You Raise Me Up

(I’m backing up to the day I received all the pre-surgery pathology news and how that day unfolded as the lowest point of the 3 month ordeal.  This was the Monday following  car trouble).

I was headed over highway 17 for a doctor appointment at the Stanford Clinic in Los Gatos. I had allowed no extra time as this is generally an easy commute. As I came down the backside of the summit, the traffic stopped and was backed up due to roadwork. Siri offered the brilliant idea of taking Old Santa Cruz Highway to save 10 minutes. I foolishly listened to her, ending up lost and eventually back on 17 heading the WRONG direction. By the time I turned around and got headed in the RIGHT direction, I was SO much farther back in the line-up. I was going to be 30 minutes late!

I tell you all this, simply to have you feel my pain. Misery loves company!

I phoned ahead to the clinic and they were very gracious and willing to work me in. This doctor appointment was completely unrelated to my current medical crisis, but just happened to land in the middle of it all. This was my yearly check-in with my gynecological oncologist because I had had uterine cancer.

My gyn-onc is SUPER young and SUPER cute and looks exactly like Josh Groban…you know, the charming guy who sings, You Raise Me Up.  As Dr. Groban (haha) entered the room, he solemnly looked at me and said, “How are you?”

“Oh brother,” I thought, “he’s read the report.”

This is the report from the ultrasound that I was supposed to call about but didn’t due to car trouble.

LONG PAUSE

Then he said…

“So they’ve found some cancer and will need to take a large part of your colon out.”

Awkward silence.

I didn’t cry, although I could tell he was anticipating that because he did another…

LONG PAUSE.

He began going over the report with me and I just kept thinking, “This is not his specialty. He could be wrong.”

I tried to explain what my doctor had been talking with me about and he replied, “Well.   MAYBE that would work. I mean, they do a lot of crazy, sci-fi stuff up there.”

In other words…

Doubtful, sister!

The rest of the exam was uneventful— always a good thing when seeing a cancer specialist— and I called my gastro oncologist the minute I was in my car, leaving a message about wanting ultrasound results.

As I pulled into my garage an hour later, my phone rang and it was my doctor. She began explaining the test showed pre-cancer with definite hints of stage 1 cancer. She then stated that I had two options. The first one (and I quote)…

“We could remove most of your colon.”

I couldn’t breathe.

OR…

… remove the mass, rectally, and test it further— which was her recommendation.

Ummmm.   YEAH— the second one!

She ended the conversation with, “It’s not bad news… YET.”

I hung up the phone and cried A LOT and realized I wasn’t taking breaths. I was screaming in my mind,

“You HAVE to breathe!  Take a breath.”

This was the lowest point of this journey.

Eddie and I spent a lot of time talking that night. Sometimes you have to embrace the potential bad news— let it land and then give it right back to God. Ed allowed me to share my fears and grief and after awhile, took my hand and prayed over me.

This day happened before my sweet friend had given me the amazing word picture of walking with Jesus.  As I’ve gone back and thought about these hard moments, God has given me an add-on image of my relationship with him. Now, I’m not a poetic person who uses analogies on a regular basis, but this is seriously helping me walk through life with a different attitude.

So… here goes….

I picture the same scene of me as a little girl walking with Jesus, only now he has lifted me up on his shoulders. I think of Eddie and all those camping trips to Yosemite where he inevitably ended up with Olivia on his shoulders as we hiked. Sometimes the heat and dust were unbearable, but Ed never seemed to mind. Olivia would wrap her arms around his head and cup her hands under his chin. She would playfully enjoy the excursion and her view would be so different up there—complete trust in her dad to carry her along as she enjoyed looking at Half Dome, the Merced River and the valley.

THAT’S my new addition to the image of ME trusting Jesus. He is carrying me. As Josh Groban beautifully sings,

“I am strong, when I am on your shoulders.”

Jesus is my strength as I allow him to carry me through this.

Isaiah 12:2 “The Lord is my strength and my song.”

And… speaking of a song…

It’s only fitting that I end this post with Josh Groban’s, You Raise Me Up.  (My doctor looks SO MUCH like him.  Kinda freaky.  Haha.)

(I like this version because it reminds me of my dancer, Jessica.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filling Cups

I originally wanted to name this post, “Ugh!” I met with my Stanford surgeon yesterday to go over the pathology report and my first reaction was… “Ugh!”

There was cancer found in the tumor, which means I’ll be having a lot of follow-up appointments. Every 3 months I will have some type of procedure to make sure cancer has not returned. This will go on for 2 years, and then I can stretch out the appointments to every 6 months for another 3 years. Ugh!

And each appointment will include blood-work.

Double UGH!!

To me, it was a blow. Right back to square one. I’ve JUST in the last 2 years been able to stretch out follow-up appointments to once a year.

My doctor also stated if a mass comes back in the same spot, we will have a discussion about removing my colon.

No words.

And… to top it all off, it took me over 3 ½ hours to get home from Stanford.

So… there’s the cup-half-empty version.

It’s really bothering me that my first reaction was a negative viewpoint, because it is such good news! Though it was a large tumor, the cancer was small and contained. I have clear margins and my lymph nodes are fine. I dodged a bullet and have the opportunity to be closely monitored by some of the best doctors in the world.

Cup-half-FULL!

Last week a friend gave me a beautiful word picture to help me reframe the way I see things. She said when she prays for me, she envisions me walking with Jesus. Don’t panic. NOT dead as in heaven walking with Him, more of a comforting picture— like a dad with his daughter. She said, “Picture Eddie and Olivia from behind, walking away hand in hand.”

THAT has stuck with me.

I have this mental image of me holding Jesus’ hand as we walk toward a tree. We stop and play under the shade of it, with leaves crunching at our feet and falling all around us. I am small and He’s big, smiling down at me. I picture me standing on his feet, facing Him and holding both hands as He walks… literally stepping where He steps.

Such joy and laughter.

He is my closest friend.

He ENJOYS me, and I LOVE being with Him.

Every time I feel wrong attitudes or negative outlooks creeping into my thinking, I stop and re-create the mental image of me spending time with Jesus. It’s my way of choosing joy. Choosing a cup that is filling up, rather than emptying out.

It’s a special, intimate walk with a good friend.

As I walked toward the cancer center yesterday, out of nowhere, a leaf floated down and landed on my shoulder.

It was my cue to remember the falling leaves of the tree Jesus and I are walking toward, and the assurance He is holding my hand every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keepin’ It Real

Sometimes I am too sequential for my own good, so it’s hard to write this post because I haven’t finished talking about my surgery and what led up to it.

But… I need to just write from my heart today, in real time, with real current struggles.

I am SO uncomfortable in SO many ways right now.  I’m 10 days post-surgery and the discomfort is at an all time high.  It is discouraging, to say the least!

I have several buggy issues going on and I cannot seem to get relief. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say— my butt hurts! Sorry!

The physical discomfort is affecting everything else at this point. I’m behind in everything (no pun intended- haha) and participating in the fair this week has maxed out my schedule. I am unable to exercise, and I’m not home long enough to clean house. Jessica had a rough week, which means I’m feeling it emotionally. I received a random phone message from radiology wanting to schedule a CT scan and I have no idea if this is a mistake of if my doctor ordered ANOTHER one. I have tons of curriculum to review for our homeschool co-op starting next week. There’s just A LOT of discomfort over here in A LOT of different areas!

This morning I decided to go back to square one and religiously follow my doctor’s post-surgery directions. I have been somewhat haphazardly following them because I felt pretty good last week. I think it has caught up to me, and in order to get relief, I must go back to the basics.

I could insert a whole devotional on that topic alone!

I was driving home from the store, armed with the “basic relief pack of supplies” when Olivia called me. I could tell she wanted to say something, but was struggling to get it out. Finally, through tears, she began telling me how she was playing worship music and begin crying and talking to God.

Now Olivia isn’t a perfect child… I could tell you stories of some pretty big stuff we’ve had to deal with in her life… BUT… she is a super sensitive kid who genuinely loves God with all her heart.

She said to me, “It was amazing, mom. I kept saying I trust you, God, and could not stop praying and crying.”

The minute I walked in the back door she wanted to play the song she had been listening to. She could not stop hugging me and crying and saying how much she trusts God.

This brought me SO MUCH comfort!

I took it all in as a personal message to ME from God. He is with me… and my whole family. And even though it’s hard and uncomfortable, I want to keep saying— I trust you, Lord.

Just like Olivia.

So… I am heading out the door to help with the football snack bar this afternoon, followed by sitting through the JV and Varsity games.  I pray I am blessing to others and can bring a little bit of encouragement and comfort to their lives.

It will be a long afternoon, but… I choose to worship God and in spite of momentary discomfort, I will say, “I trust you, Lord.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Car Trouble

Friday could not get here fast enough. It had been a long week! Besides doctor appointments, I had met with some friends the night before to try and diagnose my laptop and phone issues. After spending hours on it, the consensus was to make an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar, and the sooner the better!

Ugh! Such a bummer!

So, Friday morning just seemed like a perfect time to soak my troubles in a bubble bath. I rarely get to do that, but my stress level was high and the tub was calling my name. Ed had left for work and Cory was finally out the door for school after coming back twice for forgotten items. The girls were asleep so, to me, the timing was perfect.

I had JUST put some fancy conditioner on my hair when there was pounding on the bathroom door. “Mom. MOM. I crashed my truck!”

I was out and dressed in seconds—conditioner still in my hair— to find Cory on the phone with Ed.

He had gone off the road, into a ditch and hit a tree on our property.

img_9379 img_1091-1

I was thankful he wasn’t hurt and no other vehicles were involved, although his truck was basically not drive-able. He had saved up his money to buy the little Ford Ranger and that truck had brought him so much joy.  But… no time to think about that now. He needed to get to school ASAP because his two hardest classes are first.

We hopped in the mini-van, conditioner still in my wet hair, and off we went. We live at the end of a mile long dirt road, and take country roads to get to Cory’s school. It’s a fairly quick drive with no cell reception. We were almost to the school when Cory noticed a car coming towards us that looked just like Jessica’s gray Tahoe.

“Is Jessica coming back from working out or something?” Cory asked.

“No, Cory. Her car is in the shop and she’s home sleeping.”

It really did look like her car and as we passed it, I looked in my rear view mirror and then said, “Hmmmm. That’s really strange. That Tahoe has the exact same sticker on the back window as Jess.” Cory and I had a moment of how-weird-is-that, but kept driving to school.

I dropped him off, and after writing a quick note explaining Cory was late due to “car trouble,” I was heading back home.  As soon as I got to the beginning of our mile long dirt road and had cell again, I noticed a text from Ed saying, “Call me ASAP.”

Ed answered his phone immediately (THAT alone is a miracle) and calmly blurted out, “Jessica’s car was stolen.” Ed was using his I’m-completely-being-serious-voice and I suddenly began to panic as I made the connection.

“Ed. I JUST passed her car and it was heading to our house. AND… our ‘clickers’ for the gate and garage are both in the car with our address on the registration.”

I FLEW down our road, wondering what I would find at home.

The girls were safe and no-one was around.  I called Eddie back to find out what he knew about the theft.

That morning our friend, Bob, who runs the shop, had arrived early to start filling out the work orders for each vehicle.  He had noticed a guy across the lane at GM dressed as a mechanic, whom he had never seen before.  Not thinking much about it, Bob placed keys in the cars needing service and hung the orders up in the shop.  An hour later, the Chevy mechanic went out to get Jessica’s car and drive it in.

He couldn’t find it.

The mechanic and Bob searched the whole lot and the Tahoe was nowhere. Reviewing the surveillance video showed the GM imposter mechanic simply getting in Jessica’s car and driving off the lot. He stopped for a moment at GM and picked up a hidden, white bag full of stuff and away he went.

We were floored.

Jessica’s car was stolen at the SAME TIME Cory had crashed.   And… Ed was literally trying to call me with news of it being stolen AS I was passing her car on the back, country roads with no cell.

I could not stop shaking and did not feel safe.  The rest of the day was a blur of dealing with insurance, calls to the police and renting a temporary car for Jess.

I had made a deal with myself to call my doctor on this day to find out results of the scan and ultrasound if she did not call me first.   There was NO WAY I was calling.  For whatever reason, bad things seem to happen in 3’s and I wasn’t risking the odds to possibly hear a bad report!

I would call on Monday!

Nine hours later the car was found.  The police recognized the sticker on the back window— you know, the one I SHOULD HAVE RECOGNIZED— and pulled the guy over ONE BLOCK away from the Chevy dealership where it was stolen!  The guy had been on quite a joy ride and the car was filled with cigarette ashes, beer cans, red bull cans, maps, registrations, umbrellas and trash.  He only had it for 9 hours, but it looked and smelled HORRIBLE.  Chevy kept the car for a few days and completely detailed it, however… they still charged us for the oil change— hah!

I noticed something very interesting as this day unfolded.  I seemed to be the ONLY one in my family who panicked.  While Cory had pounded on the bathroom door to get my attention after the crash, he was actually sweet and pleasant as we drove to school, as if everything was just fine.

Jessica was super calm as I broke the news to her about her car, although she scolded me for approaching her as if someone had died.

Both of them were completely confident in their dad’s ability to direct the situations.

Eddie handled ALL the necessary phone calls and paperwork and would tell the kids the next thing they needed to do.

Even when he pushed them a bit out of their comfort zones, like Jessica interacting with the rental car people, they would do it because Ed had gone before them making the arrangements.

Jessica and Cory know their dad loves them.

They know he wants the best for them.

They trust him implicitly!

I’m growing in my ability to trust my heavenly Father that same way.

I John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

We made it through this “stranger than fiction” day and you’ll be glad to know that both clickers were still in Jessica’s car when we got it back, and, in case you were wondering…

I did finally get the conditioner rinsed out of my hair!

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Food

My doctor had ordered an ultrasound as the next test following the CT scan, to collect more information. In medical terms, it is a sigmoidoscopy, which is a fancy way of saying rectal ultrasound.

Now you understand why I am choosing to simply say… ultrasound.

This particular test had to be done at Stanford and required a liquid fast the night before (as well as some other unpleasant prep instructions, of which I will spare you the details).

The afternoon before the ultrasound was super busy, and I missed my last opportunity to eat something, which was okay, sad— but okay. That evening I was attending the recital of our good friend Jack Wilkins. I JUST have to mention his name because one day he WILL be famous and remember, you heard about him here first! Hah!

But seriously… he’s an amazing vocalist!

Following his performance, there was a celebration including an all out taco bar. I couldn’t believe it.

I was so hungry.

I missed my last chance to eat.

And… MEXICAN FOOD!

Realizing it would be in my best interest to slip away, I went to find Jessica to let her know I was leaving. Of course, I found her in the food line with two other friends who in unison said, “Why aren’t you eating?” Talk about adding insult to injury! How could they not remember my plight?!

I waited a few seconds for it to click, and simply said (as I tried not to stare at their heaping plates of food), “I could make you feel really bad right now.”

Still nothing.

“Guys. I can’t eat tonight, remember?” They felt sorry for me- which always helps- and I made a quick, silent exit leaving everyone to enjoy their food without me hanging around pouting.

It was a long night of drinking super yucky stuff and no sleep. At one point Eddie took a sip of the yucky stuff and reported, “That’s not so bad.” I wanted to slap him. A sip is one thing, 32 ounces is quite another!

We left for Stanford the next morning, allowing 2 ½ hours to get there and park.  I was hoping the extra time would encourage Ed to drive the infamous highway 17 at a slower pace.

Didn’t happen. We arrived in record time!

Walking toward the hospital we passed a lady who looked familiar. I took a few more steps passed her, and then it hit me. Calling out her name, she stopped and we had a moment to catch up. She was undergoing quite a few tests and the doctors had no explanations to offer. My heart went out to her and I promised to pray.

After checking in, we were in the waiting room when my referring doctor from Santa Cruz came out to say hi. It was great to see him, and he was super reassuring.  This is the same doctor who, 5 years earlier, had broken the hospital rules and wheeled me out of recovery without permission— with a nurse hollering after him, “You can’t do that!” He had even swung by the staff lounge and loaded me up with all kinds of snacks before delivering me—wheelchair, snacks and all—to my get-away car.

The procedure was fairly uneventful and I was ready to go home. Ed, however, was nowhere to be found. The nurse finally reached him after several attempts, and hanging up the phone said to me in an asking-sort-of-way, “He’s visiting someone in the hospital?”

I had no idea who that could possibly be. He had not mentioned anyone.

Finally, he showed up and began telling the story of sitting outside eating a salad when he saw our good friend, Judy, walking by. Pastor Ray, her husband, was a patient and Ed had a chance to see him and hear what was happening in his life.

It would now be a waiting game for me until my doctor could analyze the two tests.

Earlier that morning I had received an email from my good friend, Rhonda, who is someone I totally admire.  She said a lot of amazing things, and ended it with this encouragement:

Jesus says, “I am the restorer of all things you feel like you’ve lost.”

I have faced some big losses in my life (my mom’s early death, infertility, cancer), but through all of them and even BECAUSE of them, God has restored my faith more than anything.

I Peter 1:1 says, “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.”

THAT is what has been restored to me.  A precious faith.

My emotions still swing all over the place, but bottom line…

I trust Him.

It’s a precious faith I have received.

And, speaking of things being restored…guess where we stopped to eat on our way home from Stanford that day.

Chevy’s.

As in… Fresh Mex.

Mexican Food!!

“The restorer of all things you feel like you’ve lost.” Hah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Our meeting was coming to an end and I felt very strongly that I should read the scripture passage of Psalm 139 to the ladies gathered around the table. These verses have always meant so much to me because they were my mom’s absolute favorites. The whole Psalm describes how God knows EVERYTHING about us and created EVERY detail of who we are.

My mom had a ROUGH childhood of neglect and abuse with parents who had many addictions. She would tell the story of being seven years old and taken to the bars on lower Main Street with them.  There, she would sit on the floor next to her parents as they gambled and drank. Around midnight they would put her in a taxi and send her home. The house would be pitch black as she entered and she would have to grope in the darkness to find the chain hanging down for the light. She would tell of not being able to find the light chain and just sitting in the first chair she bumped in to, waiting for her parents to arrive hours later. She would sit there shivering from the cold and fear, too afraid to get up to find a bathroom and many nights wet herself.

7 years old!

As I’m writing this and reading over Psalm 139, verse 12 makes me cry as I picture her life and how these words must have ministered to her:

Psalm 139:12 “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

IMG_1060

As I closed the evening in prayer for the ladies in my group, I prayed verse 14 over them, which says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I must have repeated that phrase five or more times in my prayer, probably trying to remind myself more than anyone else.

That evening at home, my daughter, Jessica, was struggling with a lot of emotions. She has recently graduated from a performing arts college and is in that very difficult time of transition. Big dreams, little money. It’s that “when-do-I-take-the-leap-of-faith” vs “be-super-practical” time of life. Exciting and TERRIFYING. We talked for about an hour and then I began reminding her of who she is in Christ. There is SO much I could say right here, but I’ll sum it up with this:

Jess is a gift, an OVER THE TOP miracle that came when I completely surrendered my plans for a family to God.

IMG_5336

As we finished talking, I began to pray for her and again found myself repeating the phrase, “Fearfully and wonderfully made.” We cried together and affirmed our faith in God for BOTH of our situations.

As I walked out of her room, I noticed I had a text message. Someone very close to me had sent it in response to me asking for prayer for my unfolding medical stuff. The text simply read,

“You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

 

It was God’s word to my mom.

 

It’s His declaration to Jess.

 

And it’s His message to me.

 

Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_4109 IMG_5880

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!

IMG_9382

 

 

 

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.