Friday, October 9, 2020

Cancer: the rest of the story

Quite some time ago, I was asked to give a talk about Provision at my Moms on a Mission Group

 (think what follows MOPS)

I thought I'd post it here.

This also explains the rest of the cancer story.  


(sorry for the three year cliff hanger)

___________________________________________________________________________________

When I received the text asking me to speak this morning about “God’s provision in my life” today, I was sitting at a track meet in Reed City surrounded by a BUNCH of 3-8 grade kids.  It was cold, getting wetter by the minute, and windy.  

But I loved every minute of this day.  

And while the weather wasn’t my favorite – I constantly remember when we were battling infertility, and the me-back-then would have given my right arm to be sitting there that day.  I’m instantly filled with gratitude for the blessing of where I’m at.

 
Then I start thinking about the word 

“provision.”  

My mind goes straight to blessings:

-I have a family.  An amazing family – a loving humble, hard-working husband who can and does so many things for me…including building me a house from scratch.  (And God’s given me ALMOST enough patience to get through it.) He’s also given me 3 children – alive, and loving life.  2 more in heaven with the hope that we will all be reunited someday.  Then the things start, right? House, running cars, work in a building where my 2 littles go to school, I could go on. 

(and on and on and on)
 
There are times in life where the blessings are abundant.  But it wasn’t during a period I would have wished on myself.  In November 2017, it was finally time for an endometrial ablation.  I was all “Yay! No more monthly visits!” But one week later, I received a call, 


“Sandy…we found cancer.  

You have cancer.  

You need more surgery.  

This is your oncologist’s name.  

They will call you.”  


The fear that descended at that moment was nothing short of crippling.  I don’t want more surgery.  What if I suffer?  What if I die? What will become of my kids? 
 
But during this time of fear that cut me to the quick, there was an abundance of God’s provision like I’ve never seen in my life.  To name a few: 

Dave was home after I received the call. (he's ALWAYS gone working)

My pastor was immediately available for prayer. 

Friends just happened to be just around the corner when I called them, and just stopped by.  

Over the course of the next week, God surrounded me and my family with the most amazing community of people who served us as the Hands and Feet of Jesus.  Once I finally got the appointment at the oncologist, so many pieces fell into place, and my surgery was able to jump into a cancellation a mere 3 days later. 
 
The day of my surgery, God worked overtime showing me that He was near- a pastor who showed up as I was just climbing into bed.  (and I will say we had so much fun those 2 hours before the surgery!) The same discharge nurse from my ablation whom I LOVED became my intake nurse for surgery.  The same OR nurse who knew I needed to sing a hymn to calm myself down walked me into the surgical suite.  An oncologist I had 100% confidence in.  Suzanne sent her sister in to greet me at one point. And an endless supply of prayer from all over. 


What a gift.

 
While I was busy trying to eradicate cancer from my body, my kiddos had experiences of their own.  This is where I tell you a bit about MiddleC's story:

My sweet middle son.  He's a lot like me:  Hard shell to crack, but trusting, kind, loyal and very gooey on the inside.  


We prayed together as a family before they left for school.  He held my hand so tight.


So very tight.  

He hugged me with tears brimming his eyes.

He struggled to leave me that morning.


He struggled to stay focused at school that whole day.  Watching the clock.  Knowing I would be in surgery starting at noon.  He couldn't read.  Couldn't focus.  Couldn't eat.  He tried to put on a good show for everyone around him, but he just wanted to be near me.  

He had a basketball game after school.  My surgery ended around 4:30.  The news was cautiously optimistic.  While it wasn't a cut-and-dry surgery, the oncologist reported that she didn't see any cancer cells outside the uterus or in surrounding lymphnodes. (Thank you, God).  Dave had a small list of numbers to text letting them know how I was doing and the outcome of the surgery.  One of them was my dear friend, Heather.  She is a member of my Tribe.  A person I trust to love and care for my children just as I would for hers. She got Dave's text, and at half time went into the team room to give Colin the report.

"I got a text from your dad."

Colin stands and holds his breath. 
He's lion-hearted:
He's going to be brave in this moment. 
He stands tall and strong.

"Your mom is out of surgery.  
She's doing well. 
 It looks like there's no evidence
 of cancer on the outside of the uterus.  
This is good news!"


Exhale.



My boy crumbled.


He crumbled to the floor.  


He wept.


This is where I tell you that we struggled coming to this school. 
A few years prior, 
Our old school closed in a horrible way.  
It took a while for us to feel like this new school was home.  
But...all that heartbreak...all that angst leaving the old behind:  
WORTH IT 
for this moment right here.
Read on.  


This team of young 5th and 6th grade boys?

They crumbled with him.  

They dog piled on him weaping tears of joy with him.


And then - completely umprompted- they ALL broke into song.  

The Doxology:

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye Heavenly hosts.  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Amen!"

Then, they jumped up, wiped their tears, ran back into the gym and had an amazing second half.

What a gift.

 
Afterward, we received another abundance of God’s provision by more prayer for healing, endless hugs, friends who came to babysit me (and Lucy), rides for our busy family for the next two weeks and so much love through food that our refrigerator was busting at the seams.  


And then, at my follow-up, 
I was given a provision of 
great relief with a Stage 1A ,
 no further treatment needed.  

What a gift.

 
And that’s just this one little fraction of my life thus far.  And that’s a big life event.  In the midst of suffering, God was so clearly abundant.  He’s also in the midst of all my days.  

Mundane, acute, all of them.  

He provides a loving environment for my kids to flourish every day.  An amazing group of friends that I hold dear.  Family that makes me REALLY appreciate my friends.  (I kid….).  All of which I am so grateful for.
 

But…then I think.  

Even if my cancer outcome had been different. 
Even if I had never been able to bear children. 
Even if I was living in a box under a bridge. 
Heck, even without the box under a bridge….

God is still God and God is still good. 

  I need to keep reminding myself of this every time I don’t want to go to the oncologist for some unknown complication….when I don’t want to drive to yet another practice, when I really don’t want to make dinner again….when I see all my friends travelling over spring break, and I’m coveting their adventures….God is still providing for me.  God is still good.  He still provides.

 
And really the ONLY provision I need is Christ crucified.  That’s it.  Nothing else matters.  If I didn’t wake up from surgery, I would open my eyes to Jesus’ face.  Win.  If I lived through surgery (which, I did….spoiler alert), I wake to see loved ones God provided me.  Win.  In the midst of suffering, I had a win/win situation.  

What a gift.  

What mercy.  

What grace.
 
My church is what we call a “confessional Lutheran church.”  Mostly this means that every Sunday, together as a congregation, we recite a creed.  We have 3 to choose from, but mostly we recite the Apostle’s creed.  It’s a statement of faith.  Unwaivering.  The words are succinct and to the point.  And sometimes the repetition of it every week drones on, but it’s like the pledge of allegiance.  It unites.  So many churches all over the world are saying the same words.  The same beliefs.  

Martin Luther has authored a Small Catechism where he breaks down so many things into manageable bites and explains them.  The 10 commandments are in there, as is the Lord’s Prayer, Apostle’s Creed is in there, as well.  He breaks it apart and this is the first article…from the first sentence and its meaning:
 
 
The First Article
Creation
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
 
What does this mean?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.
 
He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.
 
He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.
This is most certainly true.
 
 

And this provision is truly all I need.  

Him.  

For me.  

His grace and mercy.  

What a gift.


Saturday, September 12, 2020

This space

How have I neglected this space for so long?

This used to be a great space.


My space.


My corner of the world to be snarky, sassy, honest, me.


Part of me looks back and wonders



Where have I gone?

Did I evolve? Change with the times?



Or have I forgotten myself?


Put joy on the back burner?


The fact of the matter is that 


I miss this space.


Maybe this will become a gift to myself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Respect

Hopper used to plow. When we first for married, he started doing it for extra money. And then, it just turned into a way to earn emjust enough to meet our medical deductibles. Then it became a bit too much, then a lot too much, then he just aged out.

Plowing is young man's work.

Hopper was called by his guy and asked to substitute plow for a night. He reluctantly agreed.

Because he knows it's hard on his body. It's hard on his brain.  It's hard on his regular work schedule. It's just hard.

But, he agreed.

Because, as a business owner,  he knows what it means to have unreliable labor. He knows what it means to want to maintain a good business reputation. So, he agreed.

To help a fellow business owner.

To help a friend.

To make some extra money.

So, as I'm setting the coffee pot to turn on at 2am, I prayed. For protection for this amazing man. For this man who doesn't think it's a big deal- what he's doing is daily work. It's just what he does.

But it's something I believe is worthy of admiration.

And respect.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Marriage and morning people

I'm married to a morning person

I am not not NOT a morning person.

To top it off, my morning person gets up at 4:45 am (yes, on purpose!) to get some paperwork done before he leaves for the day.

Every morning at 7am (ish), he comes to wake me up and kiss me goodbye. 95% of the time, I am still asleep when he comes in.

He's geared up for the day.

I am still semi-comatose.

Clearly, a great time to have a conversation! This morning went like this:

D: what's on your agenda today?

Me: mmmmmmpppppffffffff

D: are you working today?

Me: uuuuuuuummmmm think so

D: did you see the new football practice times? 9:30 to eleven and 3 to 5:30. You're helping JT at the 11:30 one, right? Are you doing all the others too?

Me: sooooooo many nuuuuuuumbers.

D: what are you going to do with the kids?

Me: we have kids?

D:  what's the tee time on the calendar? You going golfing?

Me: what day is it again?

......

Me (again): yes....the orthodontist guy has patient appreciation....thanks for all your money, here have a golf ball.

D: I love you, have a good day.
Me: love you too. (Rolls over and dozes)

(He, on the other hand, is packed up and off to save the world- one well built house at a time).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Counting mine {482-493}

482. Summer

483. Returned phone calls

484. Invitations to dinner

485. Gin

486. Fantastic nephews

487. Family pictures where the kids play along

488. Being able to host dinner

489. Employment

490. Facebook marketplace. (I'll never pay full price for anything ever again!)

491. Friends with pools

492. Sunscreen

493. Fireworks

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Not great news ...

So, my friends....please forgive my faux pas in delivering hard news via social media- BUT I am coveting your prayer. I had an endometrial ablation last week, and pathology reports are now back showing cancer cells in my uterus. 
So, what do we know? Well, not much. We are in this horrible waiting period between dropping the big C-bomb and a call from the oncologist.  I do know that I can expect a full radical hysterectomy and lymph node resections. From there, pathology will tell us the official grade and the best course of treatment.
What do we need? (Besides a return call!!) Prayer. Lots of prayer, and I'm always available for free hugs. ;)  Lots of grace for some high-emotion kids, and some safe support for my husband. I'm sure as this ball starts rolling, we will have PLENTY of needs, and we will not hesitate to ask. (This may be hard for me-please keep reminding me to ask).  But those that already know- thank you for showing the amazing community in the body of Christ. You are His hands and feet, and He is shining Light through you. Thank you!

This is scary, this is hard, but God is near.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Screen detox

So...here's where I lay myself vulnerable.

Here's where I show you a triumph.

I've been feeling quite convicted lately about screens. With our whole family in general, but especially with my kids.

What started as "background companion noise" when Adubya was a baby has turned into a full-blown lifestyle.

TV on all the time, 

tablets the go-to anesthesia.

Then MiddleC and LittleL had their tonsils out a month ago, and we hit deafcon 5 slothdom. TV was on all.the.time, charging cables were in every outlet.

You guys, it was bad.

Two weeks ago, we were taking Adubya to camp,  and I took the opportunity to plant a seed with the kids: I explained my concern about their behavior now, what it means for their future, and the sadness it brought me. 

They all actually thought about it.

We decreased screens quite a bit while Adubya was gone.  Then, the day we picked him up, we left for camping.

Sunday to Sunday my boy had gone without any screen. So, I decided....it was time.

Monday morning, the screens went silent.

We went Monday through Friday without any screen of any sort.

(Exception: my phone. I used it to contact people to make play dates and coordinate some of my commitments).

I'm going to do my findings in list form:

- With the exception of Monday morning,  every morning thereafter was blissfully silent. I came out to both boys reading on the couches. Now, if LittleL was up before me, I HAD to get up since she requires adult supervision,  but even toward the end of the week, Adubya was pouring her cereal, and MiddleC was reading her books. (Bless me!)

- Both boys made themselves goals to finish books. MiddleC finished 3, Adubya finished a long one and started on another. They both enjoyed reading these books, and were excited to tell me about what they were reading. (Not super exciting stufd, but they wanted to tell me, so I'll listen anyday!!)

-Errands were fun. Yep, you heard me....FUN. Why? Because no one was trying to rush me through anything to get back home to screens. At one point, Adubya said "yeah, let's try there too...we've got nothing but time..."

- The boys worked together. Monday, they came up with the idea of a cardboard fort. They put their money together to buy a roll of gorilla tape, asked me to drive them around looking for cardboard, and built a fort. This was not without artistic differences, mind you, but after a little FOB time, and a quick talk from mom, they quickly joined forces again and built a fortress.

- We had a total of 4 meltdowns this week. Four.  (Bonus! None of them mine! Ha!). You guys...coming off screens ends up in daily meltdowns from each kid. Multiple daily meltdowns for one specific kiddo.  Four. Blissful four. What a difference!!! (FOUR!!!)

- I stepped up my parenting game. I almost felt like a teacher: planning out our days ahead of time. I was careful to have a little bit of fun time with friends,  physical activity time, quiet time, and then unstructured play. I was present. I was engaged.  Guess what? I liked it. And I have some pretty amazing kids with some great things to say.

- I became an authority in their lives again. Not a problem with LittleL,  but with the boys, they had started untying apron strings on me. They were listening to their bloggers more than me- this week, they reengaged with me too. While they do listen to me, I think the dialogue changed this week. It was more open, honest, fun, and encouraging. 

- Chores got done. Timely and completely.  It was great! We did less chores at the beginning of the week, and kept life fun to encourage us to get to Friday. We did more and more toward the end of the week,  but they were motivated because there was the promise of ice cream and a movie on Friday night.

- We had fun. Structured and unstructured fun. Talking, swimming, laughing, board games, fun.


So, going forward, what does this mean?


Well, we're going to try to let them have some screens, but nothing close to where it was before.

I remember once,  a mentor of mine, Cheryl, called screens a theif.

She was right: they steal.

They steal attention, brain cells, time, parental control,  imagination.

I let that theif keep stealing things until I had little left to give.

No more.

So, we're going to try to do light screens for now, and if the meltdowns come back, if the time gets stolen, if the obsession returns, then they all go off.

For good.

And I'd be totally OK with that!