Saturday, November 22, 2014

to Riverside Church as you move into your new home...

dear Riverside Church friends... there are a thousand things i want to give to you, our first church family, as you celebrate your first Sunday in your new building!  

a thousand thanks for welcoming me as a newly married, mostly terrified, incredibly self-centered young pastor's wife... for raising me to be a wife & mother, a friend & neighbor- one that can occasionally see past myself to  reach out to those around me.   you welcome and cherish each other so well.

a thousand i'm sorrys for the many times i was petty and selfish... you forgave me for so often letting my immaturity cloud my judgment.  another round of thank you's for giving gracious counsel, careful criticism, and then pouring forgiveness on me.  
you stand with each others' limitations so well.

a thousand tears wept together (at least that many)... i'm surprised Hixson didn't have to replace that hallway carpet from the mornings we spent grieving loss and hurt on each others' shoulders.  we lost children, parents, siblings, grandparents... we cried over damaged friendships, painful and scary illness, broken marriages.  we cried when we were sad, and we cried together.  
you mourn with each other so well.

another thousand tears of laughter and embarrassing snorts of happiness that burst out when you're among the best sorts of friends. chili suppers (such as you will enjoy tomorrow- how i wish i could be there!), sweltering july picnics, late nights at the women's retreats, and seeing Zack dance on stage (the earthy dance? was that it? it has been several years, but i still smile when i think of it!)... these are moments i remember laughing long and hard with you.  
you enjoy life together so well!

a thousand moments of celebration with you... your weddings, your graduations, your good news from the doctors, your children's births.  the smiles, the toasts, the shared joys are among my most precious memories.  
you celebrate each other so well.

a thousand layers of grace from the Lord.  as He built up our faith and tore down our idols and pulled away our hardness and gave us new eyes and new hearts, we grew together and we are no longer who we once were.  we are changed by His love, His freedom, His gentle call to turn to Him.  
you follow Jesus together so well. 

it is such an honor to have entered into these sacred moments with you. i can't find the words to tell you how i treasure my memories of 10 years with you.  and to see you now?  working together to purchase and restore a beautiful new home- the place you will welcome new families, accept them into your hearts, raise them up, mourn with them, laugh with them, celebrate with them, grow in grace with them? i am filled with gratitude for you and all the Lord has done!  

as you enjoy your first Sunday without a set up/tear down crew (AAAAAHHH!), your first day singing and celebrating the risen Christ in the new sanctuary, your first morning of praying and hearing Scripture corporately in your new home, know that you have been lifted up from a thousand miles away.  

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace...  Philippians 1:6-7

Sunday, November 9, 2014

rinse & repeat

chemo is even less fun than you've imagined... unless you've had it or are having it now, then you know exactly.  no need for details- i'm just sick for about a week and then i slowly feel better & have more energy until i go back for another round every 21 days.  hopefully just rinse & repeat 6 times.

one interesting revelation in all of this is that i'm not a medicine person.  around age 5, i broke into an upper cabinet & ate a bunch of baby aspirin... that's the last time i remember wanting to take a lot of pills.  (those tasted like cherry- who can blame a kid?!)  i'm usually more of a 'wait & see' person.  if i have a headache, i drink a glass of water or go outside for a short walk.   upset stomach?  drink some bone broth and take a closer look at my diet from recent days.  skin red & itchy?  removing grains and dairy from my food cleared that right up.  there's a pill for every ailment, but they seem to adversely affect me in one way or another- i didn't realize how much i disliked medications until now!  

but then there's chemo... when you pour toxic chemicals into your veins, you get immediate side effects.  chemically-induced illnesses don't go away with whole foods and a glass of water. you can't always 'wait & see'- ongoing digestive distress (ahem) dehydrates & weakens your body, which is already reeling.  so basically, i'm a ping-pong ball.  i fly between hot flashes & fever chills, exhaustion & restlessness, hungry & nauseous.  i'll spare you the other extremes.  but there's a pill for that, and i have no choice but to take it.  

so i'm not feeling great, but there are a few things that are helping.  maybe they will help you to care for someone (or maybe yourself) in the same boat?  

1. meals for my family. our community drops meals at our house several days a week. i'm not able to eat them the week after chemo (though they smell delicious!), but it's a precious and selfless gift to prepare food for my people.  i'm so thankful.

2. bottled water. i'm usually a tap water person, but i can taste all the metals in our well water right now, and bottle water is delightfully bland.  the more i drink, the better i feel- hydration always matters, and right now i'm keenly aware.

3. bone broth. when i can drink 1-2 cups of warm bone broth (beef, chicken, pork- any healthy animal bones + veggies), i have more energy & less stomach upset.  it's a highly nutrient dense drink, and it doesn't take much to see the benefit.

4. walking outdoors. being in Connecticut, my days of outdoor walks are approaching an end.  shifting to snow shoes may be the thing, though, because movement fights chemical induced fatigue better than sleep!  i'm not terribly aerobic these days, but 30 minutes of slow walking helps a lot.  

5.  friends who give ENORMOUS grace.  this bears repeating:  you are loving us well, friends.  i know you wish you could DO something, and i understand that impulse.  i like to 'do,' too!  it's so much easier than praying, hoping, and waiting.  i get it.  but there isn't always something to do, is there?  some days we get 5 offers for groceries, walks, and babysitting- we take great comfort in both your offers of love and your ability to hear 'no thank you.'  it doesn't seem like much, but when you accept 'no,' you are not requiring more of us than we have to give today.  that is just as much a gift to us as your time & service.

hear this, please:  when you quietly leave a meal outside our door, when you send a text that i can't respond to for days, when you just wish you could do something to help - we know you love us, and that is everything.