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.

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

Offended

I know this is the year of the woman. I had a hard time with that at first, but I’m accepting it, and embracing it, however I think a more accurate title may be The Year of the Offended. At least that is the theme for my week.  God tends to speak to me in multiples. So, if there is something I am supposed to be paying attention to, it will show up in several different ways, from different sources.  This week, the topic is offense and forgiveness. 

Last Sunday, I attended Greenville United Methodist, and Brother Steven gave a powerful message on forgiveness.  It was wonderful.  As I sat there, I couldn’t think of a single person I needed to forgive.  I asked God to show me, and nothing showed up.  I was just happy to be alive & able to eat.

Lesson 1 So, when we got home, Cary said, “I forgive you for getting sick.  I wasn’t mad at you, but I just needed to say it.” Brilliant! He was right.  I needed to forgive me for being sick too.  I needed to forgive me for being weak, for worrying my family, for not being able to carry on with all my responsibilities.  I needed to forgive my body for betraying me and growing cells that would injure my body, that would try to kill me. Immune system, I forgive you for not identifying and destroying the cancer cells. I release you from my judgement, and I restore you to do the job God created you to do, to protect me and keep me alive. I restore you to your rightful place.

Lesson 2 I was invited to pray with people at Living Word’s Soul Sisters meeting.  It was beautiful, honest, and about forgiveness.

Lesson 3 My friend Rosi had people steal from her, really steal from her, and she shared her desire to forgive. 


Lesson 4 Earlier in the week, I saw a friend. She came to greet me, tears streaming down her face, welcoming me home. Offense immediately sprung up in my heart. This woman took advantage of me, I don’t think it was intentional, but it ended up costing me quite a bit of money in lost income and resources.  As I hugged her, I realized, I had not forgiven her, and I really thought I had, but the offense was still there.  Lord, how do I forgive? I thought I had let it go.  I thought I had released her, but I see that I have not.  As I am pondering this question scripture is popping into my head.  James 5:16 Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!  Jesus taught his disciples on a mountain one day. He said many difficult things (Matthew 5), but specifically this in verse 21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’ (an Aramaic word of contempt. Insert your own explicative as an American substitute), is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the of the fire of hell. So, I don’t want to be subject to court.  I don’t want bitterness to set up in my heart where unforgivness now resides. Bitterness destroys joy, and I can say I have had real, pure joy in the depth of me since a dear group of friends/family prayed over me in the last year.  I NEVER want to lose this joy.  On my worst day in Houston, the day I asked for a feeding tube and the doctors refused, I still had peace and joy. (And they changed my meds so I quit throwing up everything that went in my body.)  Being angry, harboring offense isn’t worth giving up joy and peace.  I’d rather be taken advantage.

Wow! In fact, being offended that I was taken advantage of (essentially stolen from), is a point of view issue.  It’s a trust issue.  God has blown our minds in the ways he has provided for us through the last four months.  Someday, I will have to share the full story of his faithfulness. He is such a loving Father.  He is our provider, not me, not Cary. HE IS OUR PROVIDER! What was mistreated didn’t really belong to me in the first place.  It was his to give. In fact, as I reflect, the income lost has more than been recovered through other avenues. 

Looks like my solution to this problem is easy. Father, I am so sorry I took your place as judge for my friend.  I judged her as inconsiderate and selfish, and I cannot know her heart. You alone know the hearts of all men.  Lord, I didn’t trust you to provide for us. I thought I had to take care of myself. Please forgive me for waivering in my trust of you as judge and provider.  Thank you for using circumstances to reveal the ugly parts of me, for refining me, and thank you for being a forgiving God. Thank you that you don’t act like me, and think of my offenses when you look at me.  Help me to be more like you in this way. In Jesus name I pray and praise you! Amen

New opportunities & other news: I just got the final denial that Aetna refuses to cover my proton therapy. A new opportunity to thank God for Humana & let go of offense.  I will be preaching Sunday at 9:30 at Shaver’s Chapel. I’m feeling better each day, as long as I take a nap. And life is getting pretty normal, except I am home enough to tidy the house each day, so that is a new beautiful thing. I am struggling to not get anxious about going back to work next month. I love my job, but I’m aware that I had the candle lit at both ends for years, and I think that was part of my getting sick.  I don’t want to return to that lifestyle, and I am not sure how to avoid it. Things to pray about…

Blessings

Eating

Yesterday I ate Japanese food, my FAVORITE!  It almost tasted right.  It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago I would drink water to have something to throw up, took my fluids by IV every few days, and couldn’t eat. I am in awe of the body’s ability to heal.  I am also in awe of how crazy side effects of treatment and medication can be.


I think my body thinks I’m pregnant. Because I was radiated so close to my pituitary gland, I think my hormones/systems are confused.  During treatment I kept comparing my symptoms to morning sickness. Thankfully the nausea has gone away, but this week I have cried at Good Morning America three times (Actually I have cried about everything three times. Not sad crying, just crying.) lactated, and I may be nesting.  But my house is looking better each day!

The taste of chemo Everyone in my life is worried about my weight, except me. My theory after having babies was that it took 9 months for my body to get that way.  It should take 9 months to get back (It actually takes two to twenty years to get some resemblance of your body back.) It took 7 weeks to loose 15 pounds. It’s going to take that long to gain 10 back. Even so, there are a lot of precious people concerned about my waify build who don’t understand why I’m not gorging on doughnuts 🍩 and other foods people over 25 try to avoid. It’s because they don’t taste right. Postchemo taste is like eating texture instead of food.  Here is the best way I can explain it, imagine a loaded baked potato in front of you.  Butter running over the sides, savory bacon cut into little strips, shredded cheese lays limply over the top, and on the top, a dollop of sour cream. You inhale the smell and it fills your soul with delight. Your body anticipates the savory goodness, but your tongue doesn’t agree.  You taste the texture of the food. You experience each grainy particle of potato. The salty butter and savory bacon are reduced to the slimy grease that coats every surface of your mouth. The sour cream is just the sour. The joy of the bite is gone. It’s disappointing at best & revolting at worst. So, you find what you can tolerate and move on. I have been able to add a new food each day this week. Rice and beans are my friends.

Weakness Someone asked me if I was able to do any ministry while I was in Houston.  Outside of writing this blog, the answer to that question is no.  I wasn’t.  What I learned in Houston was how to be weak.  I learned what it was to come to the end of your body, mind and spirit, and still be loved.  I learned what it was to depend onmy husband for food, rides to the doctor, times for medications, and memory. The prayers and support of my friends and strangers sustained me when I didn’t have words to pray.  It also made me appreciate the beauty of praying in Spirit instead of my mind. 

Cary didn’t love me less in Houston in my weakness and vulnerability.  Instead, I got to see just how loving and kind he really is. I have never needed him like that, so I never got to see how deeply devoted he is to me.  God didn’t love me less when I was in bed crying. Instead he sent people to text, Cary to hold me, his peace to know He was with me, and that I was loved every bit as much as when I am praying or preaching. God wasn’t disappointed in me for being vulnerable. I think this is a lie we believe, that God relies on our strength. He doesn’t.  He’s strong enough on his own.

My daughter is very gifted in math and very driven. She is a great writer, but hates grammar.  (Like her mama.) This week she was saying she didn’t feel smart because grammar doesn’t come easy like math.  I explained that if she is best at everything then other people never get to be the best.  She has to embrace her strengths and her weaknesses, and celebrate people who excel in areas she doesn’t, but equally appreciate and celebrate her own strengths.  The key to success is surrounding yourself with people who balance you out, and being confident enough to be okay with them.

So, now I am home and life is returning to normal.  Only it’s not normal.  I cannot go all day and all night, and I realized last night I was ignoring my lesson on weakness.  I have pushed too hard the last four days, and the last two nights I didn’t have anything left to give.  I have to rest.  That means I have to say no to some things I want to do during the day to be available in the evenings to my family.  I have to be weak. I have to ask for help.  I am terrible at asking for help.  I fear the person will say no or grumble, and then I will get mad and resent them, so I just do things for myself, like moving large furniture and being two places at once.  But this isn’t how God designed me to exist.  He designed me to be interdependent, vulnerable, weak.  There is beauty in weakness. We get to see the beauty of others and the strength of God in our weakness. So go, be weak my friends!  I am going to seek out some personal healing over my difficulty asking for help and live this more balanced life.

Here is a teaching on Blessing, from Grace Center that is rocking my brain this week. If you listen, let me know what stirs in your spirit.
Blessings!

Reentry

Family picture our first day home. And can we all agree I don’t look old enough to have parented these kids. LOL! (You have to agree, I just defeated cancer)

The transition into real life is going better than I expected.  It seems kind of surreal to be home.  I didn’t realize how stir crazy I had become in that little apartment in Houston until I got home to some space.  I am often brought to my knees in gratitude and tears as I consider what God is doing and has done through this time. He is such a good God.

On the way to the airport in Houston we Ubered.  We Uber quite a bit, and I love the service because we get to meet such interesting people. I say this because my last ride was not a typical ride.  As my husband is famous for saying, “I thought we were going to die in a fiery crash.” Our driver drove from New York to Houston to drive for the Super Bowl. So on the day of our exit (3 weeks later) he was still in Houston driving.  He liked to go 80 in a 60 in heavy traffic. I was working to not be scared. And as God does, he used this time to assure me (and keep us alive). His music selection was Reggae, specifically Great is Thy Faithfulness and Jesus Loves Me in Reggae. As I mouthed the words to the songs on the radio as God’s promise that if he can kill cancer, he can keep me alive in Houston rush hour with a New York cabbie, I was overcome with the emotions of gratitude in his provision for this time. (And traffic came to a screeching halt, I told the cabbie he may want to slow down because I just finished chemo and I might puke in his car -a slight but true exaggeration- and he found an alternate, slow back route to the airport.) 

And Great is thy Faithfulness has been running through my head ever since. Why? Because it is so true. God prepared us, me specifically, for this time.  In fact, he told me to get quite and still a couple of years ago.  Last January I felt like I needed to get in shape. At the time, I wasn’t sure why, buy my 40th year seemed like a good enough reason. He brought a special 20 something woman into my life who was just right to encourage me in this way & who had just met Jesus & was in love with him for all the right reasons. And I needed a reminder of what that puppy love looks like, because my love was getting stale and comfortable. Her passion inspires my heart every time we talk. So, I started an exercise class. I spent a good portion of three weeks panting on the floor while Jess, my instructor, encouraged me, and the rest of the class did their cute little moves.  After a few weeks, I started to keep up better & eventually learned to beat myself instead of focusing on how others were better at this than me. Then my opportunity to walk the Camino came.  I thought this was clearly why I was getting in shape. But after my Camino, I felt God saying something else was coming. And it did, the doctor visit, the MRI, THE PHONE CALL, the move to Houston, proton therapy, the people met, losing 15 pounds.  They all came, and they have all past, and every day I’m a little bit better.  I’m napping or resting hours a day, and walking through the book of Hebrews at a snails pace (which is the perfect pace to let it saturate my heart and mind). So it is a surreal experience to be home. I cannot do the busyness that has been my life for the last 15 years, so I am doing all the other things.  I am watching TV on the couch with my kid, and doing spelling homework. I can’t really eat much yet, so my mother and mother-in-law are keeping my family fed, and I am adding a new food a day (yesterday I ate a whole roll) to my stomach. 

Upon reentry I am still outside my life a bit, and I am thankful to be here because I feel like I can see better from here.  My 17 year old doesn’t need the mom who worked to make him better with self improvement speeches any more.  He needs an encourager who will speak life and hope over him as he test drives life.  It’s his turn to be the pilot.  He is going to have success and failure, just like to rest of us, and my job is to believe in him and to remind him that God’s plan for his life is too big to be imagined, so he should pray and obey. Pray for me that I will “know my role” and that my mouth will keep up with this new plan.

My daughter is a beautiful woman inside and out. Fourteen is not a child any more, it is WAY more grown up than I thought.  I keep reminding myself that girls this age used to get married and run households, successfully.  This particular kid could run a bank.  She took on a lot of responsibility in our absence, and she was trustworthy with a lot of freedom, so not taking that back because I can, and still setting appropriate moral limits is going to be a challenge for a couple of years. God is at work in this child, and I need more time listening in prayer and less time intervening.

The baby. Well, he’s just that, he’s 8. And spoiled.  And our work isn’t wrapping up like it is with the other two. It’s not time to let go.  It’s time to cultivate a person. He’s the youngest by a lot, and I have appeased him because it made my life easier than doing the work. So, we are doing the hard things (like cursive homework 😣😵😩). He is a comedian, and uses his wit to distract me. I’m beginning to think he’s the most like his dad & so dad can raise him! (Just kidding. I don’t want to miss any more time.) The trick is going to be living this life and still seeing things from the outside.

So much good has already come from this time away.  I was great at trying to make everyone happy that I got in the way or other relationships. Because we were gone, my kids have deeper relationships with all of their grandparents, more authentic.  They have also gained weight and loved eating home cooked meals (they will have to get over that.). Because we were gone, Cary and I love each other even more, I’m head over heals for Jesus again, and I know more of the Greatness of his Faithfulness.  Our story is nowhere near complete.  There is still more Faithfulness to be told, but I’m getting tired of writing, so you will have to get the rest of the story later.
Listen to Great is thy Faithfulness  https://youtu.be/v92I3GYL55g
Blessings!

The Disneyland of Cancer Treatment

Today is my last proton treatment & I am almost 2 weeks out from my last chemotherapy treatment, and I would love to tell you I’m doing great, but really, it depends on the moment.  Lucky for you, I’m typing in the morning. This morning I’m reflecting on my experience at MD Anderson. I was listening to Alyn and AJ‘s pod cast last week, and Alyn made a comment about when things are done really well, really intentionally, he feels cared about, or something to this effect.  I realized MD Anderson cares about caring excellently.  It is the culture of this place to care.  I have heard custodial staff being trained to make sure they greet and smile at the patients.

I have gone to a couple of dozen doctor visits, six chemotherapy visits, 33 proton therapy visits, fluid infusions, and had my vitals taken many many many times.  And the remarkable thing is, each time you are treated like you’re the only person they are taking care of that day.  I’m not, but people make eye contact and ask how you are doing. 

Several of my chemo nurses let me know they prayed for me, one special lady remembered that she had treated me the week before. They asked questions about my life, not just my medical information. And don’t get me started about my Proton Team.  They shared life with me, 5 days a week.  I got to hear about their kids,their houses, the fact that Jay is a cancer survivor and plans to go to medical school (he’s going to be an amazing doctor). I’ve gotten close enough that the thought of not seeing them again makes me cry. Because in the most abnormal season of my life, their excellence has allowed me to feel less like a patient and more like a friend.  It has been a huge blessing.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent care taken by my husband the other 22 hours a day.  I guess I’m going to have to learn to share him with the rest of the world again.  So it is with great celebration and a little bit of sadness that I come to today, the formal end of my treatments, but not the end of my recovery.  

I come with this question: Where can I come with intentional excellence? Where can I treat people as the one, not as one of many? I have several answers, what about you?