All posts by Kate Quip

I'm a wife of one, mother of three. I've journaled since middle school. It helps me process my thoughts and prayers. I decided to blog my thoughts before going on a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Little did I know there was a tumor growing in my head (nasopharynx technically). So, now I am blogging that journey, which is taking me to Houston physically and all over the place emotionally and spiritually. It's a beautiful ride.

False Prophets, Sea Sick, and back to Houston 

Ephesians 4:14-15 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I often get confused about what is Truth. I have gotten so tossed back and forth by the waves of different teachings and opinions that my brain became sea sick.  I have wrestled with what I always assumed to be true from the Bible Belt I was raised in, and what was really Truth.  I love the promise of this scripture: I can become a mature part of the body, with Christ as head.  I can know the Truth.

I have spoken 4 times recently on Ephesians 4, and every time I learn something new. This last time, a new thought stuck in my heart. I’ve often heard that If you hear something 7-9 times it becomes true to you. In this 
Information Age, it is very easy to get confused about what is truth, as we all know from trying to wade through any news we watch or read. We tend to believe what we hear most often. That’s scary, and evident in the great divide we see forming in the USA.  I see people being separated from one another due to perception instead of experience. There are large sweeps of assumption, for instance, if you are at a country music that you are a conservative republican. Or if you are in D.C, you are a liberal and hate people from the Midwest. I believe the reality is that we see the worst or the best of one person, and we prescribe that person’s behavior as typical of all people having a similar characteristic of some sort.  How’s that for prejudice? 

Last Sunday, after writing the previous paragraph, we went to church.  The pastor spoke on John 6. As I read the scripture, I found an example of believing what you’ve been told instead of the truth of the situation. (There is SO much in this small passage, I expect I will be processing it for weeks and months.) See, there was a crowd of people who saw Jesus take 2 fish and 5 loaves given by a boy, and feed 5,000+ people with what was multiplied from that gift. There were 12 baskets of food left after everyone had eaten. During the night, Jesus and the disciples sailed to another town. It didn’t take long for the crowds to find them, and they wanted to see another miracle. They said, do a miracle and we will believe in you. Moses fed our ancestors with bread from heaven. Jesus said No, no, no, the Father fed your ancestors, not Moses. And that same loving Father wants to feed you THE BREAD OF HEAVEN that gives life now in this generation, and I AM that bread. (And I hear the Spirit saying “He gives life to this generation!!“). See, the people had been taught that Moses had given the bread from heaven. Scripture doesn’t say that, but the message got confused somewhere as the stories were passed along. The source of the food moved from the Father to Moses. And the people heard this repeatedly from their parents, and rabbis and teachers. It was a common belief in their community, but that didn’t make it true.  Moses was God’s friend, but he was not the source of the life sustaining manna that fed their ancestors, (despite what both Facebook, FOX, and CNBC reported😜).

I’ve been occupied with the thought, How do I avoid being dissuaded from the Truth by false teaching? This thought has really harassed me, and for good reason. There are several scriptures that make me fear being mislead.  Here is one:  Matthew 24:24-25 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.  I haven’t been pondering this for weeks, at this point, I’ve been haunted for years. Yet as I spoke the other night, I feel the answer came.

Our truth is determined by what we expose our minds to the most. THE TRUTH is determined by God’s reality. The two can differ greatly.  Lately, my mind has binged on all 6 seasons of Downton Abby, the InvestED podcast, Keeping Up with the Jones, This is Us, and life. It has moderately reflected on the lives of Joseph, Gideon, and now Matthew’s writing. To know THE TRUT, it is VITAL that I am immersed in scripture so I recognize false teachings when I hear them, that I spend time with Holy Spirit being taught (see 1Cor 2:10-13), and that I expose myself to a variety of teachings by people who believe the entirety of scripture and the power of God. 

A few writings ago, I talked about THE LIST. The one we make up in our head that pleases God and makes us good enough for him. I said the list is trash. The list is trash. I cannot earn God’s approval, I can only receive it through Christ’s sacrifice. I want to clarify that because I don’t want to give the impression that studying and knowing scripture is what makes God love us. Studying and knowing scripture protects you from lies and misleading teachings you may hear/read. 

Back to Houston Tomorrow I’m back to Houston for a check up again. I’m expecting all will go well. Last week, I mistakenly opened my calendar to last November, and it brought back a barrage of memories as we approach the anniversary date of my diagnosis. Memories of phone calls, and standing in the doctor’s office watching other people blink away tears, distracting my mind to keep it from going down a bad road. 

In the beginning, we thought I had a different form of cancer that was not responsive to chemo and radiation. If that had been true, and if it had metastasized, there would have been no treatment. They would have only treated my symptoms until I died. It would have been really easy to head down a bad path mentally, and there were a few moments I did. BUT, that wasn’t the truth. God’s peace and provision superseded our understanding of the facts. He is good, and worthy to be praised. And even if those had been the facts, even if that would have been the reality we had to face, He’s still good. As children of God, death does not bring suffering and pain. It brings full understanding of the true goodness of God, his love, his peace, his joy. I have to remind myself of this.

Blessings!

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This weekend I lost my &*%$

Wild came on TV this weekend.  All my friends have seen it, and suggested that I would like it. That’s the movie where Reese Witherspoon deals with all the crap in her life as she walks 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest trail.  It wrecked me!  Like, three semi-trucks hitting at full speed kind of wrecked.  Like, I went crying to my daughters room to apologize for getting sick and abandoning her last year kind of wrecked. I expected to remember my Camino trip, to miss hiking, to cry a little. I did not know it would kill my soul! Part of the story is about the main character’s mom dying of cancer and her very negative reaction to it. Over the last six months I have considered how each of my children have reacted differently to my illness. Deacon asks, “is it contagious” and “can it kill you” about each new disease he hears.  He shares every cut and scratch he gets with everyone who will listen.  Emma got silent, so I hear.  My dad said she lost her sense of humor while we were gone, but it is back full force.  She’s a stuffer.  She isn’t one to open up and share her feelings, at least not with me.  She says she can talk to her dad more. (Yes, this kills me a little bit because my mom was so good at listening to my teenage woes, but I’m thankful for her relationship with Cary.) . Ty didn’t talk about my cancer, other than the occasional joke one of us would crack before treatments started or after my return (because humor is how my family deals with stress… humor or yelling).  He still doesn’t talk about it.  This summer though, he depressed.  He said he didn’t worry about me, that he knew I would be okay, but this summer, I think all the being strong caught up with him.  He seems to be dealing with life fine now.  I never considered how I supported them (or didn’t support them) through my illness.  We tried to protect them.  We didn’t mention the “C” word for a few weeks.  We didn’t cry in front of them, or get emotional.  Honestly, I didn’t really get emotional often at all.  We assured them that I was going to be okay, and it wasn’t a lie. I fully believed it was simply something to get through.  It was something to get through, but this hasn’t been simple.  We were gone.  We were in Houston for almost 2 months.

Here’s the deal: I’m not one of those moms who is all about her kids.  I want to be.  I feel horrific guilt over it, but I’m not.  I don’t understand women who rush home after a day with friends like their heart is missing something.  It takes me well over a week to miss them if I travel.  Coming home after time away is painful because of the physical and emotional drain to meet their needs (this is greatly improving as they get older, but I swear “Mom, I want milk” sometimes feels like a threat to my sanity).  When I travel, I may wish they were with me to experience something I experience or to share a common memory, but I don’t long to be home with them. I don’t lose sleep, and I don’t get sad about it.  I know… I suck!! I’ve almost deleted this paragraph 3 times while writing it, but I blog to be honest and transparent, not to be perfect…

I say all of this to say: I don’t call every night when I travel for work.  I don’t even call Cary every night when I travel for work.  We may text, they call when they need something, but that’s kind of the extent of it.  So, as I am watching this movie I am realizing that I didn’t talk to my kids that much when I was in Houston.  I slept through a lot of that time, so I don’t remember how often. I started to realize that they must have felt abandoned, at least to some degree, during that time.  I know their grandparents love them and cared for them, but it doesn’t change the fact that their parents went missing and normalcy went out the window.  When I was apologizing to Em for getting sick and leaving her here to deal with the stress alone, she agreed with me.  She felt very alone.  She doesn’t blame me for getting sick or going for treatments, but she does recognize the loneliness if it all.  I’m thankful she recognizes that.  It will make it easier to heal from later, when she is ready to work through all this.  I wish I could force her, all of my kids actually, to have a SOZO to deal with our last year, but they have to walk their own path to spiritual healing.  Right?  Seriously, my SOZO friends, can I force this issue?

It’s funny how you walk through life and you think you’re doing fine, then something benign happens, and you realize you’re not okay.  Something is broken, and you don’t know how to fix it.  As I watched the movie and cried WAY more that was reasonable, my very astute spouse looked at me and said, “Are you okay?”. I did what all women would do. I said, “I’m fine”, as I walked into the kitchen to make my tea.  Then, I decided not to stuff it.  I walked back in my bedroom, buried my head in his chest and said, “I’m not fine.”  Then I unloaded the barrel.  I said all the things I hadn’t yet let myself think: What if this comes back? What if we have to do Houston again? Do you realize I abandoned my children and I didn’t send you home to take care of them? To give them some normalcy? What kind of mother does that?  I didn’t even call them every night?  Who does that?

He is a very good man, and the peace he exudes when I’m losing my mind only heightens my understanding that I am the one who got the better end of the marriage deal.  He comforted me with reminders of how tired I really was, how badly I really felt, and that I could hardly talk sometimes. He wrapped those big strong arms around me and let me cry. He let me mourn. Because he really is almost perfect (don’t tell him… it will go to his head).

Speaking of Spiritual Healing  I tell all my friends turning 30 to hire a therapist, learn a SOZO lifestyle, and go to RTF.  (We haven’t been to Restoring the Foundations, but it has been life changing for several people I know.  We just need to save the money and find the time off work!)  I feel like 30ish is the age when you can’t fake it any more without major damage.  That is the point where if you continue to stuff the pain and misunderstandings from childhood, you will self-destruct or spend a lifetime hurting other people unintentionally.  Sometimes I look at my kids and their friends (especially the teenagers) and think, “These are the things you’re going to tell your therapist about.” The truth is, no matter how well I do this mom thing, they are going to have baggage.  If I do it all right (and I don’t, as shown in the previous paragraphs) they will spend their lives comparing either themselves or their wives to me, and that will be a disaster.  If I protect them from all the things that caused me pain, they will just find something else to be hurt by.  So, there is a balance between hands-off parenting and wrapping them in bubble wrap that can only be achieved by listening to the Holy Spirit as often as you can remember that He is always with you, every moment.

Tonight I taught the kids at GUMC.  I shared my favorite Bible testimony.  I love hearing about Gideon.  Gideon didn’t have a clue who God created him to be.  He didn’t have faith in himself, and he didn’t believe God had an answer for the struggles his family was facing, but God…  Gideon learned that he can hear God, all the time.  He learned to obey his voice, and he had victory in life. Not because of his strength or intelligence or charisma, but because of his humility and obedience.  I had the kids chant two things for me tonight:  1. I can hear God.  2. When things look impossible, God can take care of it.  That’s true of cancer, that’s true of abandonment, that’s true of huge mistakes you don’t know how to overcome.  That’s true for adults too.  We can hear God, and when things look impossible, he has it all under control.  Take a few minutes.  Chant it under your breath.  If you really get brave, yell it out loud over and over like my 10 little warriors did tonight.  Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.

 

Blessings!

My DACA Journey

From yoga instructor on Facebook this morning.

Quique (pronounced Key-Kay) was eight the first time I met him. I didn’t know, until recently, that he had walked across the desert for five or six days just a few months before to enter the US. (Can you imagine walking days in the heat with three kids?)  I asked if he remembered the journey. He nodded, because he doesn’t talk much until you hang out for a long while. At eight, he lived in a small camper with his family: mother, father, sister, brother and himself, a quarter mile or so from us.  (I cannot say I have had much conversation with his family because of the language barrier, but also because they are very unassuming.  They don’t ask for anything.  They have shared vegetables from their garden before and I have taken small pints of raspberries from my raspberry bushes to share, but that is the extent of our relationship.)  A few years later, Quique and his family moved 15 miles away, and we didn’t see him again.

(I also didn’t realize he didn’t understand anything I was saying to him all those years ago, he would just laugh at us and go along with whatever we were doing.  So my attempts to manage our little visitor when we took him to church were not usually successful.)

Fast forward a few years.  New neighbors moved in to the trailer that adjoins our yard, essentially living in our backyard.  I noticed a teenage boy in a black hoodie waiting for the bus every morning when I left for work.  It took a few weeks (maybe months) for me to realize that he was little Quique, all grown up, and now going by Rick (name changed to protect identity).  I was excited to see him again, and we began to converse in the yard occasionally.  He started going to church with us again and becoming one of ‘my kids’.  Not long after Rick moved back, my son turned 16.  As we were going through the “learning to drive” process (aka my kid is going to wreck my car and kill us both process), I asked Rick if he was going to get his license.  In his hesitant way, he explained that he couldn’t. If you’re an illegal, you have to purchase a fake driver’s license and fake documents to work, social security cards etc.  This made me so sad.  This boy, with high grades in school, who would help my grandparents plant flowers, who would keep me company as I worked in the yard, his future was stunted by his birth in a place he can hardly remember living. I spent quite a bit of time in prayer over this. One night, I awoke in the middle of the night with the thought Your brother in law is an immigration attorney… How I failed to remember this, I don’t know, but the next day brought on a new journey that I never knew I would take.  The task: Get Rick a License!

I don’t remember the conversation with Daniel, but somehow I learned of DACA for the first time.  I learned that was the only way for Rick to get a legal status to be here (unless he wanted to get married), to drive, to work, to not have to worry that he could be deported for trying to live a normal American life.  He didn’t ask for help. He and his family didn’t receive any form of government assistance.  His father worked in a mill and a second job as a farm hand to support their family of five.  He wasn’t looking for handouts.  He wasn’t looking for a hand up. He was looking to do what God has designed every man to do: work.  I realize the thought that work is to be avoided has permeated our society.  However, Solomon would disagree with the notion that work is to be avoided.  Check out some proverbs about it.

So DACA… It isn’t easy to qualify for DACA.  We had to provide proof that he was in the US before age 16. School records helped a lot (thank you Mrs. Baird for your assistance in this), but we had to produce bills, phone records etc. from 10 years earlier.  I don’t know if you know this, but when you don’t have a social security number or credit cards, and you don’t read English (so you can’t write checks if you have a checking account) you pay cash, FOR EVERYTHING.  You don’t have a plan at AT&T, you buy minutes at Walmart.  When you’ve moved around, you don’t have random stacks of old bills just laying around. We had to get a copy of his birth certificate from his grandma, in Mexico.  Then we had to translate the birth certificate.  Thankfully, a friend at church was willing to do this for us. (I don’t understand this.  It’s not like there aren’t people at homeland security who can read Spanish, but I don’t make the rules!). He had to send in a photo ID.  I mentioned that you can’t get one of those without legal proof that you can be here, right?!? I think we may have ended up sending in a school ID.    After we gathered the correct documentation, passport photos, a urine sample, hair DNA testing (I may be exaggerating on the last two), we mailed it all in with the proper forms and a $400+ money order.  Then we waited.  I don’t remember how long it was but, later we got notice that we screwed something up and had to send in more documentation.  Finally, Rick got a letter that he had to go to Nashville on a set date two weeks in the future.  I was scheduled to work that day.  I tried to call to change the appointment, but there was no number on the letter, no email address. We could send a letter to Washington DC requesting a change of appointment, but if we failed to appear at the appointed time it could make things more difficult in the future. I changed my work schedule, and we made the two hour trek to Nashville.  When we arrived, there was a sign on the door announcing no phones, electronic devices or purses were allowed inside.  We had to go through security (the security officer was nice enough).  When we got there for the finger printing, we were told we needed a transcript from the school proving he was a high school student.  I asked for a fax number or email address where they could send the documentation.  We found out they don’t share such information, nor do they tell you their names.  Remember, I couldn’t bring my iPhone or my iPad in to show an email of the documents.  I don’t remember how we solved that problem, but it worked out.  Finally, after months of work and waiting, the ID showed up in the mail. 

The further we got into the process , the more I realized he couldn’t do this without me.  We live in rural Kentucky.  He doesn’t have the transportation to Nashville.  He wouldn’t have known how to get the documentation.  His family couldn’t have communicated well enough to help him.  I never realized how oppressed many immigrants in our nation are, not because someone is trying to keep them down, but because of language barriers, because of laws and practices that those of us born here just don’t know and have little reason to think about or understand.  Because we don’t know or understand, we don’t do anything to change them. Reading through Facebook, we spend a good deal of thought (or at least opinions) judging immigrants for not doing what we do or not “getting in line” to enter the country.  What we don’t understand is that there isn’t a line, and if there were, most couldn’t afford to be in it.  We have NO concept of the life they are leaving when they risk their lives to come here.

I remember visiting Cancun with my mom when I was 19. We rented a car for a day and got a little turned around.  We ended up in a  neighborhood that tourists aren’t supposed to see.  I vividly remember seeing a man riding a bicycle with his family on it with him, his wife and three kids!  The homes were mostly made of tin sheets leaned together.  I had never seen anything like it before. The part of Mexico Rick is from is notorious for its drug lords.  I think that is why his sister is so scared of being deported.  What would she have to do to survive in such a place?

Writing this blog has me thinking a great deal of my immigrant heritage. Today, I visited my grandparents to ask questions about immigration. I wish (I could figure out how to add that audio here!) My paternal great grandmother, Martha,  immigrated from Germany in 1888.  I asked my grandfather what he knew about that.  His grandparents had family who had migrated to Iowa and they decided to join them. Before Martha was two, her family went to the river bank in Germany to find a boat to take them to America. The family had to wait a time (I assume camping) until space was available for the clan. They came through Ellis Island and went through the process of becoming Americans.  Apparently, at that time, the government was giving away land; if you worked the land for a certain period of time, they gave it to you.  

My grandmother’s great grandmother came over from Germany with six children. Her husband died the day they embarked in New Orleans.  She and her brood traveled up the Mississippi River to St. Louis and joined a group of Lutheran Germans with an orphanage. She put four of the children in an orphanage while she worked as a domestic until she was able to marry and old widower. She then retrieved her children from the orphanage. She had another child after marrying him, and that was her grandmother, Lizzie. I’m attaching my Grandmother’s writing to her daughter on the subject. 

Back to Rick
So you ask… Did he get his license? Well, I took both boys to take their permit test the same day.  In Kentucky, you don’t just have to have proof of who you are, you also have to have a social security card to get a license.  We had been told we didn’t have to have a social security card with the ID card he had, but apparently we were told incorrectly.  So, that started a new journey… getting a social security number.  That, my friends, is a pain in the a❤️❤️! I won’t bore you with the details, but because he has a social security number, he can work, he can pay taxes, he can pay for health and dental and vision insurance for himself.  He would like to go to school, but that is going to require a little more saving and taking the actual driver test (He has his permit and is a good driver.  He can even parallel park.) so he can drive to class, and purchasing a car.  I don’t know if you can tell, I am especially proud of my friend, and the way he has faced difficulties without any resentment.  He has persevered with great gratitude and great attitude.
Though Rick is reserved, he’s quick witted, with a goofy joke always ready. He asks deep questions in a quiet unassuming way.  His calm demeanor and gentle smile is a nice change from the loud banter that accompanies my brood at Sunday afternoon lunch.  I know as he continues into manhood I will see him less and less.

  His family no longer walks through my yard to go fishing at the local pond.  Rick has since moved from my back yard.  The owner of the trailer his family resided in passed away and it will soon be torn down (its over forty years old and falling apart more with every rain storm).  They are living in a nicer home now, I hear, and with Rick working, a lot of pressure has been taken off of his family.  He is a saver.  He has a good bit of money saved to pay cash for his first car (some good habits – like not having debt- can come out of hardship).  He goes to work every morning between four and six with his dad, and gets off in the evenings between three and five.  
Regardless of your opinion on immigrants, here is the truth.  We have a group of people who have lived here most all of their lives. Many, like Rick, are bilingual, but significantly more fluent in reading English than their native language because that is what they were taught in school.  They are a significant, important part of our society.  For a time, many have had legal status to work and behave in American society as a contributor.  DACA is being receinded. It is in Congress’s hands to decide the fate of these young adults. My hope and prayer is that they will make a path to create a more perminant legal status for people who have been trained by our schools and cultures to be Americans.  My hope and prayer is that they will create a path to citizenship for those who would like to be a part of our nation.  My wish, is that we had as extensive of a vetting system for those of us born here, and that there was a place to deport some of them! (You think I’m joking, I’m not.)

There’s a part of me that wants to tell Rick to spend the next six months continuing to save. Then to pay a woman to marry him. He would make a great husband.  He is kind, and funny, and never harsh.  He works and cares well for his family. The problem is, we believe in God’s design for marriage: one man, one woman, no divorce. Fortunately, God loves Rick and his family. He will never forsake him. God has greater plans for Rick’s life than either of us can imagine, just like he does for all of my kids. So, I can only encourage him as I do all the others. Obey God, and get ready to be blown away by his goodness and providence.
Please, contact your legislators and encourage them to make a path for these people who trusted our government, trusted DACA. These people are vetted, they must renew every two years to the cost of over $400, background checks, finger printing and (for us) another trip to Nashville.  This isn’t a free loader program. It’s also not a permanent solution, and we need one that benefits both our economy and these people stuck in a situation they neither created nor can control.

Blessings!

Good news, golf and grief…

“We would cut away a portion of your skull, lift your brain and take out the tumor. Afterward, you would look put together, but you would have lasting effects.” (“And there is a morbidity risk…” that is doctor talk for YOU COULD DIE!)

There are some things it’s good you don’t know. It’s really good I never knew this was the possible process of biopsy or removing my tumor until today (July 14, 2017) when I found out my tumor continues to shrink and the MRI and Petscan look good. I thanked Dr. Su (who, btw, I love and wish she lived close enough that I could be real life friends with her) for not telling me this information before.  Now I understand why it took them several weeks to decide the course of action for my treatment.  I also learned that before proton therapy, surgery would have come before standard radiation and I would have had a 10% chance of being alive in 5 years. Now, we think there there is a 90% chance of me being alive in 5 years. (The cancer I had is so rare, I am one of the first couple of people to be treated for it – not sure if this is at MD Anderson or in the nation. Adeno carcinoma in the nasopharyex is more prominent in Europe, but proton therapy is not, so there is no data to stage the cancer or make educated predictions. My understanding is that Adeno Carcinoma is very responsive to both proton and standard radiation.  Because of the location of the tumor, proton therapy was the much safer option.  That being said, I am indebted to doctors, scientists, and physicists who discovered this technology, and to Humana, who covered my treatments when Aetna wouldn’t.  It saved my life and my life savings. Humana a great wellness program for members too.)

Sometimes “all the facts” are food for anxiety, and poison for hope. (So stay off webMD!) The information may be true, but it’s truth that would not have been useful for my healing during the hard days.  

I know I’ve talked about dealing with anxiety in my 20s and 30s.  The past weeks have been beautiful evidence of God’s work in me.  I had several people ask the week before I left for Houston if I was nervous.  I had to ask them what I would be nervous about.  My trip was the farthest thing from my mind.  I was thinking about work and kids and what was for supper.  (Speaking of dinner, Hello Fresh has changed my life! I can cook a meal now without great anxiety or resentment.  It’s a new skill! Send me your email or cell and I’ll save you some money.  My friends have jumped on the bandwagon with me & love it too.  Thanks Mom & Angela for getting me started.). I realized I live today, today.  Tomorrow, I will live tomorrow.  It’s a beautiful and peaceful thing, a gift from God.  He taught me a new skill set for life just as Hello Fresh has given me skills in the kitchen.  He gave me Philippians 4:6-7 as life verses 5+ years ago.  He has slowly increased that to include verses 2-8, and the revelation of these scriptures has completely changed my mental health.

Philippians 4:6-8

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

I took these words literally, little by little, starting with praising and petitions when I wanted to worry.  Praise and thankfulness are a mighty weapon against the negativity of our minds. 

This week, one of my Facebook friends asked a political question that sparked my memory.  I quit watching the news the night I got the call that I needed to be at the doctor’s office the next day because something was wrong with my MRI.  When I got home from Houston, I would turn on Good Morning America before I took the kids to school, but I would pause it.  Then, I would fast forward through the negative junk that was mostly opinion, and watch the uplifting parts. Turns out, there were not that many unplifting parts, so I quit. In fact, I’ve mostly eliminated TV from my life (I do watch When Calls the Heart on Netflix. Although Today I watched the last episode… crisis😣), and I am happier than I remember being before in my life.  

Golf

Roughly four days a year, I get paid to play golf.  (THAT MAKES ME A PROFESSIONAL, RIGHT!  Ha! Take that Hinrichs clan! You may all play golf, tennis, and corn hole better than I do, but I’m the paid professional!) In reality, I’m terrible because those are the only days I play golf.  Thankfully, the event planners know that and put me on a team with people who can carry me.  Last week, I played with three semiretired men.  Three grey haired men and me.  This year, I was even worse than normal.  I’m not quite back to my normal strength.  

One of my teammates is just the greatest man.  He told the most beautiful story of God leading him to retire that again strengthened my resolve to live in obedience to the Holy Spirit.  He is a leader of leaders and well respected.  I haven’t met his kids, but I’ve been told there are pretty great, like their dad.  I noticed that every time I hit the ball he would find something good about the shot.  This had to be a challenge, but he would find an honest and positive statement every single time.  At first, I took it as just being nice and overly positive.  I wondered about his authenticity.  As we played, I noticed that he did the same thing with the other guys on our team, and they were pretty good. He really celebrated each of us as we played.  About 15 holes in I finally had enough.

“Ok.  I have to ask a parenting question.  Were you this uplifting with your kids when they were playing sports?” (He is a good athlete, and his kids are too.)  His answer surprised me.  He said he was.  He said he knew althletics came easily to him, and he always wanted sports to be about the fun of the game for his boys.  He tried to encourage them and make sure they were having fun.  From spending the afternoon with him, I suspect he is this encouraging in every aspect of life.

I know I have a pretty critical eye and tongue when I let my true colors out.  In life, I’ve learned through many social disasters to keep it to myself, but with my kids I let it out.  I’m afraid I have forgotten to remember to enjoy the fun of things.  I’ve focused on what needs to be improved on, rather than finding and celebrating the good.  I have known, and have been working on changing this, but my experience this day hammered home the point.  You know what happened as he encouraged? I felt safe.  When I felt safe, I asked for instructions on how to improve my game.  He was very helpful!  He has the reputation for being a great coach, and I have to agree.

As I have bit my tongue with my kids, I have noticed they talk more.  They let me deeper into their lives.  They ask for suggestions on things more.  I wish I had done this with Ty and Emma when they were younger.  I just really thought I was my job to help them be the best they could be… at everything.  I’m thankful that Deacon gets the refined mom.  

Grief

This year, we have learned what it is to live in grief.  We have learned the struggle and the beauty of it.  We have also learned what it is to be carried and supported by a community.  We understand the significance of card and texts and quick phone calls when you are hurting.  I didn’t get that before.

This month my sister-in-law and brother-in-law have each lost a parent to cancer. Several of my friends have lost their parents in the last few weeks.  Our community has lost a much loved young man. I have friends who have lost their health while mine is returning.  Even having gone through what we have, I realize I still struggle with the awkwardness of how to mourn with those who mourn. My tendency is to crack jokes in any uncomfortable situation (which can be a disaster), but sometimes people just need you to be: to listen, to sit quietly, or to go about the business of life until they are ready to stop and mourn.

I’ve learned what not to say: “God needed them more than you did.” “It’s God’s will.”  “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” PLEASE STOP! These are not sound teachings.  The book of John tells us over and over the God is the author of life, that Christ came that we may have life and have it to the full.  It tells us that He will work all things together for good for those that love him and a called according to his purpose. Silence is better than lies made up to fill the void or to answer questions that have no answer.

I guess I also realize I could lose my parents.  Although the whole concept seems kind of insane. My maternal grandparents are still alive and doing well.  I can’t even put my parents in a category that they are old enough to get sick, much less die.  They are so full of life and health. They still try new things (ok, mom more than dad😂), and work, and ride bikes most days (If you see a guy riding on the rail to trail in 90* heat with jeans, long sleeves, gloves and a wide brimmed hat on, that’s my dad.  I love him and I am proud of him, even if I question his fashion choices at times.  At least he’s not wearing spandex.  Cause I’ve seen some of you this week & you need to leave the spandex at home. Oh wait!  if you want to let it all hang out, I guess it’s your business.  And I will try to find something positive and true to think about it.  Thank for the opportunity to practice my new skill.)

I found this online and want to share. I don’t know the origin or the author to give credit:
He Was Grieving Over The Death Of His Best Friend, Until An Old Man Told Him THIS. Mind Blown.
POSTED 1 YR 118 COMMENTS  From the depths of old internet comments comes another incredible gem of a story. One user wrote the following heartfelt plea online:
“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” 

The rest of the post has been deleted, only the title remains. However, the helpful responses live on, and one of them was absolutely incredible. The reply by this self-titled “old guy” might just change the way you approach life and death.

I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. 

I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents…

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. But I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. 
Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.
Blessings!
P.S I tried to find a picture of skull surgery online… way too gross to put on a blog post! 😳

PPSS Tell me about a time positive words changed your life.

Moving On…

(June 24, 2017) It was harder than I thought.  This morning was my last day serving as pastor of Shaver’s Chapel.  I looked across the congregation at people I have grown to love, and who have grown to love me too and just wanted to cry.  In fact, before they got there, I danced in the sanctuary one last time, laid on my face before the Lord and cried.  I rest in knowing leaving is the right decision, and God has new things for them and for our family, but we left on good terms, and I think that made it harder.   This last month has been such an amazing experience. I got to marry a couple I have watched meet and fall in love.  I got to baptize a girl who has been raised in that church; I have gotten to pray over people who were nervous, and council someone who needed to forgive. I guess those seem like little things, normal pastor things, but they are significant to me. As I type, I realize that those experiences refute lies I’ve believed: “You’re not making any difference for the Kingdom.”

I’ve been pondering for days if I can make myself as vulnerable as I feel I am supposed to, but I guess it is going to happen… Here goes! I really haven’t felt like I was making any kind of difference in ministry, like people just showed up for church because they always had & that’s what good Christians do. In fact, I haven’t even felt like a good Christian.  I have felt distant from God for awhile, like a year.  I felt like I was drifting away.  I wanted to be close, to hold tight, to have dreams and visions and deep times of prayer, but I couldn’t make it happen.


This is the wall you see when you enter my living room.  I have felt so distant that I pondered removing this scripture because it felt like a lie.  I wanted it to be true, but in my head it was a lie.  I actually also pondered taking down the cross hanging on my wall and any other scripture paraphernalia that might cause me to be a hypocrite.  We weren’t doing the list: study the Bible an hour a day, pray, talk about Godly things, go to church, practice hospitality, eat dinner together, have conversations as a family, teach your kids to study, know what you believe on all political issues, no profanity, and ALWAYS BE NICE! You know, good Christian values… oh, and work, and cook (because you’re going to get cancer from all the junk in food if you don’t make homemade, homegrown meals, oh wait… too late🙄 ). I used to do the list, ok, not the cooking part or political issues part, or teaching kids to study part, but I did the rest of the list.  Somehow, the list just started to feel fake, like I was pretending.  What didn’t feel fake was the anointing.  I would still stand up on Sunday morning and God would speak through me. He really did, I was just in awe of his faithfulness in my time of need.  I would read scripture and he would bring it alive.  I would have a conversation and know He spoke, but the rest of the time, I felt like I was failing. I was an intercessor, for Pete’s sake, and I couldn’t stay awake to pray or read the Bible.  I would zone out EVERY SINGLE TIME!

I learned something in Houston.  God doesn’t love me because of the list.  He loves me because I am his child.  (In fact, I haven’t ever found the list in scripture. Parts of it, yes, but this whole jump through my hoops gig I was believing…NO. I got that sucker from people, well meaning people, but the list is trash.  It’s a lie.) God didn’t save me so I could perform great feats for him, I’m not that brilliant or important for humanity that the God of the universe needs me, but … he wants me… isn’t that CRAZY? He WANTS ME! HE WANTS YOU! (Don’t get your panties in a wad [hows that for an 80s throw back phrase] we were created for this generation & he calls us to do great things for his glory to be seen among the nations, but he doesn’t NEED us, he WANTS us.)  He saved me only because I believe in his Son.  He called me & I responded… that is it.  He loved me first and that is why I love him, I can claim not part in it.  It is all His Goodness!  

So I had this moment a few weeks ago.  This thought crossed my mind for the millionth time, “I could just walk away from it all.” But I can’t because I cant quit talking to Him.  This time, I didn’t agree with the thought.  Instead, something in me rose up.  I started thinking about Mark 13:22 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”  And Hebrews 2:1 (just this verse was in my head, not the passage) “We must pay careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  And this ticked me off!  I was falling away, but I wasn’t quitting, so my prayer became something like this: 

Lord, I cannot hold on to you on my own.  I am not strong enough, but I choose you!  Help me!  I choose you! You are truth, You are love, You are all I need, and I will press in to you with everything the I have.  Help me, please. I am desperate!

And he did.  And he has been teaching my heart so much through so many different places. 

Lesson 1 – Quit meditating on scripture, and what you are supposed to be, and what the church is not (that’s just pride). Instead read scripture and meditate on how great God is.

Lesson 2 – He’s big enough to handle the world without me, and that includes my children’s futures.

Lesson 3 – I don’t have to perform for him. I don’t have to perform for him to love me.  I don’t have to perform for him to love me.  I don’t have to perform for him to love me.  I don’t have to perform to earn his love. His love is not conditioned. His love is unconditional. He loves me. PERIOD, END OF DISCUSSION, QUIT ARGUING.

Lesson 4 – There is a new season coming.  Rest in Him until he’s ready to start it.  (See lesson 3 when you start doubting this). 

Lesson 5 – This one has been rolling around in my spirit for months, but finally made its way into words as I drove to work today: (07/12/17) God is good. His goodness supersedes my interpretation of him.

Food for thought: 

I’m doing a study by AJ Jones called Finding Father. I listened to this teaching today that is part 2 of a three part series on the topic. It really stirred my heart. I will be writing more on this later:  Father Types 

We are multi-churched right now. It feels good. I’m really enjoying interacting with different houses of worship.

Today I Got Lost

When I left my house this morning for work, I thought I was going somewhere I never landed.  This isn’t unusual in my job, and the change is one of the things that makes me really enjoy what I do.  I thought I was going to help with a close out in Henderson, KY and go eat with lunch with some great clients.  Those plans changed, and I ended up changing course mid-trip, so I went different places. I took a wrong turn after my first stop for the day, and I was in the guts of Western Kentucky traveling to the deeper bowels of W. Kentucky a totally different way than I normally take.  At one point, I stopped dead in the middle of the road, when I turned on to a one lane road following my GPS.  I turned around and waited for it to recalculate.  It did, and then took me on a loop back to my one lane road.  So, I took the little lane up the hills (praying there was not a fast moving truck or large tractor on the other side), through the fields and landed on a gravel road, where I checked that I had my gun… just in case I got stuck.  I finally made it back to blacktop, civilization, and a couple more school systems before I landed at home.

Turning on to the little lane the second time, I had the thought, “This is a lot like life.”  When we are young, we think there is one destination where we are going.  We have to get the right career, so we can get the right job, so we can get to the right place so we achieve success, or inner peace, or zen, or whatever your thing is.  But, in reality, life isn’t about a destination (cue Amazing, Aerosmith music in your head “Life’s a journey, not a destination!”  Do you see Alicia Silverstone 199something?  You’ve got to go watch the video for old times sake – for those of you born after 1990, videos were shown on MTV and VH1 before reality TV took over the world.  I do think MTV had the first reality TV show, so give them credit… or blame.).  Life happens on the journey, not when you arrive where you think you are going.  This is where the transformation of the person happens. When I arrived at my first destination this morning, I did what I needed to do there, got back in the car and headed to another destination. When I realized I was headed in the wrong direction, I adjusted- granted it took me longer and I ended up on gravel one lane roads, but I got to stop number two, and I saw some beautiful new scenery along the way.

For me, I haven’t been limited to this “Make it to the destination” mentality strictly in my career, but bled over into my home and my ministry.  When I first felt called to ministry, (first of all I didn’t think I should do it because I am a girl) I thought the only way to do ministry was to go to seminary, and become a preacher.  I didn’t realize ministry is so much more than preaching and leading a church.  I felt like I had failed for so long, that I had not followed my calling, that I had forfeited God’s plan because of fear, and maybe I did, but as I have said before, I now realize I did so much more ministry sitting in a chair as an insurance representative than I have done pastoring a church.  I also realize that even though I feel led away from pastoring a church at this time, my time of ministry isn’t over.  In fact, it may be ramping up, I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.  I don’t want to live my life any more looking at the distant dream, wondering if I am doing the right thing striving for something.  I don’t need to know that next thing, and I CERTAINLY don’t need to know the distant thing, I just need to know today, right now.  I want to be led in the now by the Holy Spirit.  That’s where the joy of the Christian life is, living so closely in friendship with God that he shares his heart with us. We get to see people the way he sees them.

That was the example of the disciples in the book of Acts.  They lived their lives led by the Holy Spirit.  There were many times they thought they were going one place, and things changed and they were taken in a totally different direction.  Check out Paul’s story!

I have a person in my life who drives me a little crazy.  I am sure you love all people without reservation, but I struggle with wanting to lift holy hands and bring them down briskly on some heads upon occasion.  This person has done nothing to me personally, or to my family, but their negativity drives me mad.  I found myself angry and wanting to confront the behaviors, but I don’t have the relationship to do this.  I got to the point that I would dwell on this person when I was driving, in the middle of the night, when I would be out for a walk I would complain to my friend about them.  This is not normal behavior for me, unless someone I love has been hurt by a person, so I became concerned and started asking God what was up with this.  I prayed for the person, maybe that would change my heart… my feelings of frustration only got stronger.  I tried to replace the negative thoughts with positive attributes about the person… my critique became even worse.  I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out why this person was getting to me so badly.  One day I heard part of this scripture in my head

Romans 4:16-17English Standard Version (ESV)

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

God calls into existence things that do not exist.  That includes in his people.  When we believe and allow him to be Lord of our lives, we are a new creation.  He spends a lifetime leading our journey so we become who we were created to be (sometimes with cooperation, and sometimes with great resistance).  He reminded me that he sees me as the person I was created to be, not the one I am.  He did this with Gideon when he called him a mighty warrior when he was hiding in a wine press.  He did it with Moses when he called him to return to Egypt.  So, if he sees me in my fullness, can I see his people with the hope he sees them with?  The answer… not on my own, so my prayer changed from “Lord, bless them, create goodness in their marriage, yada, yada, yada, all the generic stuff I want in my own life” to “Lord, help me see them as you do, complete, sanctified” and I got this picture in my head of this at 75, and I saw them as I see Mary Dye (possible the most positive and uplifting person I know). And, I realized that to look at people in the church as who they are displaying as today makes God pretty small.  To look at them with hope, to see who they were created to be, to call that out as truth and build them up is faith.  It’s faith in something only God can do!  

I cannot get over my negative feelings on my own power.  I had to recognize my helplessness to change on my own power (Can anyone say pride?).  I had to ask for help and God helped.  He changed me, he changed my heart.  I smile when I think of my friend now.  The old feelings are gone, replaced with excitement over things to come, not only in their life, but in mine also.  Isn’t that how all great things happen in life?  We give up our own power and glory and submit to His?

Stops and Starts

Well, I am hooked back on Pepsi full time (like 2-3 a day), and I drank one with dinner. (Supper if you are my husband.  My mom called the 3rd meal of the day dinner, his called lunch dinner.  He corrects me every time, but he is asleep, yet I still hear the reprimand  in my head.  I guess that is what 20+ years together will do for you.  He doesn’t even have to be here for the conversation to happen.)   Pepsi is a great way to gain weight (I’m up almost 10 pounds from my lowest weight), but I have a serious addiction problem with it.  Usually, I don’t partake after lunch, yet tonight I did, so tonight is a good night to write.  Tonight is a good night to write.  I’ve had a lot bouncing around in my head this week.

School is letting out in the next couple of weeks.  Summer is starting as school is stopping.  This year, school letting out is a bigger deal at my house.  Ty is graduating from high school.  I AM NOT THIS OLD! There are a lot of stops that will be happening.  He will stop living in my house full time in a few months.  I will stop knowing where he is most of the time.  I will stop having friends who see him daily and can let me know if there are problems (not that this has actually ever happened, but the idea of it brings some peace of mind).  With all the stops, some starts have to come.  I have to (and have had to) start letting go of my need to know everything. I have to start trusting him to foresee mistakes coming down the line without me there to comment.  (I have to develop more grace for mistakes because I forget what it was like to be 17, and how much I didn’t know!)  He starts a new job for the summer.  He starts college in a few months.  He starts his adult life, one where I am a smaller piece, and that’s ok.

Emma is stopping middle school and starting high school.  I expect this will be a very different experience than it has been for Ty because they are very different people.  She has stopped soccer, at least for this season to let her knee heal a bit more.  She is going to start babysitting for the summer.  I expect boys will start showing up more – GUYS, SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO DATE UNTIL 16.  So, don’t get any ideas.  I am not afraid to shoot if I don’t like the looks of you.  And trust me, I won’t like the looks of you unless you love Jesus and want her to be all that He has created her to be more that you want your own happiness.  Ladies… I have the same expectations of you if you want to date my sons.

April had a lot of stops and starts for me.  I stopped being thirty something and started being forty something.  Again…  I AM NOT THIS OLD!!  After a great visit to Houston, I stopped being someone on disability and started working again.  I stopped being someone who has cancer and started being someone who had cancer.  (Actually, this isn’t true.  I was very convicted early on that I always refer to myself as having HAD cancer, not HAVING cancer.  I wanted to declare my healing!)  So I will say it this way.  I stopped being sick and started being well.  It’s a harder mindset change than I expected.  I didn’t realize I embraced sick, but I guess I did.  I guess I had to for a bit, lacking appetite, lacking energy.  But, as I’ve been back at work, I notice when people as how I am, I answer that I am doing really well, but I always add that I get tired easily, and have to take naps.  This has been true, but I am curious why I add it to the conversation.  Is it an excuse because I don’t want people to expect too much of me, or am I reminding them that I’m still sick?  I’m not sure, but I think it is time to STOP THAT.  Hey!  I did also start to grow hair on my bald streak, which gives me kind of an edgy look (which makes me look YOUNGER!!) and my favorite worship leader, Jessie Early released an EP.  You have to soak in Restless Heart.

I’m thrilled to be back at work.  I love the people I get to interact with daily.  They bring me great joy.  I knew I liked my job before, but I appreciate what tremendous people we have working in our school systems in Kentucky.  Just quality people!  Being back at work means I’m out of my insulated bubble.  Cary and I went to Grace Center right after I was diagnosed.  We received a word from a trio of students who didn’t know anything about what was going on in our lives.  Part of that word was that a woman saw us in a bubble, insulated, protected, and then we would be thrust into something new.  That description has really been the picture that has described the last six months.  I have felt very protected and like we were just to rest and receive for a time because something was coming after all this.  I’m not feeling thrust into anything new, but I do want to be open to God’s leading in every area of my life.  I don’t want to fail to dream his big dreams because I am too logical or practical or scared, but honestly this is a struggle for me.  I dream big dreams, but I let them disappear because I am scared of the sacrifice they will take, or that I will fail.  I want to stop this way of thinking.  I want to learn to take risk.

More stops and starts are coming.  I am going to quit pastoring the church the end of June.  This is a hard decision, one that leaves a lot of questions in my head.  I have felt called into ministry since I was 18.  I have battled what is okay for women in ministry for most of the years since.  I finally have accepted that I am called, gifted and designed by God, as a pastor and teacher, and it is time to leave.  Can I be honest though?  I did A LOT more ministry and made A LOT more impact for the Kingdom in my sales job than I have pastoring a church.  I was in touch with hurting people daily who didn’t need religion or programs, but who needed a touch from Jesus desperately.  I don’t know that true ministry happens in a pulpit, or even in a church building most of the time.  True ministry happens one on one, when we share people’s lives in our everyday world, and we bring Jesus into the room.  Maybe we bring him in when we listen to people, or when we offer to pray over them with they share difficulties, or maybe we just bring peace and acceptance where there is none.  What will I start after I stop at Shaver’s Chapel?  I don’t know.  I have some ideas.  I feel like we need to work with married couples in some capacity.  We have learned a lot in the last 20 years.  We do marriage well most of the time, and I think we need to share that with our community.  I also have to stop only doing the convenient things.  That probably means starting home meetings back up.  My kids are desperate for them.  It also means we start looking for the church God wants us in next.  That should be interesting…  blessings

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens