There’s a framed saying that sits on a shelf in my office. Several years ago my mom got me and my Ganny (maternal grandmother) copies of this picture. It says:
Give freely and
Those are each challenging in various ways but often the whole “Be Kind” can be difficult for us. It’s so hard in our world to give freely and be kind without feeling like you’re being taken advantage of. And maybe sometimes you do get taken advantage of or get burned. It happens. Both bad moods and good moods are contagious. Be kind. I think there’s a challenge there especially for some of us that are tired, impatient and prideful. Be kind. Hmmmm……
I don’t really know how to begin this blog. It’s been a long weekend. While I was at the doctor on Wednesday we realized I have a sinus infection and Mike and I have been battling those all weekend so I know that has something to do with it. It’s been exhausting and for some reason on Friday everything just kind of hit me, that 4 weeks from that day I randomly had a seizure and they then the next morning found this brain tumor and two weeks from that day I had that brain tumor mostly removed and on Wednesday I found out it was a type 2, not a type 1 or a 3 or 4 and I will wait for 3 months and will get another MRI and will get to wait I’m sure several days after that to see what the deal is.
I’ve been asked about getting second opinions and so many of my much beloved Emory people have offered medical expertise and I am full of gratitude for that. I think it was Friday though when it hit me that all this really has happened and this is not a bad dream and this is my new reality. I kind of hate the phrase at this point “new normal.” A large part of me wants to scream the heck with the “new normal.” I don’t want to find it. I don’t want to have to find it. I don’t want any of this happening period.
I know that there are very many people that have this worse off than I do. It could have been a type 3 or 4 malignant. I’m not even going to name all of the worse things that could be happening right now, and I know that and feel the pain of that. But I also have to acknowledge that for me this sucks. For a known and self-identified control freak, not being able to drive anywhere when I get carsick all the time, not having any control over this line of tumor still in my brain, not being able to do anything about it (yes I know I can get a second opinion and I can choose my attitude and I can be thankful, but that’s not how I always feel), not having the energy to clean up the house much less care that it’s a mess….it really just stinks.
So I battled this funk all weekend. I read three books over the weekend – two ended sadly and praise God the one I read yesterday ended well. We watched Carolina make it into the College World Series which is tremendous. I spent the weekend playing with the kids and we ate good food, relaxed and I’m as always thankful for the help of my mom and Mike in keeping things together right now. On Sunday morning I had absolutely no desire to go to church. No I didn’t pull the I’m going to go to Bedside UMC this morning or Boxsprings Baptist, but I didn’t really want to go. But you know that’s what happens on Sundays…Mike goes to church and on the rare chance that I’m not preaching I get to listen to someone bring the Word. So Mom and I got the kiddos dressed and ready for church and off we went.
All morning I had been on the verge of tears and when we went into Bethel the first hymn was “O How He Loves You and Me” from the Faith We Sing 2108. That was it. I ended up having to go downstairs because I was pretty much hyperventilating crying. It’s a simple song…”O how he loves you and me! O how he loves you and me! He gave his life. What more could he give? O how he loves you; O how he loves me; O how he loves you and me.” I wasn’t upset because I didn’t believe the words. I was upset because I do believe the words. I know God loves me but that doesn’t completely change how devastating some of this is. We can feel and know God’s love and there is hope there, but sometimes all we feel is despair at all of the what if’s and could have been’s and it isn’t easy to keep on singing and praising when you’re just not there.
By the time I got it together Josh was on to the children’s sermon and then the choir played a song that Patti had learned at a UMW retreat. It’s also out of the Faith We Sing 2218 called “You are Mine.” Here are the words:
I will come to you in slence, I will lift you from all your fear. You will hear my voice, I claim you as my choice, be still and know that I am here.
I am hope for all who are hopeless, I am eyes for all who long to see. In the shadows of the night, I will be your light, come and rest in me.
Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are mine.
I am strength for all the despairing, healing for the ones who dwell in shame. All the blind will see, the lame will all run free, and all will know my name.
I am the Word that leads all to freedom, I am the peace the world cannt give. I will call your name, embracing all your pain, stand up, now walk, and live!
Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are mine.
I kept crying but that at least got me to the sermon which was great and much needed as well. All day I just kept struggling with this. And I finally just let it out during Phineas and Ferb and told Mom and Mike the things that I’m frustrated with and afraid of and just sick of. I don’t want to bottle this up and it keep giving me nightmares and I don’t want to take it out on my children or family, but it’s all so much sometimes that everything spills over.
Somehow though after saying it out loud to them and after eating some Fruitloops and watching the daytime Emmy’s I felt better. Last night was one of the first nights I didn’t have a nightmare and for that I am thankful. Is every day going to be easy? No. Does life sometimes really completely stink? Yes. Are there sometimes in our lives when tears of desperation are all that we can muster? Sure. Is there One who still loves us and holds us and wants the best for us even in the midst? Heck Yeah. Is that hard to handle sometimes? I think so.
I can’t help hearing that refrain from the hymn – “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are mine.” I guess sometimes there are things that we just have to cling to in the midst.
The kids were watching an Anne of Green Gables cartoon on PBS yesterday and I LOVE Anne of Green Gables. It was a lot of fun watching it with them and I love that Kevin Sullivan produced both the Anne that I grew up with and this new animated series. She always had a way with words saying things like not just feeling sad but being in the “depths of despair.” Funny girl. Maybe sometimes we are in the depths of despair. And that’s real. It’s not always faith, praise, and strength. Who in the heck is like that all the time? We are real people with real crud that happens and sometimes that’s not beautiful or picture perfect. There are questions. There are fears. There is struggle. I’m glad we don’t have to always have the answers and I’m glad that we don’t have to stay in the depths. May God give each of us the strength and the tenacity and the courage and the hope to keep keeping on but may we also be thankful that we can come battered and bruised and confused and despondent and that’s okay too.
There’s a song I listened to a lot as a gangly too tall teenager facing typical mean girl stuff – nothing out of the ordinary, but you know how it goes. The song is by Twila Paris and it’s called “The Warrior is a Child.” May we each know that there’s a home to run to and that it’s okay to struggle with picking up the pieces.
Once a month Mike gets Worship Leader magazine and each magazine comes with a Song DISCovery CD with new worship songs. There’s usually around 13 of them and they range from really awesome to okay. The CD this month came a couple days ago and there was a song by Ginny Owens on it called “Just as I Am.” I have since gone on Amazon and bought her latest worship CD that has a song by the same name and I’m hoping it will be the same one. I’m telling you these CD’s are helpful – they even give the song a theme and focus verse. The theme that they gave this one was “Repentance and commitment” and the focus verse is John 6:37 – “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away;” (NRSV) The song is no where on youtube but here’s a link to it http://iLike.com/s/92ZOU as just the music.
Some friends from college and I saw Ginny Owens way back in 2001 before she hit it big. It was completely random. We were on our way back from Carolina Place mall (there wasn’t much civilization in Rock Hill back then so we went to Pineville all the time) and we were listening to the Runaway Bride soundtrack in my car. We were singing at the top of our lungs the Dixie Chicks version of “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Needless to say – hilarious. Anyway as we drove down Cherry Road I saw this random homemade poster sign that Ginny Owens in Concert Tonight. I thought surely this couldn’t be true, so I dropped everyone off at their various residence halls and went back down Eden Terrace to investigate. Lo and behold, Ginny Owens was going to play in concert that night at Sullivan Middle School. How random is that?
So I call everyone up – I have no clue who even sponsored this thing – and there we went. We had barely heard of Ginny Owens at that point but she had been rocking some songs on the radio that we already loved – If You Want Me To, Be Thou My Vision, and Free to Dance and I had been reading in my CCM magazine that Michael W. Smith had signed her to Rocketown Records. I’ll never forget that night. I’m not going to go into all of Ginny’s story because that’s hers to share and I know you’ll be able to look up more info if you’d like. But Ginny is blind. We had no clue about that before going to the concert. When someone walked her out on stage I know I was shocked. And just amazed at the power of her lyrics and music and story. She has always been an inspiration and her songs resonate even years later.
It was a gift for one of her songs to be on that CD and I’m thankful for it. Can’t wait to get the new CD’s in the mail and get to hear more. It never ceases to amaze me that somehow in the midst we get those little things that spur us on and keep us going forward. We are given that bread for the journey to keep us sustained, nurtured and moving towards new life and new beginnings!
Thank y’all again for the prayers and for being my fellow journeyers. Yesterday I was pumped to get the news, last night I was exhausted and today I’m kind of in between. Thank God that we don’t have to be ready to go and “on” every day, but that sometimes we can just be – and that’s okay. My favorite response to yesterday’s news was from my crazy probably sleep deprived and sun stroked father who’s still at the college world series. I know we have both Carolina and Clemson fans out there so I’m not going to make any disparaging remarks about any particular team but I need to see if Enoch’s gamecock t-shirt still fits. Anyway – I sent out a text to family telling them the results and Dad texted back (he’s not necessarily the most adept of texters but that’s okay) “Praise the 555” and then a few seconds later “Lord.” Bahahahahahaha…who in the heck is the 555? So we called him and he said well, I wanted to make sure I capitalized Lord but then I must have mashed the wrong button and said 555. Then again I guess it’s better than 666 or KKK. Could have been a lot worse. But Praise the 555. Still making me chuckle. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord of our lives that goes with us, beside us and before us.
Watch out for the weird wolf thing at the end…but I did like this version.
Be Thou My Vision.
Want to hear from Ginny Owens herself? Here’s some of her story.
Not going to spend too much time reporting on this and will debrief and reflect more later but we went to the neurosurgeon’s and the nurse took out the stitches – hallelujah! My head is my head again so that’s good. The pathology report says that this is a “low grade oligodendroglioma grade 2.” Right now we just hang out and I get a MRI in three months and see if it grows or not. Because they can’t determine how long it’s been there so how fast it grew the first time, they don’t really know how fast or if it will grow this time.
There are four grades – 1, 2, 3, and 4. There are a ton of websites but one that helped me was http://www.irsa.org/astrocytoma.html. So it’s not a grade 1 which is the better of the four. But it’s also not a grade 3 or 4 which are malignant. So it’s pretty awesome that it’s not malignant! I would prefer a grade 1 but hey – I’ll take a 2 over a 3 or 4 any day of the week. The group will present my tumor (those are two words you’d really not prefer to put together) next Wednesday to the tumor board and we’re supposed to call on Friday to see if there’s any change in what we’re going to do. We’re still scheduled to meet with the new neurologist in a couple weeks and get those things going but as of now unless there are changes in my symptoms like more seizures, etc. than we’re to go about life as usual. Sadly, Nicaragua is still a no go and they don’t want me to get overly exhausted, but other than that – life is good and beautiful and wonderful.
Thank you so very much for the prayers! Both nurses were shocked that I felt so good after having surgery. They couldn’t believe that I didn’t have any tingling or loss of feeling or anything besides some headaches. I know that’s y’all’s prayers at work. I know that the rapidness of my recovery and feeling as good as I do now is because of the power of those prayers and I appreciate every one of them. I’m not going to go too much farther in that because I don’t want to start crying here at the computer, but THANK YOU!!!!!!! This is good news. We’re going to claim that and believe that. And even better – life can go on as usual at least for three months so that means having fun with Mike and the kids, family and friends, getting ready for a new year at Wesley, preaching on Sundays and loving life! Hallelujah!!!!!!!!! God is good!
The two verses that the email version of the Upper Room gave me this morning were Psalm 91:1-2 “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” The other focus verse was Matthew 28:20, “Jesus said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So tomorrow is the big day. In some ways I feel like this is an even bigger day than surgery day but maybe that’s because I’ll be awake the whole time. I am SUPER excited to get the stitches out. I have already scheduled a fabulous wash and haircut from my beloved Robin at Kuttin’ Up for tomorrow evening. Hugely excited about all of this crusty yuckness out of my hair. Mom and Mike will go with me to the neurosurgeon’s. GiGi is going to keep the kiddos. Whatever they say – I don’t know. I’ve gone back and forth all day but at present I’m just ready to know something.
To stay occupied I had a wonderful breakfast with an amazing couple that I’m marrying in less than a month and we began to plot and plan ways of sprucing up Wesley. They’re having their reception at Wesley and I am beyond excited that we have the opportunity to give it a fresh look for their amazing occasion and to get ready for the school year. We then got to work sprucing up and I had a great lunch with a clergywoman friend – a real treat! Mike and I finished out the day picking out some new lights for Wesley and voting in the primary runoff. So some work and civic duty complete it was time to hang out with the kiddos, take them to the splash pool, enjoy some Brunswick stew, cheer on the Gamecocks (cannot believe we won but so thrilled!), watch an episode of Burn Notice and we’re now flipping between the Clemson game and some crazy shoot em up movie on AMC. It’s been a busy but good day and for that I am hugely grateful.
Dad called tonight after the Gamecocks won and in typical Dad fashion he has now made friends with the scalper who tried to break in line. Today the guy came up and apologized to him for trying to cut and said he’d try to get him good tickets to Thursday night’s game. Hilarious. This is what amazes me about my father. Even when he sticks to his guns and integrity but is kind of a hard rear, he still somehow makes these connections/relationships with people. I guess you know where you stand with him and that is awesomely refreshing compared with plenty of people that just blah blah and placate you.
It’s those relationships that are so important. A dear friend in seminary would say repeatedly, “It’s all about relationship.” And it is. There’s just something about that connection with the human spirit. That which is real in me speaking to that which is real in you. That beautiful hopeful and yet fragile humanity in each of us that calls out. We’re watching America’s Got Talent now and this guy just did this whole kite thing to the music of Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of the Angel” and it was just astounding. Even Piers was floored by it. He said he was prepared to make fun of it but it was extraordinary. Very cool. Three yes’s. For a guy with a kite. Who would have seen that coming? That’s what’s awesome about the Susan Boyle’s and this kite guy and these random human connections that we make. Remember that hilarious wedding video from last year with everyone dancing down the aisle? Maybe it’s just sappy old me, but there’s just something so moving and human and great about these things. It somehow pierces our cynicism and the layers of dust and crud and stink that seem to sometimes cover our souls.
I just love it. I love when we’re shocked speechless by something and are blown away by the sheer force of joy or passion or just God given poignancy of something. You can’t see Susan Boyle sing and not think – wow – didn’t see that one coming. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk
If Simon Cowell can be blown away – Oh my. (I also love the girl that rolls her eyes like yeah right like this woman can sing.) You can’t watch the wedding party dance down the aisle and not get caught up in the moment of it all. They just practiced once briefly. Hilarious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0
You can’t take part in this life we’ve been given with your eyes and ears even halfway opened and not have your foundation rocked some of the time (sometimes in a great way, sometimes in a not so great one), but the good comes with the bad, the joy comes with the mourning, the hot fudge sundaes with the brussel sprouts. It’s awesome to be able to savor the igniting of the human spirit and those shake the rafters experiences that just blow you away in the best of ways.
So as I think about diving into the unexpected tomorrow, I know that….well there are so many cliches I could write here, I’m hesitating. I could say it’s all good or it is what it is or any other random pat answers. Instead though I’m going to say the journey rocks on. And it does. We’ll keep you posted!
We just caught the end of Dirty Dancing which you can’t hear that stinking song at the end and not think about that movie – “For I’ve had the time of my life….” Mike is now watching Family Guy. Why is it every night around 10:30 when he can’t find anything to watch – we end up on TBS watching Family Guy? It never ceases to amaze me how this show is still on the air and uncensored.
The wonderful lady at the doctor’s office called and said that we will meet with the nurse and doctor on Wednesday when they will take out the stitches and will go over the pathology report and the plan of action. So Wednesday afternoon it is. At least we now know when it is. I’m trying not to complete fast forward tomorrow and Wednesday morning, but I must admit in our world of DVR – it sure would be nice to be able to fast forward some things.
Then again, I would miss such awesomely precious moments. Enoch, Evy and I have eye goop right now and the amazing Dr. Paxtor at Sunshine Pediatrics which is the best pediatric group there is by the way has us all fixed up. Enoch actually went to bed around 6 pm which is unheard of. There is no telling when that kid is going to wake up tonight so here’s to hoping for the best! Evy was her hilarious wild self until 8:30. She is one of the most adorable girly little girls. It amazes me because I’m not really a girly girl. She’s just girly. No other way to describe it – dainty and expressive and girly. She’s tough too though. When she got shots last week for her 16 month check up she didn’t even cry. I’m glad we’re raising a strong little girl. I wasn’t someone that grew up watching Dirty Dancing. Truth be told – wasn’t allowed to watch it until I was too old to really care, but as cheesy as it is, I did always like the “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” line. And since Enoch still calls Evy “Baby” most of the time, I think that’s pretty hilarious.
I like the both of our kids are so uniquely them. They are as exuberant and happy as two children can be and just as mischevious (I secretly love the mischeviousness and think it’s adorable). I like that they have their own personalities and do things in their own way and nature or nurture – they are each their own person. We have raised them the same – if Enoch wants to play with a doll or Evy a train – who cares? It’s just funny how they interact and learn and grow and change and just are.
Someone on facebook posted on Father’s Day that not all of us have had the greatest earthly father but each of us has a heavenly Father that created us and knows us intimately. She cited Psalm 139. I love this Psalm. I don’t necessarily know if facebook is the way to share that message to some random person out there that grew up with a cruddy father or if that would just tick them off more, but you never know how God will speak to some one and you can’t beat Psalm 139 for talking about the Creator. It’s the uniqueness – the whole special snow flake thing – that makes our human interaction to interesting and complicated and special. We are each uniquely created and yet all of these unique many times strong-willed individuals still somehow manage to form community. Even in the midst of our “me”-ness and our egos of being this special creation we are called to step outside of this self and reach out to the other.
Again, I think our faith is such a balance – a tricky but rewarding tight rope walk. We are each “fearfully and wonderfully made” but we are each to “deny our selves and take up our crosses.” Hmmmm…. It’s true nobody should put “Baby” or anybody in a corner, but it’s not a big group dance a la Dirty Dancing if it’s just Baby doing a solo macarena. It’s something special when everyone joins in the dancing. When we each step out of the corners of our lives and our hearts and join in the great dance all around us – that’s what makes it really special.
So I hope that even as awesomely individual as Enoch and Evy are – that they know not only that they are special and unique and loved but that they are part of a larger story and dance that encompasses us all in mighty ways together.
Mike’s flipped it to the World Cup now. I think that’s a sign to stop blogging. Will try my best not to fast forward to Wednesday and will seek to live in the moment and in the precious time in the present – even if waiting completely stinks sometimes. Love to each of you! And thanks for your dance!
So I got to hear Josh this morning at Bethel. It is rare now that I’m not in a pulpit on Sunday mornings and so it is a good treat when as someone told me this morning, I can be a “pew filler.” It’s good to get to go to worship and just be and not have to do. Josh preached from 1 Kings 19:1-15 this morning and he really brought out the larger story of the text and the battle that was waging between Elijah and Jezebel. There is an ever present battle raging on and it’s easy to get discouraged from time to time. It struck me the question that the voice of God asked Elijah – “What are you doing here?” It reminded me of the little smart girl troup on the show Phinneas and Ferb and the beautiful little girl who is in love with Phinneas who asks always very loving and innocently, “Whatcha doin?” in such a sing song way. What are you doing here? Did you think life wasn’t going to be a topsy turvy battle? Did you think that you’d win this skirmish and then it would all be done and set and steady?
Josh reminded me this morning of two of the things that Dad did when we were growing up. When my mom went back to school to get her master’s degree in counseling to be an elementary guidance counselor, Dad became a self-proclaimed Mr. Mom for a while. On the way to school in the mornings when we were in elementary school he would sing us John Denver, particularly “Sunshine on My Shoulder.” Now you should know that Dad is not a singer. LOL. If you have ever been in one of his churches and the mic was on during the singing – you know that even though Dad enjoys singing, it’s the joyful noise kind. And yet on the way to school, he would sing us these John Denver songs. Not worried about how he sounded or anything about pitch, but just concerned with showing us how much he loved us. He also would pick us up from school every day and we would get an afternoon snack. When Josh asked the congregation this morning where they thought he picked up our snack from someone wisely said McDonald’s. Heck that would have been more nutritious. We actually would stop at a local gas station. Oh, the nutrional value. Josh remembers getting Tahition Punch (the least likely nutrional thing around – please I hope our dentists are not reading this but I do think it explains a lot) and Butterfingers. I would always get NuGrape, the sugariest grape soda I could find. So yes we had purple and red mouths and who knows how we didn’t each weigh a gazillion pounds, but we knew we were taken care of and loved.
As preacher’s kids we had a pretty good sense of this whole good versus evil thing. I mean hello – who didn’t watch Star Wars and know the difference between the Jedi and the Dark Side. We didn’t really like the Wicked Witch of the West or her flying monkeys and we knew we were safe in God’s house. There was a 7th Heaven episode one time that showed Matt hanging out in the church, in the sanctuary and they had to consult some PK’s on that one because it was so real to who we were. We knew who was sick or in the hospital, we knew what it meant to pray, we knew what it meant that our Dad was a pastor to this congregation and that meant he was here, there and everywhere.
The thing that stands out to me about my Dad was what a good example he was of being a real example of someone trying to live a faithful life. He’s not perfect by any means, but he sure as heck never claims to be. He can tell crazy stories about all sorts of things and he’s not someone anyone would ever call mamby pamby. He is as strong and fierce and no holes barred as one can get and still follow Christ. And that’s what I appreciate and love the most about him. His integrity. That he will say what he believes and stand by it whether it’s popular or not. That he speaks the truth even when it’s super annoying, a little too blunt, and sometimes scarily too honest. Right now he’s at the College World Series in Omaha and he spent the night on the asphalt last night, the fifth person in line to get tickets for today’s Carolina and Clemson games. Poor games are rain delayed right now but hopefully he’ll get to use those good seats soon. What’s funny is that in line yesterday he met this scalper. Dad doesn’t really meet strangers – he starts talking to them, much to the usual annoyance of the rest of us. Anyway, so somehow the man found out he is a minister and so today the man walks up to him and starts trying to talk to him and break in the line. See here’s the thing. Dad may be a minister, but some dude breaking into line when he’s slept on the asphalt all night – that’s not going to cut it. So he went toe to toe with the guy. Thankfully security came over and asked the guy if he had slept there all night and he of course said no so he told him to go to the back of the line. You see Dad’s not one of those Christians that is just going to sit idly by and let someone cut in the line. Yeah, yeah, I know about the whole talents thing or the workers thing with one group only working a little while and getting paid the same and that not being fair or the prodigal son stuff and I’m not really talking about those times. What I’m talking about are the times like Elijah where we feel beat down and we’ve had enough and we say okay, we’re out – we’re done. My Dad as crazy as he is, let’s me know that we’re not out, we’re not done, and we keep on going. That there is a battle ever raging before us and we keep going searching for guidance and leaning on the word of God. Because the greater story is not yours or mine, it’s God’s.
I’m thankful that God gives us those loving reminders and touchstones to look to whether it be John Denver on the way to school or sugary snacks in the afternoon or the example of one who keeps on living it and battling it out no matter the adversity. This morning we sang the song, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and those lyrics can say it better than anything I can ever write. Much more than the love of our earthly fathers whether biological or otherwise, God’s faithfulness provides for us and abides in us always.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Y’all’s faithful prayers have made a huge difference in my life. I know that it is those prayers that is given me the strength and energy to play with the kids and keep on keeping on. I can’t say how humbling it is to know that there are so many people praying for me. It actually kind of freaks me out. But I am hugely thankful for it. Your faithfulness will not be forgotten. All of my love to each of you and happy father’s day, padre! Here’s Great is Thy Faithfulness by Chris Rice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k1WhFtVp0o
I’m sorry I’ve been slack in my blogging duties. Things have been busy! We still haven’t heard from the pathology report yet so no news there, but I have had a great couple days with Enoch and Evy! We went to the pool and played and I slept in my own bed and woke up with the kids and we played some more so that was wonderful! It was good to open mail, pay some bills, and do regular stuff around the house and get to see the kiddos. It amazes me how quickly they grow and change.
A friend of mine posted earlier on facebook that she’s preaching about healing tomorrow and I was catching up reading Advocates and I noticed an article that talked about the healing service in the UM Book of Worship being a meaningful service for a lot of folks and one of our churches providing these services once a month for people. I’ve been thinking about it all day. Healing.
Tonight Mike and I went to see Iron Man II and even in that there was the need for healing. Sure Mr. Stark is a smart mouth (and there were a lot of funny parts in there), but the a-ha moment of the movie is him seeing a video of his inventor/genius dad telling him that he was his greatest invention, blah, blah, blah…and then him figuring out the puzzle of how to beat the bad guys, etc. He needed to hear that he mattered to his dad and that he loved him. Just like Tony Stark, we each have past “stuff” that needs healing. We each carry baggage around with us – some of us have painted smiley faces on it or it’s the LV designer line or there are a gazillion different pieces of all shapes and sizes with pink tags stuck to them. Whatever they look like – they’re our junk that goes with us. For some of us it’s the Tony Stark need to feel validated or loved or okay or good enough or like we make the cut. For some of us it’s letting go of hurt or anger or grief or frustration or just drama. For some of us it’s the self-sabotage and nagging that we do to ourselves. For some of us it’s pride and self-centeredness. (maybe that’s just those of us that are self-interested enough to write blogs.) For some of us that’s not feeling at home in who we are or who we’ve been created to be or wanting what someone else has. For some of us that’s knowing that it’s okay for everyone not to like us at all times of every day and that’s perfectly fine too.
It’s such a delicate balance that whole letting go and letting God thing that we do because our baggage in a lot of ways is what makes us – us. In survival mode we tend to hold even tighter to the things that are familiar even if they are the ones that have harmed us because it’s what we know. I’ve never been the hugest of Oprah fans. I watch. Hello – at 4 pm in the afternoon what do you watch if not that and don’t tell me ESPN. But since she got into this whole new age kick and has been talking like she’s this all knowing being, I haven’t really jived with her as well as before. Anyway, in thinking about this whole healing thing and our baggage, I start thinking in some ways like this new age person – the whole surround yourself and draw to yourself all the good in the universe and release all the bad. You know the whole clear yourself of the toxins thing.
And I do believe it. I plan on getting a lovely massage, body scrub, fascial extravaganza at Belue Day Spa next week because I want to scrub away any sign of the hospital and cleanse my body and soul from this whole thing. I do believe that we’ve got to release all of the cruddy yuckiness whether that be someone that gets on our last nerves or someone that has really hurt our feelings or someone who has told us we’re not good enough or smart enough or whatever enough or people that have generally made our lives little pits of you know where. Holding on to any of that awfulness is not of God and it is not healthy. Those are the toxins. If only we could drink enough glasses of water to really cleanse ourselves of all of these deep and abiding hurts so that we can really experience healing. We somehow remember the most meaningless of little things if it is hurtful to us. That thing in the 8th grade that someone told us that really hurt our feelings should have no bearing on the life that we have now and yet somehow, those wounds are still there and often it’s the times of fear that bring them back.
I have fibromyalgia. No, I am not a Lyrica commercial. Yes, the Lyrica commercials actually get on my nerves. Yes, I guess they help people know what it is, but who knows? I know that on the tv show House, the lovely Gregory said that fibromyalgia doesn’t exist. I also know that the neurologist I saw a week and a half ago didn’t believe in it either and just said it was a form of depression. Wow. Not even touching that one with a 10 foot pole except that we’re going to a different neurologist. And know it has no relation to the brain tumor and no treatment of the tumor will not help it. (I say these things because these are some of the questions we’ve asked too!) I’m not telling you that I have fibromyalgia for any other reason than to say I know that there are many people that seek and search for healing. I’m a part of a small clergywomen’s group – there’s maybe 7 of us total – and more than half of us have fibromyalgia. That’s crazy. Or maybe we’re just masichistic people. All of us are in different stages of this journey and have found different ways to love and enjoy life but I know that all of us struggle with serving this creator God of love and seeking urgently to be healed.
The summer I moved back to Rock Hill was especially hard for me because I loved Atlanta and Emory and my home there. It was a hot summer, Mike was traveling back and forth to Atlanta and the Winthrop students hadn’t arrived yet and I was feeling out of my element. In the midst of the fibro and just feeling all out lowsy sometimes my mom gave me this verse written on this little card with a chick (you know the baby chicken not the other kind) on the front. She told me I needed to claim it. Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, O Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.” It rocked it out in my pocketbook for a while and then got a little faded so has made its way into my wallet. There have been plenty of times when I have felt cruddy. Hello stitches on my head. There have been plenty of times when I know that there has got to be someone more suited for this or better equipped or in better shape or more eloquent or smarter or more organized or more extroverted or charismatic or a better fundraiser, but you just can’t argue with something as simple as “Heal me, O Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.”
Some of you may say well that’s stupid blind faith. Nope. Not a bit. It to me is saying that it’s not just about this. It’s not just about our present baggage whether that’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, whatever. It’s about the larger picture – the larger story of our life – “Heal me, O Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.” I don’t imagine Tony Stark saying that. Bahahahaha…. But I do invite us (me) to remember that and to say those words and trust those words not just with the big things like brain tumors, but with the little things in between. We had a girl’s night this past week and saw Letters to Juliet. (I know you’re thinking – is this girl ever at home resting – don’t worry – I am.) It was a predictable but really great movie. I loved watching Vanessa Redgrave and the thing that stuck out to me was when they’re pulling up at this really nice house and the guy (her grandson) says something along the lines of wow Gran what if we could end up living here. You meet the love of your life at 16, skip the messy bits and then go straight to living in the mansion in your old age. What I liked was what she said in return. “LIFE is the messy bits.” Life is the messy bits. Yes, the messy bits are what make us who we are. The messy bits are what makes the tapestry of our lives. The messy bits have been woven together to make the amazing mosaics of color and light that shine forth through us. God knows all of our messy bits. Those things that nobody knows. Those things that only a very few select people know. Those mortifying things that whole gaggles of folks know but we’re still not saying them outloud. Our messy bits are all out there. I hope that we have the courage to let the light of God break in on those. That the healing good energy (okay Oprah) can surge through. That the prayers of cleansing and powerful might of refinishing that is even beyond that of a good spa day – may open our minds, bodies, and souls up to healing beyond our imagination.
Whatever those words that we need to hear. Whatever the feelings and memories and people that we need to let go. Whatever the beautiful and cleansing energy we need to grasp hold of. May we feel refreshed. May we feel renewed. May we feel at home with the One who heals us and knows us intimately.
I’m still at Josh’s house (a huge thanks to Josh and Karen for letting us become squatters in their lovely home) and Josh, Karen, Mike and Mom are watching the World Cup and I can hear that lovely buzz of horns that everyone seems intent to whine about. What becomes a big deal to us these days? LOL.
For those that are wondering what the latest buzz is here – there isn’t too terribly much. As y’all know we saw the doctor on Saturday morning and he told us we would get the pathology results back on Tuesday or Wednesday. Wednesday is almost over but onward we go without any word. A dear clergywomen friend of mine called me earlier while I was at Wesley and she said I didn’t sound like myself and I was like OMG – you called me on a number I didn’t know so I thought you were the pathologist….It was practically the only phone call of the day.
So what have we been doing over the past couple days…well, I’ve read a lot of trashy magazines so let me tell you about the twihards and the latest with Robsten. I have eaten a lot of good food – from church folk to students to clergy colleagues and campus ministers – y’all know a way to a person’s heart! I have watched some very useless and mind-numbing tv – soap operas are so much more violent and even more insane than they used to be. I’ve played Farmville – although it’s slower now and getting on my nerves a bit. I’ve even started trying to do more twitter. Some great students tonight showed me how to fix the background of my blog and so I guess I’m moving into the next decade or so…hopefully.
Overall there’s a lot of waiting. I guess and wondering too, but that’s like a duh no brainer. It’s hard being away from my kids but that’s a duh no brainer too. I got to see Evy yesterday morning while Enoch was at pre-school and then I couldn’t take being away anymore and went and saw both of them last night. Tomorrow morning Evy will be back again and I’m super excited about that! We’re trying to keep things as normal as possible for them except that Mommy has been “at work” a lot this week. Maybe it’s like the craziness of the beginning of the school year!
I feel like I’m making a lot of people wait right now and I do wish I had some answers. But then a part of me is like, what am I waiting for anyway? I want to get this brain healed and these stiches out and go back to playing with my kids and doing the things I love! Not that Camp Josh and Karen’s hasn’t been great but what is the end date of this thing?
The problem with questions though is that it just leads to questions. Well when is any end date? I’m not talking about the finale of LOST but about when do we really ever know any answer? Are we to wrestle with questions and answers to the end of time? What do we hold to be true? What/Who/in Whom do we trust? Trust is such a big part of this. Who do we trust with our info, with our identities, with our hearts? Do we freely give these out or do we hold tight and protect? Is it a little something of both and where do we draw the line?
The Upper Room today (I get the one online by email because it’s the easiest thing to do and I don’t know if it’s the same one in print form) has been a comfort to me lately. The highlighted verses were from Romans 8:28-39. I’ll post it below for you guys. It’s verses that I’ve said many a times to students about God working all things for good for those who love God and the whole if God can be for us, who can be against us, and more than conquerors and so many good things. What I like best (I hesitate when saying best with anything because that may change tomorrow) but what resonnates with me tonight as it did this morning is that NOTHING separates from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Nothing.
I may not understand why some people end up this way and others end up that way, why some people seem to get a free pass at life and others a rocky road, or why the sky is blue, but I know that nothing in this world can separate us from the love of God. A friend of mine emailed me a couple days ago about a close family friend that just passed away at 31 of Hodgkins lymphoma and she very wisely and bravely and honestly shared some of the questions that I think we each have when we’re faced with something like that. She asked “Who does God select to call home? Who does God select to heal and create miracles?” Who?
She said they were child-like questions, but I think they are questions that on the darkest days in our hearts we know that these are the whens, and whys, and hows and what in the craps, that we want to know. It seems cliche and not at all helpful to say I don’t know. But I don’t. We don’t. I know that I believe in the power of prayer and that miracles happen all around us every day. I’m a Momma T follower that believes little things done with great love can change our world. And I know and can rest assured that NOTHING separates us from the love of God. Nothing can separate us from that. May we feel it. Even when we’re in a ticked off mood having a not so good day or when we are at our lowest point – may we just taste the presence of God. My mom has a student whose mother is most likely going to lose her second battle with cancer in the coming days. And for her I know we ache. We each know these stories and each of us has felt this pain and loss at one time or another.
May we release that. May we say outloud our doubts and our fears and our questions and our let’s just be honest profanities sometimes and say COME ON!!!! God is a big God and can take it. Rest assured. And this doesn’t even have to be a one time occasion. But let’s also pull in all the good and grasp hold of that with two white knuckled fists and say heck yeah to all of the ways God amazes the socks off us and shows us things we didn’t think possible. Try it. Just try it. Even at our lowest moments – there’s still this shining light we just can’t shake….like the buzz of a world cup horn in our ears….
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:28-39 (don’t get me into all the exegesis of this one, but just see what it speaks to you!=0))
Haven’t posted any music to y’all lately. Here’s another one that I love from church – Britt Nicole’s “The Lost Get Found.” Maybe I like poppy music but this one is just fun! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4GmLRTJq1w
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
-Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV)