Under Construction

I sat across the table from my beautiful daughter Jessica, trying to speak past the lump in my throat. The restaurant in Southern California was noisy and crowded, but I was determined to get the words out. So much had happened in the past year and this moment was the culmination of all of it; the loss and betrayal AND the healing, hope and renewal.

It was nothing short of a miracle.

“Dad and I want to give you this,” I choked out and gave her the cash gift we had planned to give her last summer when she graduated from college. All of our lives had taken an unexpected detour and we were GRATEFUL to be back on course, following God’s plans for our future.

Three weeks earlier, I was at my usual Monday night Bible study and the teacher was summing up her story of God taking her through a year of extreme pain to work out some profound things in her life. As she spoke, I felt the sweet nudge of the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Your year is up.” I was so distracted by the thought, I HAD to check the date on my phone. Sure enough, exactly one year ago was my first appointment with my new Stanford cancer doctor… which kicked off a year of surgeries, appointments, and MANY personal struggles for my family.

I was very teary-eyed driving home that night.  It was an awareness of God’s presence speaking a personal message to me. “Your year is up,” kept replaying in my mind. It had been a year of unraveling for me on ALL levels—physical, personal, spiritual, financial, emotional… ALL levels… and God had taken me to a new, deeper intimacy in my walk of faith.

As I arrived home, Jessica had some news. She has been trying to move to Southern California for a year to pursue her career goals, and nothing has worked out for her. In fact, her year took a terrible turn and everything in her life was put on hold. This same “Your year is up” evening, she received a random text from a friend she had danced with on her competitive dance team in high school, asking her if she was looking for a place to live down south. Within days Jessica had an apartment, a room-mate, a car and a job!

“Your year is up!”

I don’t know exactly what it means, but something has definitely lifted, opened up for us.

We have just recently had a major crossroad by our home close for six weeks of repairs. A collapsed bridge would be ripped out, and a new, firm foundation laid. The much-needed roadwork would also bring a SUPER inconvenient rerouting of traffic, adding an extra 10 minutes to my commute down narrow, country roads. The detour would not be fun— inconvenient and long— BUT… very necessary.

Roadwork. Detours. Delays. …a great analogy for life.

It has been a year of construction, an undoing, and God has been faithful to repair the brokenness, rebuilding a solid foundation of security in Him.

As we left the restaurant, Jessica was all moved in and Eddie and I were preparing to drive home. We hugged her goodbye and there was such a sense of peace knowing God had made a way and the waiting was over. The detour had not been fun, but there was a new strength in all of us, especially Jessica, to journey wherever God would lead, trusting Him each mile of this new road.

And speaking of new roads….

The roadwork near our home was completed this week and we are able to drive on it. No more long, miserable detours waiting for the work to be done.

Take down the ‘road work ahead’ and ‘road closed’ signs!

The road is open and…

My year is up!

(Now if someone can just make sure Cory receives the ‘year is up‘ memo, we’ll be good! Hah!)

2 Corinthians 1:9-10  “…But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life. God saved us from the threat of death, and we are sure that he will do it again and again.”

 

My Summer Surprise

Olivia began shuffling her feet, rounding her shoulders and looking down as we approached the classroom. My happy-go-lucky-can-make-friends-anywhere girl was not up for the challenge.  She has been struggling with a recent transition in her life where she has to courageously participate in a program of 6th-8th graders, knowing hardly anyone. And… the two or three kids she does know, may or may not be there on any given session.

Totally intimidating!

I said a quick prayer over her and stated, “Olivia, what if you don’t worry about your discomfort, but rather look for somebody else who needs a friend, and help them feel welcomed? What if God has you here for that very reason? What if God answers my prayer for you to have a friend in this class, by you being a friend to someone who looks lonely?”

Reluctantly, she left my side, giving me one last pleading look with those beautiful brown eyes. I quickly walked away, but not without first noticing how ginormous those 8th graders were!

It’s interesting how much I fight lately with trusting God to prove himself faithful to my kids. So much so, I think I delay the process in their lives because I interfere and/or intervene when God is training THEM to rely on him.

Several times this past week I would be chatting with one of my kids, saying how much they can trust God, and… simultaneously… thinking how unconvincing I sound. In other words, I’m saying all the right things, speaking words of faith while silently begging God to come through for them.

But that’s just it. I have to release my grip, my control, on what I think God SHOULD do for them. His “coming through” will most likely look different from what I want… and even what they want.

So…it’s AGAIN back to the issue of trust.

Can I trust God with my kids?

Or rather…DO I trust God with them.

Do I trust He will watch over Jessica, Cory and Olivia in hard times? Painful times?

Can I stay out of the way and let a personal relationship unfold between THEM?

I don’t want Jessica, Cory and Olivia to have years of struggle like I did, BUT I do want them to have a real, intimate connection with him. I’m their covering in so much of life, but they have to grow in their own relationship with Christ.

An hour later, Olivia was walking toward me. I scanned her face, looking for the first clue of how things went.

She was smiling.

“Mom, we talked about how God wants us to have confidence in him. I think the talk was for me.”

Priceless.

As we reached our car, Olivia turned and waved goodbye to a new friend. “That’s a girl I just met. She’s really nice and a bit shy.”

2 Timothy 1:12  “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day,”

Entrusted. What a great word. It means to put into the care and protection of someone. I am entrusting my kids to God, in whom I’m believing… AND working on being convinced that he is ABLE to take care of what I’ve entrusted to him.

Olivia turned 11 last week. She is a gift, my little summer surprise, a child we specifically prayed for by name for years. (What can I say… I’m a HUGE Olivia Newton John fan!!)

It is one of my greatest joys to be her mom, and now one of my greatest joys to watch her grow in her faith in God.

Not only am I entrusting her to God, God has literally entrusted Olivia to us— put her in our care and protection. (You can read a bit more of her story HERE.)

I hope your summer has been full of God-given surprises! Just remember this… from a hopelessly devoted Olivia Newton John fan………….

He honestly loves you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Hillbilly

Do you remember the show The Beverly Hillbillies? THAT’s my dad’s family minus the Beverly Hills part! (He is pictured in the back row, 4th from the left)

He was raised in Arkansas during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. They were sharecroppers, meaning they worked HARD and had very little to show for it.

My dad was born 91 years ago today.  Isn’t that incredible?! He and his twin sister, Evanell, (3rd from the left)were the youngest of six children born to James and Nellie Polk. Wow… I never noticed until writing this down that Evanell was named after my Grandma Nellie. AND… my dad was named JL which means the twins had rhyming names; JL and Evanell. Hah! NEVER thought of that before! JL was his full name, not a nickname or abbreviation. In fact, his best friend was GW! (Pronounced Gee Double Ya!!) I’m using the past tense because my dad changed his name when the family moved to California. NO ONE out here had initials for names so he legally became Jack Lee.

His two older brothers, Roy and Charlie, moved west first, sending money home and encouraging them to come to California where there was a lot more opportunity to earn a living. So… they loaded up the truck and they moved to…not Beverly!  My dad tells stories of leaving their tiny two room house where anywhere from 8-11 people were living at any given time, and driving west, camping on the side of the road each night. Some real Grapes of Wrath type stuff!

My dad has faced a lot of loss in his life-time. All of his brothers and sisters have passed away, with the three girls dying at very young ages. Velma was probably early 20’s and died during childbirth.  Opal and Evanell both lost their lives to cancer in their 40’s.  So tragic! And… my mom died of cancer at age 46 after 28 years of marriage.

He has also lost some body parts along the way due to cancer (you can read about it here, here, and here) but that has taken a while to slow him down. He really could be the poster child for how to go through cancer well!

Seriously!

My dad has done SO many things well: lived well, loved well, and frankly, aged well. He is a man full of faith and lots of fun. Just last week he was telling Jessica a few stories from his teen years when she asked him if he was a ‘lady’s man’ back in the day. He quickly replied, ‘No, no. That’s why I didn’t get married til I was 31.”

He loved my mom through her many life struggles of dealing with her past, including bouts of depression and low self-esteem. He nurtured her, helping her in any way he could. I KNOW it’s because of his example that I married Eddie. My dad set the bar high for how a man should love his family and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything less.

There are so many stories I could tell you… from crazy Ozark days setting a field on fire, to having company over every Sunday night after church to play Rook or how he won the heart of his current wife, Sue. (Hmm…Not a lady’s man?!) But… I just want you to know…

…my dad has loved ME well. He invested in my life, giving me the best of his time and providing for all my needs. He has lived his faith out and represented Jesus so well!

While my dad may have never attained a Beverly Hills lifestyle, my favorite hillbilly has had wealth beyond measure. From the family he grew up in, to the family I was raised in, Jed Clampett’s got nothin’ on JL.

Happy 91st birthday Dad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The (Not-So) Glory Days of High School

Last weekend, for me, was JAM-PACKED. I have to insert “for me” because I have become such a wimp with how much I can handle these days. I am battling a constant feeling of being overwhelmed and having NO energy.  There are reasons for this — many of which are out of my control — BUT… many are very much dependent on choices I make in three specific areas: diet, exercise, and rest. (Included in the “rest” category would be Bible study, prayer, sleep and good ‘ole down time.)

I blew it in all three areas leading up to the weekend!

Because of my poor choices, I was not able to navigate the highs and lows of what was coming my way… and… CRASHED.

Friday night began with a high school reunion of sorts. A close friend from back-in-the-day persuaded me to meet her. We both decided it would be a great opportunity to visit even if the alumni program ended up being a flop.

ONE other guy from our class showed up. I have absolutely no connection to him— basically steered clear of him in high school because he was a wild mess! Fast forward 35 years (shocking… I KNOW!) and he’s completely turned his life around.

The three of us ended up talking in the parking lot two extra hours and had the BEST time reminiscing and catching up.

So surprising!

Keeping with the reunion theme… I was able to see my life-long friend, Carma, the next day. She moved away several years ago and I miss her like crazy! She makes me laugh like no other! Such a fun day visiting and, of course, LAUGHING.

While I was re-living my high school glory days, Cory was reminding me of how GLAD I am to NOT be in high school anymore! He made a few decisions that sent me reeling and wondering what he was up to.

THAT was where I lost the battle in my mind and allowed fear to grip me.

By the time Sunday came around and we were headed to church, I was a disaster—physically and emotionally exhausted. Absolutely defeated.

Well…

God is loving, full of grace and extremely kind to me. Guess what song the worship team was singing as I walked in.

MY song! (As so many of you now call it.)

I’m no longer a slave to fear!

The first line says…

“You unravel me…”

That instantly had my attention. What does it mean to be unraveled by God? I definitely had come unraveled in life circumstances, but God was willing to disentangle me from my out-of-whack emotions. To unravel literally means to set free.

I stood there next to Cory and could not stop crying. I had clearly put back on the shackles of fear, making myself a slave to it, and God was offering a release.

I, again, purposed to walk by faith, keeping my eyes on Jesus.

And… just for the record… Cory hadn’t done any of the things I was imagining. Fear had taken me down a destructive path of vain imaginations. The more we talked, the more I realized he was making tough choices for all the right reasons.

So…

My encouragement to you is:

1. eat good, healthy food

2. exercise often… and…

3. REST!

Rest in knowing you are a child of God. Let him unravel you.

And…

BE THANKFUL YOU ARE DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slip Sliding Away

Psalm 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall…”

Well…

The earth is giving way and the mountain is beginning to fall on our property.

We live at the end of a mile long dirt road which circles around a canyon that is about 70 feet deep and 70 feet wide. With all the rain hammering the central coast this past month, we had 30 feet drop off the last part of our road which is now inches from collapsing.

  Each day as I’m driving out from my house, I come over the hill before the slide, holding my breath and praying the road will still be there.  The first thing I look for are the orange cones. If they’re still perched on the edge, I know the road has held for one more day. It’s absolutely terrifying!

I say that because we have lived through a mudslide in the not so distant past. It was December 23, 2005.  Ed kissed me goodbye and routinely left for work. Within minutes he was calling, explaining the disaster sitting in front of him. Four acres of our neighbor’s property had slid onto our road covering 500 feet of it with debris piled 20 feet high.

There was a secondary access road to our house that was not quite drivable, however, Eddie was able to get his heavy-duty, four-wheel drive truck over it, allowing us to have a vehicle parked on the other side.

Ed then figured out a way for us to hike in and out of our property, reaching his truck.  You read that correctly… we were hiking to our house with only one vehicle parked on the other side of the slide. This was a steep, quarter mile hike, which included crossing a narrow creek on a twelve inch, wobbly plank that Eddie rigged up.

After a couple of weeks we were able to bring in some rock to the most treacherous part of the secondary access road. Even with this bit of improvement, only a four-wheel drive vehicle could get through.

It was a steep hill followed by a perilous, narrow, windy road down a mountainside. I would drive my suburban up to the steep part, put it in four-wheel drive, say a quick prayer and GUN IT! After some spinning out and more prayer, I could make it to the top followed by a slow descent down the scary switchbacks.

We did this for TEN MONTHS!

Within weeks the cause of the slide was easily determined. Four of our neighbors had an old, wooden holding tank for water. Unbeknownst to us, it had not worked right for years—leaking gallons of water each day! After saturating the hillside for so long, it finally gave way.

Those 10 months were long and hard AND… we made it through them seeing God’s faithfulness every step of the way. He brought us the incredible surprise blessing of Olivia smack dab in the middle of it all. Her story is crazy-amazing and I need to share it sometime soon.

I’m sitting here reminding myself that God is always with me and He loves to bring joy out of the chaos of life.

I have these verses underlined in my Bible, dated May 5, 2006, with the phrase “mudslide” written next to them:

Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

I have a feeling these verses are about to become a reality to me once again as the cones have now slipped off the road… just minutes ago.

I’m not sure how God can out-do the blessing of Olivia during our last slide, but I’m waiting patiently to see how he will put a new song in my mouth this time.

He is always faithful!!

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!