The Keys to a Happy Family…Literally

I could not silence the incessant beeping coming from my minivan.  One of the electric doors would not slide into place and the noise was escalating the whole drama of me, already running a few minutes late.

It was EARLY Sunday morning and I was scheduled to play keys on the worship team at church.  (That’s cool band talk for keyboard.)  I had no choice but to wake up Eddie.  Graciously (and groggily I might add) he came out to the garage and body-slammed the van door until the beeping stopped.

I have to pause here and say:  Eddie is ALWAYS willing to help no matter how inconvenient it is for him.  Me— not so much.  I roll my eyes, sigh and even stomp toward whoever needs me.

Super dramatic!

Ed comes to the rescue the minute he is needed and never complains.  I mean, here he was, standing in the cold garage on this rainy morning in his boxers and a t-shirt, no contacts…beating on my car.

I took off down our steep driveway and as I rounded the first curve a loud beeping announced that the door was sliding OPEN! I zipped back up the hill and Eddie again beat on the door until it fully closed.  This time I locked it and Ed felt confident I would make it to church without it sliding open.

Same corner.  Same result.

I quickly made the decision to commandeer Jessica’s car.  This was a bold move on my part because she really needed her car to get to work in a couple hours.  I drove away leaving Eddie to figure out how to get Jessica to work and the rest of the family to church.

Band practice and the first church service went really well.  As I got set-up at the keyboard for the second service, I made eye contact with Cory and was happy to see he was sitting where it would be easy for me to join him.  I knew Ed was taking Olivia to her class and would appear soon.  Jess had driven Cory’s truck to work AFTER Ed made an early morning trip to the gas station.  (Cory always runs on fumes!)

The music was beautiful that morning.  I kept trying to glance at Cory and Eddie without being too obvious, but, for some reason, was unable to spot them in the crowd.  I waited until there was a break in the action (a.k.a. “greeting time”) and scanned the room, but they were nowhere to be found.

Hmmm.  Very strange.

We finished the last song of the worship set, and quietly headed for the door at the back of the stage.  Imagine my surprise as Cory was the first person I saw.

“What are you doing back here?” I asked.

“Mom!  Where are Jessica’s keys?  We’ve been looking everywhere for them in the music room.”

He went on to explain how Jessica arrived at work and was unable to unlock the door because… I not only had her car keys, I also had her work keys! She was standing in the rain with customers, waiting for Cory to bring them to her.

Oops!

Cory and Eddie had been searching every nook and cranny trying to find where I stashed my purse during church.  Little did they know— I hide my purse on stage because of people like them: YOU NEVER KNOW WHO MIGHT BE RUMMAGING THROUGH STUFF BACK THERE! Hah!

I’d like to say this is an out of the ordinary day in our lives, but… no can do.

Life is crazy, hectic, busy, full and packed with every emotion you can possibly think of.  We have hard days as a family, filled with big struggles and on-edge emotions that takes everything in us to get through.  But that’s just it:  Jesus is in us and He’s the reason we can love one another and make it through challenging times.

(And silly, inconvenient times like car doors sliding open while driving and needed keys hidden on a church stage).

This verse is the key to getting along with others and, for me, it starts with my family; they are the ones seeing the real me.

Ephesians 4:2-3  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I am not humble (eye rolls, sighs, stomps) yet alone, COMPLETELY humble.  What does that even mean??  And my words have a natural “snap” to them rather than a gentle caress.  Let’s don’t even venture in to the next phrase of being patient!

Luckily, Jesus is so patient and COMPLETELY gentle with me (and I know exactly what that means).

More than anything, I want each member of my family to be growing in their faith and know how much they are loved by Jesus.  THAT is literally the key to a happy family.

And… it wouldn’t hurt to COMPLETELY upgrade the old minivan!

Just sayin’!

 

 

 

 

 

Friday the 13th

Well… I heard from my doctor on Wednesday and I am headed to Stanford tomorrow.  She’s calling it an exam under anesthesia.

What on earth does that even mean?

I’ll tell you what it means:

SURGERY!

  • There’s a home prep involved.
  • 2 hour early arrival
  • a weigh-in
  • Attempted removal of my wedding ring
  • An IV
  • An operating room
  • High probability she will cut something out
  • Pain in the recovery room
  • A queasy ride home with Ed speeding over highway 17
  • And soreness for DAYS!

How’s that for an optimistic outlook?

AND… let us not forget…

IT’S FRIDAY THE 13TH!

Yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself.  I cried when I hung up the phone and even accused Ed of not having enough sympathy for me.  I’m being a baby and I know it.

But… here is the Voskamp quote of the day that I am clinging to:

“Be a prayer warrior not a panicked worrier.” 

And that’s where you come in.

Would you pray for me?  Would you pray that this exploratory appointment goes smoothly and nothing scary shows up? If I cross your mind tomorrow, I’d love prayer for my emotional well-being too.

Psalm 112:7. “He (ok, SHE) will have no fear of bad news; his (HER) heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

I really do trust Him!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broken and in Need of Repair

My Bible was open to Psalm 139 on the kitchen table.  My good friend, Kelly, and I had decided to have our homeschool class memorize it for this month’s memory work.  Just before I stepped away, verse 1 caught my attention: “Oh Lord, you have searched me and you KNOW me.”

I have read this verse countless times, but this time it grabbed my heart.  God KNOWS me.   And I’m hard to get to know!  He knows all about me: my brokenness, my shame, my failures and even just my personality.

Verse 3 ends with, “You are familiar with ALL my ways.  Oh my!  My crazy, dysfunctional ways!  He’s aware of my wrong attitudes and ALL the ways I struggle.

Ann Voskamp in her book The Broken Way states, “Jesus is the most attracted to the busted and sees the broken as the most beautiful.”

Wow.  I must be absolutely irresistible to Him!  Hah!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.  Jesus is attracted to my weaknesses.  He is drawn to my broken places.

A while back Eddie and I got a phone call summoning us to the principal’s office at our son’s school.  We had no information other than it was serious and we needed to come asap.

Talk about a stomach dropping feeling!

We arrived to find Cory sitting with 2 administrators.  The atmosphere was very solemn and we braced ourselves for the impact of what had transpired.  Through his tears, Cory shared his heart.

I sat there fighting all the emotions of sadness, anger and shock.  Finally, Ed asked if we could speak with Cory alone.  As the administrators left the room, I wondered how Ed was going to let him have it.

Slowly… Eddie got up from his chair beside me, crossing the room to our son.  Cory was looking down, unable to look his father in the eye. Ed quietly knelt down beside his chair, placing his hand on Cory’s shoulder.

“Son. I love you so very much. Nothing you do will EVER change that. Your mom and I will walk beside you through this. NOTHING can change how much we love you.”

Cory was undone.  (And so was his mom!)

His brokenness and repentance drew us to him.  Because of his heart, the administrators were more than willing to work with him.  Because of his humility, we were ready to do whatever it took to restore him.

Ed literally acted out what Christ does in our lives.  Jesus comes alongside us in our hurts and offers his unconditional love.   He reaches out to our broken places offering hope and help, restoration and reconciliation.

Voskamp goes on to say, “What seems to be undoing you can ultimately remake you.  What if the deeper you know your own brokenness, the deeper you can experience your own belovedness.”

Cory gave me permission to share a piece of his story.  He is doing so well and our family has grown closer through the struggles.  Eddie and I are working to stay close to each of our kids; to mentor them and love them in and through their brokenness.

I wanna be more like Jesus!

Or at least a bit more like Ed!  Hah.  …Maybe that can be my new motto:  What Would Eddie Do?!  #WWED

The Unexpected

Expectations. That’s what it boiled down to for me. It wasn’t what I expected.

My doctor had set up a schedule of doing some type of follow-up every 3 months and this was the kick-off appointment. In my mind this was an easy, quick “scope thing” to take place in her office. I wasn’t worried about it at all.

I have to pause here and say… why does it seem I so often write those words? 

My good friend, Janet, decided to tag along as we rarely have large chunks of time to talk. The drive to Stanford was an easy, smooth one (hopefully Janet would agree… if anything, I drove too slowly for my speedy friend) and we were able to chat about everything. I think she was surprised at how chaotic the underground parking was and how long my little hike to the cancer center is.   Gotta love a bit of sympathy!

I was quickly checked in, leaving Janet to enjoy the music of an amazing guitarist in the waiting room.

First stop— the dreaded scale.

Thankfully, the weight registers in kilograms and as the nurse began to convert it to pounds, I assertively held up my hand and instructed him to NOT say another word. No reality check desired.

He led me down the usual corridor, BUT walked right past the usual room. I hesitated, but obediently followed him, wondering why we seemed to be off the anticipated script of this appointment. The nurse swung open a door officially labeled, “Procedure Room” and one peak inside set off an internal alarm that I, again, had under-estimated this appointment.

He took my vitals, and my blood pressure was much higher than normal. Anxiety was getting the best of me! He then asked if I had done the prep for the procedure.

My response, “Wait. WHAT?”

No one had mentioned anything about a prep.

Hmmmmm. A conundrum of sorts. He left to consult with the physician’s assistant with my parting words trailing after him, “Plead my case. I don’t want to do it!”

Within minutes the assistant arrived, armed with the prep. It wasn’t optional.

I will spare you the details of THAT ordeal— just know it was extremely awkward and SUPER NOT FUN!

My supposedly-less-than-invasive-procedure went okay until the end when my doctor stated she found something needing to be biopsied.

Seriously??!

She’s hoping it’s just scar tissue, but was unable to say for sure… thus, the biopsy.

It was over and I wanted to escape before I fell apart. At the front desk checking out, I was biting the inside of my cheek, trying to distract myself enough to not cry as the receptionist scheduled my next appointment.

Janet was chatting with the guitarist (as only my sweet, friendly, musical friend can do) and I made a bee-line out of there, signaling to her that I would meet her outside. As we stood in the sunshine, I tearfully gave her the play-by-play.

I stood there wondering why everything affects me so much. Why do I cry at every appointment? Why can’t I be tougher and have the much needed attitude of “let’s just get ‘er done?” It’s really not that big of a deal, yet my emotions are always so heightened.

I know I continually fight the thoughts of what a cancer diagnosis could mean. I have the history of watching my mom pass away at the young age of 46 along with my own 2 year battle through it. It’s a tender, scary piece of me that needs constant re-alignment, which brings me back to my opening word: Expectations.

Expectations are a set-up for failure and disappointment. For example, I have such HIGH expectations of Ed, probably because he can do SO many things SO well. I’m notorious for leaving long to-do lists of what I want to have accomplished. I need to offer LOVE without a to-do list.

The focus of my expectations in all areas of life has to be God.

I can expect God to walk with me through EVERYTHING.

-through pain

-through healing

-peaceful times

-fun times

-family issues

-hard days

AND….

I can expect His love. God loves me without a “to-do” list. The ONLY thing I need to do is accept His love

I have never felt more loved by God. It’s like I have a new understanding of how much He loves me.

I Peter 5:6-7 (narrated by Me) says:

Humble yourselves therefore (accept God’s love for you. Allow Him to love you and direct your life) under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you (lift you out of your situation or encourage you in it) in due time (in HIS timing). Casting all your care (worry, anxiety and… even EXPECTATIONS) upon him for he cares for (absolutely loves) YOU.

So…

You can expect God to keep reaching out to you in love. It’s who He is!

And…

You can expect me to continue being high strung and dramatic about every single doctor appointment. It’s who I am. Hah!

And… just for fun… THIS was my favorite recent text from a favorite friend of mine:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accidental Faith

Accidents happen in a split second- unannounced and definitely not welcomed, thus the term “accident.”  I was watching the clock wondering where Eddie was. It was the last football game of the season before playoffs and we needed to drop Olivia off at a friend’s house before heading to Gilroy to play the rival team of Christopher High. I had our team sweatshirts and personalized jerseys (Margo #52) packed, along with my Ugg boots and a thermos of coffee.

Ed tends to run a bit late which is probably why he drives so fast! Hah!

Finally, I heard his truck out in the driveway and then I heard a dirt bike heading down our road. THEN…the next sound I heard was a loud raucous and I thought, “Did Ed just crash?”

I quickly dismissed the idea and continued impatiently waiting for him to walk in the door and GET READY TO GO.

Well, he DID “walk” in rather slowly, limping along. He had several open wounds and his whole right side was BRUISED.

“I think my shoulder is busted,” Ed stated.

I knew EXACTLY what he was feeling: Several years ago I fell (belly-flopped and bounced would more accurately describe it) in front of the castle at Disneyland and almost ruined our whole vacation. (You can read about that here.)

It’s this terrible feeling of knowing you need medical attention, but not being willing to miss the exciting event about to take place.

Ed decided he could take some ibuprofen and just keep his shoulder as still as possible during the game and figure out medical help the next day. I had the SAME plan at Disneyland! (Part 2 of my falling story.)   Of course a year later I had to have shoulder surgery, but now is not the time to reminisce about all THAT!

He explained he had been on the dirt bike for less than a minute, taking it for a quick spin to see if the tire he had repaired was working fine. The accident made no sense! He wasn’t being reckless or speeding (shocking, I know). The bike simply came out from under him.

Ed is SUPER tough and basically NEVER complains. He was trying not to wince in pain as he got ready for the game and then again in the car whenever I turned a corner.

At the game, he insisted on carrying our chairs and backpack while I was loaded down with the blanket. Hah! Talk about the complete opposite of me. I tend to let everyone know I’m suffering (ahem… starting this blog) while Ed prefers to suffer in silence.

We made it through the game with an exciting victory for the Mustangs (although Ed’s cheering was a bit subdued) and we agreed that he would go to urgent care in the morning.

Separated shoulder. AC Joint separation to be exact.

Not the best diagnosis for a building contractor.

He came home in a sling with directions to rest the shoulder for 2-4 weeks.

We had one of those why-does-it-seem-everything-keeps-going-wrong moments. We are both so ready to never repeat the fall of 2016. It has been a season of sadness, surgery, stress and brokenness. Many of our recent struggles I haven’t been able to share, but life has been HARD.

BUT… here’s the thing. My faith is not based on my circumstances. The foundation of my faith is Jesus. It’s not an event, an experience or even an answered prayer— it’s in the person of Jesus (Andy Stanley Who is the Author of Your Faith).

These hard things don’t define who I am in Christ. I WANT my prayers answered for SURE… but even more than that… I want Jesus.

He is walking with my family and me in extraordinary ways.

He offers grace and mercy for the journey and that is more than enough.

He is with me. He loves me. And… (I realize this next phrase appears in pretty much every post, but it is my bottom line)…

I TRUST HIM.

Ed’s shoulder is slowly healing. He has not taken any time off work and has many pain-filled days, yet never complains. (The doctor stated that he won’t damage it any more by working; it will just take a lot longer to heal).

My family is slowly healing in so many ways. We have many pain-filled days and we are striving to not complain.

And although accidents are unplanned and can happen in a split second, there’s nothing accidental about our faith that sustains us as we keep our eyes on the One who loves us so very much.

Hebrews 12:2-3  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary

I was having a very melancholy moment realizing I would not be able to write my annual cancer free anniversary post. Today would have been 7 years.

I had been doing so well!

Having reached the desired benchmark of 5 years with no setbacks, I really thought cancer was behind me forever.

When I recently started blogging again, I purposed to write from a place of brokenness; to tell my journey with raw emotion, being authentic about the struggle. I felt this was what God was speaking to me-to show the inner wrestling to hold on to hope and grow in my faith- not falling back into fear.

About a week ago a friend gave me Ann Voskamp’s new book The Broken Way. I was fighting tears as she handed it to me, knowing it has the potential to be life-changing. Her first book, One Thousand Gifts, was one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read and one I gave to this same friend several years ago.

I brought the new book with me today to read during Olivia’s chiropractor appointment. Olivia is my 10 year old who periodically sees a non-force chiropractor to help relieve pain because she has “loose ligaments” and is hyper-flexible. As the chiropractor was working her magic, I was inches away trying to read a few pages. Problem was… I couldn’t see the words through the tears!

THIS BOOK!!!!

I’ve only read nine pages and it’s almost too much!! … in a most amazing way!

In her first book, Voskamp hints about her struggles, saying enough of the story to make a point.

IN THIS BOOK she is putting it all out there, masterfully weaving her raw story with the faithfulness of God.

Some of my favorite quotes (from the first 9 pages!):

  • “Who doesn’t know what it’s like to smile thinly and say you’re fine when you’re not, when you’re almost faint with pain? There isn’t one of us not bearing the wounds from our own bloody battles.”
  • “What do you do when it feels like everything’s changed? It’s a strange thing to find out your heart can explode with love and suffering and find out they’re kin in ways we don’t care to admit.”
  • “Great grief isn’t made to fit inside your body. It’s why your heart breaks.”
  • “Jesus is always on the side of the suffering, the wounded, the busted, the broken.”
  • “Brokenness happens in a soul so the power of God can happen in a soul.”
  • “Is there a grace that can bury the fear that your faith isn’t big enough and your faults are too many?”

God is doing a work in me that is almost unexplainable at this point. I see it, I sense it, but I don’t know exactly where it’s taking me. I do know that I want to be different- changed in a way that rocks my world.

I want to know God, to walk with Jesus and hear the Holy Spirit directing my life. I refuse to stay the same.

No more counting cancer-free anniversaries.

Today is day one of the rest of my life (cue music to Matthew West’s song).

Cancer does not define me.

Jesus does.

I’m no longer a slave to fear. I AM A CHILD OF GOD.

Happy anniversary to ME!

Oh, AND…

BUY THE BOOK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buddy System

So… where was I? Mascara on, Ed drove crazy and wedding ring wouldn’t slide off. Perfect prerequisites for a successful surgery! Hah!

The anesthesiologist came in to meet me and start the IV. He was a young, college grad from the east coast and had the BEST bedside manners.   Right as he was about to poke me, another anesthesiologist arrived and introduced himself. He was training the young guy and I don’t know what their working relationship is like, but… Young Guy began shaking like crazy. I thought I must have been imagining it until I glanced at Ed who was looking at me with big eyes and gritted teeth. THEN, ANOTHER anesthesiologist who looked like a mini-body builder walked in and the shaking increased. Luckily, Young Guy had numbed my hand before Trainer and Body Builder made their entrances and I was unable to feel much of the shaky needle rooting around. Whew!

And… that was just the beginning of this crazy buddy system.

Minutes later I was wheeled into the operating room and EVERYONE had a buddy or two. There were at LEAST 10 doctor people in the OR for my not-so-major surgery.

The surgery only took 45 minutes and probably would have been shorter if the room had been less crowded. I mean, I have no idea because I was sleeping, but it’s a thought!

The minute I started to wake up in recovery, I began moaning and crying out in pain. I kept thinking, “This should not be hurting this much.”

It took 2 hours to get the pain under control.

My nurse was amazing and determined to find the right drug combinations to get me through this. Ed was allowed to come back, and between the two of them I was in good hands. I found it interesting that my nurse was taking care of several people on her own without an appointed buddy!

I was finally able to sit-up without being overly nauseas. Ed went to get the car and a wheelchair arrived for me. The guy pushing my wheelchair drove like Eddie— fast and confident. He whirled around the hallway corners and I thought I was going to lose it.

By the time I was loaded up in our minivan, I felt so sick again.

I reminded Ed I was super-queasy and asked if we could REALLY take it slow getting home. He, of course, agreed and then gunned it as he pulled out in front of a car and raced through a yellow light all while still on Stanford’s campus. True story. That guy!

I was happy to get home and rest. My good buddy, Wendy, brought dinner over for my family— quinoa chili—and I was so grateful.

There are so many fun applications I could make from this story, but one thought is resonating with me right now. A life long prayer of mine has been asking Jesus to get the junk out of my heart. I’m so tired of my wrong attitudes and insecurities and ANYTHING that keeps me from living a life of freedom.

I want more of Christ and less of me.

I want my broken places healed and I want to be different because of Jesus living in me.

It is very much like surgery. The recovery can be long and painful as we allow Jesus to heal our hurts. It is a process of surrender and obedience.

I am once again asking Jesus to take the next layer of junk out of my life. I can hardly stand what I am seeing in myself. He is faithful and I trust Him and it helps to have a spiritual buddy like the Holy Spirit!

And… just to wrap up those surgery prerequisites…

Mascara was smeared all over my face from all the crying in recovery…

My wedding ring stayed on, covered up with all kinds of tape…

And even though Eddie is a crazy driver, he is my best friend and buddy for life.

That guy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the Scene

Surgery was scheduled for 7:00 a.m., which doesn’t sound horrible until you factor in a 5:00 a.m. arrival time and a 90 minute commute. It was a night of no sleep and we were out the door by 3:30 — after I took a shower and applied mascara! I’m not sure why I wanted to wear mascara, but at the time, it seemed like a priority.

My friend, Brook, came up with the brilliant idea of starting 12 games of Words With Friends to distract me from Ed’s scary driving over Highway 17. I think Eddie would say he’s a confident driver who has the road memorized from years of commuting, but I literally can hardly take it and it’s best if I escape with an app on my phone.

We arrived in record time (no traffic plus Ed’s driving) and began our hike to the cancer center in complete darkness.   Kind of strange they don’t light up the trek. I would swear it is a 2 mile walk, but it comes up 0.4 miles on map-quest… BUT… that doesn’t include getting to ground level out of the parking garage… so… 2 miles!

SO many people were checking in for surgery. We were all politely trying to race one another to the front desk. Sensitive but determined. Hah!

Ed wasn’t allowed to come back with me for the initial prep, which is totally great because he definitely doesn’t need to be there for the weigh-in! I couldn’t believe how many beds were lined up down the narrow room— probably 25 on each side, separated by only a thin drape which meant that while Ed wasn’t hearing how much I weigh, everyone else was.

The nurse began obsessing on my wedding ring because I could not take it off (ties in with the not-wanting-Ed-to-know-my-weight comment). She also was fascinated by my diagnosis of Lynch Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that greatly increases the chance of developing colon cancer.

I just now googled Lynch Syndrome to get the exact definition and I can’t believe what a textbook case I am. It says that people with Lynch may have:

  • Colon cancer before age 45 (I was 44)
  • A family history of colon cancer (for SURE)
  • A family history of endometrial (uterine) cancer (check and CHECK: it’s in my family AND I had it)

AND…..

  • A 40 percent chance of developing a second primary colon cancer within 7 years of the first.

IT’S BEEN EXACTLY 7 YEARS!

I am in shock.

AND…

I should have stopped reading there!

It goes on to list the other cancers people with Lynch Syndrome get.

Pause for a freak-out moment.

I’ve heard all of this before— had genetic counseling— and then life went on. But, realizing I’m a classic case following the script to a tee is quite disconcerting.

(My freak-out moment is interrupting my originally scheduled post!)

What does knowing all this really change?

What do I choose to set as the backdrop of my life?

(These next few sentences are greatly influenced by my cousin Ron and also Ann Voskamp.)

Picture seeing a play in a theater. The theater itself is just a room. Possibly cold, dark and ugly, BUT… the backdrop dictates what you are seeing.

I am choosing to view my life through the backdrop of:

God is always good and I am always loved.

Everything in my life is set against those premises. And… the backdrop always remains unchanged. It’s an outlook of gratitude knowing Jesus is walking with me.

Well, I’m completely off my original script of writing about the surgery.

So… more to come about that day, Ed’s driving, and my need to lose weight! Hah! Way too dramatic over here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.