

 

 

Practice What You Preach

Over the past six months I have repeated the line, “Just let it unfold,” to quite a number of my friends and family who are facing difficult situations. These include things such as a grandma with a cancer diagnosis or no money to pay for college, or an unknown future transitioning out of college, and even a son hoping for a linebacker position on the high school football team. You name it and I can easily apply “just let it unfold.”

What I mean by my oh-so-deep-brilliant line is this:

  • Don’t over-think it
  • Don’t borrow trouble
  • Let it play out
  • Look for God in all of it
  • Just do the NEXT thing
  • Don’t be anxious
  • Keep walking through it
  • God will give you grace in the journey

To me, it releases the burden of micro-managing life events and ignites faith and positivity to dominate our thoughts.

Hah! That’s all fine until it’s ME that needs to “just let it unfold!”

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I know what you’re thinking— she’s way too young to have had colon cancer— and you are absolutely right.  You can read how that UNFOLDED here and here. Anyway………. because of my history I seem to have a colonoscopy just about every year.   Again— WAY TOO YOUNG— I know!  This last colonoscopy earned me a referral to Stanford Medical Center.  My doctor was mildly concerned and felt a specialist should weigh-in on a precancerous polyp needing to be removed. No big deal. Let’s just get it out completely by the most qualified person.

I absolutely was not worried about this.  The frustrating part was taking time out of my summer to drive the almost two hours to Stanford, just to schedule another colonoscopy with this new doctor to easily remove the thing. I was so NOT worried about it that I brought no-one with me.

As I arrived at Stanford, I was greeted with the perpetual chaos of all the construction.  The new underground parking garage was like a mini war zone.  It was every patient for himself to find a parking spot amidst the honks, shouts, and racing vehicles!  The minute I parked I had a line-up of people asking if I was coming or going.  Not a calm start to say the least!

I first met with a nurse practitioner who was a spunky, enjoyable woman. She wore blue cowboy boots and a short skirt.  I think her goal was to create a light-hearted atmosphere while asking the most awkward colon questions.  I’ll spare you the details, but you can just imagine it was all a bunch of crap.  Hah!! …Pun intended.

At one point she asked me, “Do you know why you’re here?”   Hmmm.   Really good question. Next, she mentioned the doctor would do an exam. Hmmm. What could THAT possibly mean?  How do you examine a colon if it’s not a colonoscopy?

Over an hour later (and an almost finished novel) the doctor came in.  I really liked her; personable and easy to understand.  After a few more embarrassing questions she said, “So, we are going to treat this as a cancer finding,” and she began unfolding the details of the treatment plan.   I began my own “UNFOLDING”… aka… falling apart… biting my lip, cheeks, tongue.  DON’T CRY!

I cried.  Pretty hard, actually.  She waited for me to regain composure, probably surprised at my reaction because what she said wasn’t TERRIBLE, it just took me back to what it could mean:

  • Uncomfortable tests
  • Painful IV’s
  • MAJOR chunks of my time seeing doctors
  • Finding babysitters

I wanted to explain these thoughts to her, but I couldn’t recover enough to put voice to my inner turmoil.  Finally, she mentioned that at the very least, I’m facing surgery with an overnight stay in the hospital.  Her next phrase was, “Worse case scenario….”

LOST. IT!!

There was no way for me to convey the horror of that phrase.  When I faced cancer before, I was ALWAYS the “worst case scenario,” — never once did I escape that phrase.  You can read about that here and here.

As the dr. and nurse practitioner waited (probably rolling their eyes at each other) and I chewed my face up trying to stop the tears, a late realization came over me: THIS is a gastro oncologist surgeon and THIS is more involved than a quick fix.

Just let it unfold.

Easy for you…(ahem… ME!)… to say.