Eeyore on Steroids: “I’d Look on the Bright Side if I Could Find it!”

I gave my usual ‘I need your best person because I’m a really hard stick’ speech to the pleasant lady checking me in for bloodwork. She was unable to locate orders which was strange as I had literally JUST walked across the hall after meeting with my doctor with clear instructions to go straight to the lab. The last thing I needed was more waiting, escalating the anxiety.

I had prayed for an uneventful appointment with my Stanford doctor, and so far, my prayer was answered… other than a possible naked man leaning his backside against an apartment window on the hospital grounds. I say possible because at first glance, I would SWEAR that’s what I saw and not wanting to stare, I can’t completely confirm.

My anxiety was simply based on dreading needles, NOT on any unusual findings. Everything was fairly routine with a quick scope procedure and check-up. The biggest challenge for all my doctors is managing follow-up care for lynch syndrome. My oncologist stated she spends a chunk of time the night before she sees me analyzing where we are and what needs to be done.

High maintenance in yet another area of my life! Hah!

After 30 minutes of entertaining myself with heating pads on my uncooperative veins, it was finally my turn. The lab is set up in a circle with full view of everyone getting their blood drawn. While contemplating the reasoning for this, I was directed to take the one and only chair in the middle of the awkward circle. I guess she hadn’t picked up on what a baby I am and how this might not be the best idea to have all eyes on me.

Even though the lab tech was amazing, I still found myself fighting the usual tears as I prepared to leave. It’s my moment of feeling sorry for myself, sad I have to walk through this. I’m sure it’s just my way of releasing all the emotions of getting through another doctor visit and hoping everything is fine.

Rounding the corner to the waiting room, I saw a family friend. It was great to see her and she quickly caught me up on the details of the last few months of her life. Cancer had been found in her spinal fluid and now she was undergoing harsh treatments of radiation and chemo in hopes of prolonging her life.

As crazy as it sounds, she looked wonderful! Even in the midst of describing horrific details, she was absolutely radiating with positivity. She laughed often, joyfully declaring how God is in control no matter the interruption to how she thought her life would unfold this year.

I was convicted to say the least.

I KNOW I’ve grown in my faith, but my friend challenged me to take it to the next level with God. Just that week I had been describing a woe-is-me, negative person to a friend and used the phrase, “She’s like Eeyore on steroids.”  I now felt like the phrase could accurately describe me and how I’ve been viewing God’s ability to work in certain areas of my life, mainly having to do with my kids. I’VE been the Eyeore-on-steroids person who only sees the impossible obstacles we are facing and not the God-who-can-move-mountains-Heavenly-Father who is more than able to meet all our needs, big and small!

I’ve been reading Priscilla Shirer’s book God Is Able, and the description on the back starts with, “Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing.” She explores Ephesians 3:20-21, building her case that God is always up to great things.

This is my summary/narrative of the verses based on her book:

Ephesians 3:20-21. “Now (our current reality and God’s present ability) to Him (eyes on Jesus!) who is able to do (for YOU) exceeding abundantly beyond (Lord, please do this or something better) all that we ask or think (He’s got it totally covered) according to the power that works within us, (flip the switch— depend heavily and consistently on the Spirit of God— make room for HIS ability) to HIM be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. AMEN!

I began journaling prayers for my three kids; what am I believing God for in their lives? On Cory’s page (which happens to be the longest right now…TEENAGERS!!) I wrote a specific prayer for his grade in summer school math. This is actually a HUGE concern in that he missed passing the second semester by one point. ONE POINT!! High school math is HARD and it has been challenging for little mister. Under my journaled prayer, I wrote…

God Is Able!

The class is now halfway done and Cory has a 95!

GOD IS ABLE!!

It might be a small example to you, but to me… it’s miraculous! AND… as I sat down to blog, I literally could have written about each one of my kids. God has answered a specific prayer I had for each one of them THIS WEEK!

So… rather than being an Eeyore in the circumstances of life, I am looking for God in everything and believing He Is Able!

In the words of the rumbly tumbly theologian Winnie the Pooh:

“Yesterday is a history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”

I’d love to hear from you and how God is working in your present situations. After all, “A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.” (Pooh)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smiling Through Pain

Let’s start with the biggest news of all from my most recent Stanford appointment. This is, well… basically… HUGE!

Are you sitting down?

Ready??

I WAS ABLE TO SLIDE MY WEDDING RING OFF BEFORE THE PROCEDURE!!  Hah!

Forgive me for all the build-up, but this is a really big deal. If you’ve followed my blog for a bit, you know I reference this extremely buggy issue often.

But…I have lost 10 lbs. …and being able to avoid the awkward conversation with the nurses of why I can’t take my ring off was HEAVEN. And hopefully the weight loss will continue and begin to show up in other places besides my ring finger!

This procedure required an IV and THAT turned into a comedy of not-so-funny errors. The first nurse about KILLED me with several failed attempts. She discreetly slipped away and nurse Donna gave it a few unsuccessful tries. Donna decided to send for Dan who is their best guy for challenging patients.

Meanwhile, I quickly got Ed’s attention, asking him to send out an IV-SOS-text for prayer to Wendy and Kelly because I was now nauseous and faint— not to mention BRUISED and hurting. The problem, however, is Ed is not a fast texter:  He over-thinks his wording and spelling before he will send anything. In the chaos of the moment, I SWEAR he asked me how to spell “IV.”  Hah!

Before the infamous Dan could arrive, an older nurse named Dixie stepped in to give it a try. Donna tried to persuade her to wait for Dan, but Dixie was determined! Donna literally leaned over me and whispered, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen.”

Oh my!!

Funny thing… Dixie got it.  First try.  No bruising.

I also had a mammogram followed by an ultrasound.  Not my favorite appointment for a number of reasons… mainly, my mom died of breast cancer and I find myself fighting twinges of fear and being super sad when these times come up.

During the ultrasound, the technician suddenly stopped the screening and with a concerned tone in her voice said, “I need to get someone to look at this.”

She abruptly left the room and I was lying there with instant tears, thinking, “This is it.  They’re gonna say I have breast cancer just like my mom.”

My mom was beautiful— reserved, classy, graceful. I feel TOTALLY ripped off to not know her through the different seasons of life. I really miss her and Mother’s Day weekend is a nice opportunity to write about her, reminding the world that Devona Dean Polk lived and was a remarkable person! Sometimes I wonder if God took her home early (age 46) because she had finally worked through all her past pain… kind of like ending on a note of joy and emotional wholeness. I don’t know. I’m not God and let’s just reiterate my life mantra yet again: I trust him. Period.

The two technicians entered the room and began fiddling with the computer screen. Within minutes the problem was diagnosed… an equipment malfunction which was never about me at all. If the original technician hadn’t been so grumpy, I would have pointed out that after reviewing a patient’s medical history, one should not run from the room stating you need someone to look at this!

Finally, many of you have asked about Eddie’s shoulder since his driveway-motorcycle accident. It hurts and is still not quite right. I don’t want to flat out say it’s an emergency situation, BUT… he’s unable to massage my neck and shoulders because of the pain, so… it’s pretty critical he deals with it!

Seriously, I keep encouraging him to follow-up on it because his future well-being and livelihood depend on it and it’s just not any fun to be in pain.

Speaking of pain, I hope Mother’s Day is a nice day for you. I KNOW it can be hard for a variety of reasons. There was a time in my life when my mom had passed away AND I was just finding out I was unable to have kids. On Mother’s Day the emotional pain was simply TOO MUCH!! If you will be attending a church service where they ask all the moms to stand up and you are struggling with becoming a mom…as Nurse Donna would say, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen!”

I do pray you find a reason to smile through life’s challenges and are able to bring some joy and laughter to those around you.

You can always borrow a line from Eddie and ask someone how to spell “IV”!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Updates and Other News

“Okay kids. Don’t buckle up. If the road drops out from under us we want to be able to get out of the car as quickly as possible.”

Yes. I actually said that— many times this past week. Ed has repositioned the orange cones and I’m again coming over the knoll looking for them in hopes our road is still there.

It is an 8 foot sheer, vertical drop down to a pile of oozing mud sloping into a deep canyon. This part of the road WAS 30 feet from the edge before the initial drop on Monday. Over the weekend, Ed also found 7 massive redwood trees that have fallen in the canyon. Crazy!

As precarious as all this sounds, the sunshine has definitely brought a more optimistic outlook, and we have several ideas for repairing it once the mud is    completely dry. But… just to be on the safe side… we are still parking most of our vehicles on the other side of the slide and using my van as a shuttle. The idea is to have as many cars on the outside should the road give way.

This plan is definitely not without glitches! Cory was running late for church so he missed the shuttle to his truck and had to hike out. Problem was… he forgot his keys on the first hike! He eventually made it… and burned a few extra calories too!

Speaking of Cory… he recently surprised us by going out for the men’s volleyball team.  Several weeks ago, he announced after dinner he was heading back to school for open gym. He randomly said he was considering trying out for volleyball and they were having an open practice for anyone interested. As he walked back in the door several hours later, he said(quoting the coach in a playful voice), “Apparently I’m a natural at volleyball.” Who knew?

The next day he came home from practice saying, “Apparently, I’m a really good server.” He was again quoting the coach and we have had so much fun prefacing every volleyball conversation with “apparently!”

At one point the coach pulled him aside to ask about his volleyball background. Cory explained his sister was on the middle school volleyball team and he would hit the ball around with her. As the coach probed further, Cory revealed that his sister is now 20 and he hasn’t touched a volleyball in 8 years!

Apparently it runs in the family. Hah!

  

(That’s Cory in all black jumping to block the ball. Apparently, he’s a really good jumper too.).

One last update…

Today I played piano on the worship team at church. The music was gorgeous…if I do say so myself. We did a very acoustic set (that’s cool band talk for less electric instruments…or something like that) and the presence of God was tangible in all three services. But…I HAD to take a picture of the door to the music room.

“Please keep door locked and closed.”

That sign is new and I’m just wondering if it came as a result of Ed and Cory snooping around back there trying to find my purse with Jessica’s keys in it a few weeks ago. Hah! I could not stop laughing to myself when I saw it.

Well, those are some of the highlights from this past week.

We continue to wholeheartedly rely on God for His direction and timing in our lives.  This verse is ministering to me so much right now….

Joshua 1:9. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Apparently, I need the reminder.

A Different Type of Valentine Post

So… I told myself I was not going to write too much about Eddie in my next few posts because the first thing he said after I read the last one to him was, “You didn’t mention me as much as you usually do.”

Are you kidding me? He had a whole paragraph dedicated to how amazingly helpful he is and never complains and now he’s complaining about not getting enough blog time?

Anyway, I just HAVE to make an exception and brag on him one more time and then he’s side-lined for a bit!

Here’s how the day unfolded:

Jessica had a flight scheduled to leave San Jose this evening, and I had agreed to pick her up from work and drive her to the airport. Problem was, it RAINED all night and all morning and flash flood warnings started coming in.

I texted my friend, Brook, who works in San Jose and asked her if she knew if Highway 17 was still open. (It’s always the first road to close in stormy weather, but is the fastest route to the airport.)

Her response: “Drive in the fast lane to avoid landslides. Hah!”

Followed by, “The cars that have been hit by the big slides are usually fine. Worst case scenario—it pushes you into the divider. Take the van!”

An hour later, Brook sent me this picture:

That’s a mudslide on highway 17!

Within minutes, the news came in that all major roads out of Santa Cruz County were closed.

The next hour was a frantic group text of Eddie, Jessica and me trying to figure out how to get to the airport.

Let me clarify that…

…basically I was frantic and Ed and Jess were calmly discussing how to work this out.

Ed agreed to pull off work early and do his best to get her there on time. He had to clean up the construction site in record time, and as he bent over to grab a tool— his pants split open across his back pocket. Haha.

I came up with a super-sensible-no-risk-long-way-around plan, but Ed made the decision to chance it on one of his favorite, backcountry, mountain roads. I really tried to talk him out of it, but he responded with, “I’m bringing my chainsaw in case any trees are blocking the way.”

He was dead serious.  

The road was extremely narrow with lots of blind turns. When they met another insane person taking it, they would have to inch by, hoping not to scrape against them. Water was cascading down the steep banks as if they were driving alongside a waterfall. Ed said the trees looked like matchsticks scattered all over.

When I asked him what Jessica was saying during all this he answered, “Dad. Slow down.”

He immediately regretted telling me that as he realized I was taking notes for my blog.

They made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

On the way home, Eddie ACTUALLY did have to use his chainsaw to cut branches off a tree that had fallen. Can you believe it?!

He also joked how his good friend who likes to take that same backroad to work had said not to tell anyone about it being open—keep the crowds away.

(At this point I quietly deleted my Facebook comment about Ed and Jess making it over Old Mt. Madonna Road that afternoon.)

Eddie is my hero. In so many ways.

I hesitate to mention… he even picked up Taco Bell on his way home because I was too stressed to cook, and ,of course, really did not want to go out in the rain. I mean, I don’t even know how to work a chainsaw out on the roads!

I’ve ended a post before with a screenshot of my texts with Brook. I thought you might enjoy her humor and insight one more time…

So Much Waiting

“Not one person has liked or commented on my Facebook post today,” I lamented to Eddie as we wound our way over the mountain freeway to Stanford.

I had linked to my latest blog post Friday the 13th asking for prayer for my upcoming procedure and out-of-whack emotions.  Having no-one respond was clearly not encouraging, and I began to wonder if everyone was as over my ongoing medical journey as I was.

We pulled into Stanford with not much time to spare— surprising I know, considering who was driving!  Ed dropped me off in the crazy valet parking line in front of the cancer center. I was grateful to miss the claustrophobic parking garage which Ed said was more chaotic than ever.

I was a last-minute add-on to the surgery schedule, so, unfortunately, I was given a 1:30 time slot which meant I was STARVING!  This was to be an “exam under anesthesia”, making sure some recent findings were not cancerous.  In MY mind, we would be back on the road by 5:00, eating wherever I wanted.

It was an uneventful check-in, weigh-in and starting the IV.  If you’ve followed my blog at all, then you know IV’s are extremely challenging to get going on me, so I was thankful.  No pain and only one stick!

Eddie was allowed to come back and hang out with me in the pre-op room.  It was kind of a ghost town back there, with only 2 other patients waiting their turn.  The nurse began timidly updating us to the possibility of a delay with my doctor who was stuck in a surgery that was running late.  I didn’t panic, I mean, I was hungry, but a little delay is not that big of a deal and we had found a TV station running a marathon of Seinfeld episodes.

FOUR EPISODES LATER, I was STILL waiting. Everyone was gone from pre-op except my nurse, Eddie and me. The nurse was getting a bit antsy to shut down the unit and get off work. She was probably starving too!

After another hour, she moved me to the recovery room, wished me luck and clocked out, leaving me with more waiting and no TV.

FIVE HOURS after checking in, I was finally being wheeled to the Operating Room.  My doctor explained she had been stuck in another doctor’s surgery, basically twiddling her thumbs waiting to do a tiny procedure.

TWENTY MINUTES later I was back in recovery.  As I came to, I felt so good!  This was the first time in recovery that I wasn’t nauseas at all.

Meanwhile, everyone was trying to track down Ed- who had no idea I would be out so quickly.  Poor guy… he was trying to spend the $5 meal ticket Glenda from Guest Relations had given him as a sort of apology for the long wait.  Problem was, all the food places had closed!

My doctor personally found him down in the pharmacy line, which was also closing!  She informed Ed that she had taken 2 biopsies and would call us with the results.

We were on the road by 7:30 and eating corn chowder at Mimi’s by 8.

So much waiting!!

Waiting to eat, waiting for surgery, waiting for likes/comments on Facebook, waiting for biopsy results, WAITING TO BE PAST ALL OF THIS!

Are there benefits to waiting? Can anything good come of delays in life?

I love this definition of faith:  Faith is waiting to let God work.

It’s a surrender to letting the plan God has for our lives unfold in his way and in his timing.

Romans 1:17 ends with the phrase, “The righteous will live by faith.”

Or… we could say…

The righteous will live by waiting to let God work.

God is doing so much in my life through this season of waiting on him.  It’s not easy, but it’s definitely beneficial.  There’s a deepening in my relationship with him that I’ve never experienced. He is showing me the depth of his love as my Heavenly Father. 

As we headed home, I once again clicked on Facebook and realized I had accidentally tapped the privacy setting on my post, making it visible only to me.  Within seconds of correcting this, so many friends and family were responding with encouraging comments and promises to pray.  The timing was perfect as the prayers carried me through the week until I heard from my doctor yesterday………..

The biopsies came back as not cancer!

My prayer for you is that you would live by faith.

Live by waiting to let God work.

As I’ve said before…He’s worth the wait!

 

 

 

Timber

I was minutes away from walking out the door, having planned my departure down to the last second.  Racing up the stairs one final time, my mind was trying to assimilate what my peripheral vision had captured.  Was I imagining things or was our fully decorated Christmas tree leaning forward, slowly inching toward the floor?   Really?  This was going to happen?  Now??

Quickly, I grabbed a ladder, propping it against the tree.  Next, I shoved a chair against the ladder, followed by the couch – bracing the chair -bracing the ladder… hoping the reinforcements would hold the tree in place until I (or more likely, Ed) could deal with it.

The scene was like a snapshot of ME, and what I feel God has been working out in my heart.   My whole life feels like propped-up chaos!!

         I could definitely talk about my continual racing all day, everyday, from activity to activity to appointments with homeschooling thrown in to the mix- all of which has left me in complete disorganization.  I’m almost to the point of believing that the only way I will ever be able to claw my way out is to move!  Recently I came across a fitting acronym for CHAOS:  Can’t  Have Anyone Over Syndrome

Hah!  So true.

However, while all the above is more than apparent in my life, God is nudging me to apply a different concept to my leaning Christmas tree object lesson.  So… here goes.  And, my one request (as my kids would say) …don’t judge me.

Some background:  My strategy for beginning a new year is not to write specific resolutions, but rather to name my year.  One incredible example of this is from January of 1996; I was childless and lacking in faith.  I purposefully christened that year as the “Year of Faith.”  I wrote verses on faith, read many books and DAILY surrendered my dreams to God.  Before that year was over, God miraculously blessed us with our first child, Jessica.  My faith was ENCOURAGED!!  It was not a magic formula to force God to come through.  The magic was in the surrendering and the focus of my heart.

Fast forward to 2013.  This is my “Year of Freedom.”  To be free is to be secure in Christ.  What would I be capable of if I were truly secure (Beth Moore)?  If I really grasped who I am in Christ?

Synonyms of insecurity (or insecure) include instability, hanging by a thread, shaky, un-poised (sounds like my Christmas tree) as well as self-doubt and anxiety.  I really thought I was through fighting this formidable foe, yet lately the struggle seems to have picked up some new momentum.

My emotions have literally run amuck with some ridiculous overanalyzing of EVERY interaction I have with people.  I am just positive that everyone (Ed and close friends included) finds me annoying and not worth their time.  How defeating!  Debilitating!  And… AM I THAT SELF-CENTERED IN THAT I MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT ME??

I find it fascinating that since naming 2013 my year of freedom, I’ve been feeling more insecure than ever!  And, even more eye opening to me, is that a key synonym of the word security is…FREEDOM.  As strange as it may sound, I am very encouraged that I’m on the right track.  The intensity of my emotions is reflecting the “heat of my personal spiritual battle.”

God is dealing with me down to the very roots of my issues.  He is in the process of removing my emotional props.   The craziest part of all of it is this: to be free is to surrender everything.  Give up all control.  Die to self.  Submit to Christ’s authority.  THAT goes against every natural inclination.  I can’t earn freedom on my own.  I can do nothing BUT ….give up!  Give it over.

2013 is going to be an unbelievable year for me!  I am purposing to stop trying to hold everything in place.  While I may feel like I’m free falling, I will keep my spiritual eyes intensely focused on Jesus.  He is my support.  My protection.  My salvation.  My security.  My FREEDOM!

Timmmmm-berrrrrr.   This tree is going down into the amazing, grace-filled arms of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:17  “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM .”