Saturday, September 27, 2014

a few answers

so many of you have experience with cancer... i'm so sorry.  i'm sad that you know what questions to ask.  i'm sad that you're familiar with the tests.  i'm sad that you know the pros and cons of different treatments.  these are ideas and words that aren't meant to be in our lives.  cancer is part of our broken world.  God is present in every part of it- He is present with us. but we are not made for this.  i'm sorry.

because you know what to ask, i feel strange about not being more forthcoming with my medical information.  it's not about being shy or needing privacy- i've had babies, mammograms, biopsies, and pap smears with entire medical school classes observing (exaggeration is my therapy). i'm not shy about sharing what's going on, but i'm not sure it's always helpful?

you see, when i hear you asking for more information, i hear this:
"i love you, and i'm worried about you."

"i'm afraid for you and your family."

"i want to do something because i care about you so much."

thank you for asking- i know you love us.

i'm not sure more details would really help.  somehow each new piece of information also adds five new questions.  one biopsy tells us that cancer is present, but not size, stage, or how far it has spread.  one scan tells us the approximate size, but also gives false results based on hormone levels.  another scan gives me a license to be radioactive- literally, a card stating that it's okay that i'm setting off radiation alarms.  (matt called it 'the hulk scan.'  i am not green or huge, but i'm hopeful...) 

even now, i'm waiting for 3 more tests before beginning treatment.  6 weeks into this we still don't know as much as we would like.

so how about this for basic answers:  
we do know that there is cancer present in the right breast. 
we do know that it's triple positive, which has good and bad points.
we do know that i will be receiving chemotherapy beginning as soon as possible.
we do know that i will have surgery after chemo is done.

and many of you now have 10 more questions because you know so much about cancer.  i'm so sorry that you know what to ask, and i'm sorry that i'm not giving you solid answers. 
but i'm not sorry, really- thank you for loving us with your questions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

grace for deeper waters

there's only a slight difference in how it feels, facing your own cancer compared to cancer in someone you love as part of yourself.  it's like looking down at your body (you know it's your body- you're inside it) versus looking at your reflection (is that what i look like to others?  how odd).  

the difference is in the perspective.  

i've been here before as a wife.  in 2009, matt had a lump. then an appointment. then a wait. then another appointment.  then a surgery, a few tests. another wait.

then cancer.  and all that goes with cancer. 

i've said before, and i should go on record with it:  i am so glad our cancer chapter was so short.  it was not easy- matt, i promise that i know it wasn't easy for you.  i was there, and it was... is there really an appropriate description?  
i know short does not mean happy, but it also means he is alive and cancer free.  not in remission- no cancer at all. 5 years.  i know this is good, and i am aware and grateful.  too many friends are still being treated, still losing their loved ones, still in pain.  i know.

and now here we are again.  i have breast cancer.  first lumps. appointments. then tests. waiting.  more tests to come.  words like 'concerning.' 'suspicious.' 'how soon can you get in for this biopsy?' 

'i'm sorry to tell you this over the phone.'

i don't know if it's worse now than it was before?  with the knowing.  the familiarity.  is it harder to have been here or to be completely unaware?  
i could argue both sides. 

it wasn't my body in 2009, but it was my heart.  my only one.  their only father.
i didn't get sick, but i was suffering.  they were, too.
and now it is my body, and it's all the same feelings.  i'm their only mother.  i'm his only one- his heart. 

and we will be okay- that's our plan.  (and as far as we know, it is a good plan).
we don't want to do this. not again. yet God meets us here just as He meets us every day and every place. His grace carries us even in this.

this is new information for some of you, and i am sorry you are reading it here instead of sitting with us in the mountains by a crackling fire, watching the sunset, sipping excellent red wine.  would that we could discuss all hard things in such a place!  we are thankful to love and be loved by so many, and yet that makes it impossible to have personal conversations with each of you.  if we do not respond to your text, your email, your call... if we are not ready to meet you for prayer and coffee... will you give us grace?  you are loved by us, and we are grateful for you, and we are limited by our sadness and our need to rest.

Monday, September 1, 2014


As 'back to school' happens and life is moving on, I'm feeling in between.  Here and there. New England and Midwest. This day, September 1,  marks the beginning of a new season (figuratively). Nine months in our new home- with our new friends- our new normal.  
I wrote this about a year ago as a part of my going away process... it still brings old faces to mind, and happily, also a group of new faces. I am confident in how He is pouring out a new story- a good story for all of us, even in the letting go.

Pour.  It’s the first word in my mind when I consider our friendship.
Pour out.  Pour over.  Pour into.
And we do pour a considerable amount, don’t we?  
We pour water, coffee, tea, wine, sangria, champagne, cocktails, and 
more sangria, please.

After we pour our drinks, we pour out ourselves.
We pour ideas, recipes, stories, and advice.
We pour our laughter, love, prayers, tears (these are pouring now- the others at the cafe beginning to get uncomfortable).  
We pour anxiety, fear, concern, grace, and forgiveness.  We pour life into each other.

We pour out gifts... the brilliant and undeserved treasure put in us by the Lord.  
We do have a variety of gifts, have you seen?
You pour Welcome and Hospitality, the warm, priceless offering of a place to rest and connect.
You pour gracious, painful Honesty and the beautiful ability to enter into conflict to make us face our true selves and force our friendships into stronger places.
You pour out sweet Vulnerability, challenge us all to look at our fears and own them before Our God who says, ‘do not worry!’ 
You pour Creativity, and as we marvel at your artistry we all feel God’s presence more intensely.
You pour out Wisdom, Experience, light-filled Guidance for us to follow into the Unknown and New.
You pour Encouragement, the celebratory support from friends who know, understand, and believe wholeheartedly that we can do it... whatever the task.
You pour out precious Faith.  Trust that God always does what He says He will do.
You pour quiet Attentiveness, your listening ears and deep heart abiding with all that we pour back.
You pour bold words of Hope.  Powerful testimony of what is to come... future Grace.

You’ve poured all that God has put inside you, and  I feel God’s Grace and Presence in your faces and hands.  I’m filled to the brim, ready to overflow to a new family, a new circle of smiling faces. Still, I can’t imagine life without a cup in my hands and your beautiful faces before me- pouring liquid favor and life-giving love into each other.  I can’t imagine daily life without you.

Will you still be my people?  Can we still pour life into each other?  Pour out ourselves, pour blessing over each other?  I know I need you on the other side of my cup.  As I pour coffee (in my hobnail mug, of course),  I promise to pray for you in deep, joyful, extravagant ways.  
Because you need this.

Pour a cup, pour out your prayers, and allow God to pour into each of us in divine mystery... and know that the cry of your heart matters immensely to me and to the Lord.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him.  
God is a refuge for us.”  
~Psalm 62:8

With More Love Than You Could Hold In A Thousand Hobnail Cups,