Monthly Archives: April 2009

Beka’s Sermon

Beka often writes love letters to me. She thoughtfully slides them under my door, hides them in my purse and delivers them in envelopes like “real” mail. She senses when I need comfort and encouragement.
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Last Sunday during the sermon, she could see by my face that I was in some pain. One wave of pain brought tears to my eyes and purpose to her heart. One by one, she passed her notes of printed love and encouragement.
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Her “sermon” is the one that stayed with me all week, giving me affirmation to a spiritual conclusion I had come to earlier in the month. I had been gently grieving in my heart that Rebekah has never known me well. My first bout with thyroid cancer was in 2004/2005, when she was about 2 years old; she has grown up with a sick Mommy.
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Then, I quickly repented.
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Haven’t I rejoiced in the ways the Lord has blessed me through cancer?
Haven’t I cherished His presence so much that I haven’t begrudged the trial?
Haven’t I been allowed to grow in faith?
Haven’t I felt the Scriptures come alive as I learn to understand the purpose of suffering?
Shouldn’t I be thankful that she is being raised by the “new, improved me”?
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Hasn’t Rebekah also been blessed in the same way?
Hasn’t her character and her faith been tested and allowed to mature in ways other young children haven’t been blessed to experience?
Her wisdom and her strength surpass her years.
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First, she tried to make me smile by drawing me kinda’ upside down.
Giggling, she quietly explained she did this on purpose,
not wanting me to think that at 6,
she didn’t know the eyes should be above the smile.
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Then, she turned spiritual, reminding me who to turn to.
“Jesus”

Next, she was factual.
She drew in my scar.
“Scar”
Remember, she’s in kindergarten.
She spells funeticlee.
I’ll translate.

She told me what to do.
“Be Happy.”

She told me what not to do.
“Do Not Cry.”

Then, she gave me a promise.

“Jesus will heal you, Mommy.”


Psalm 8:2 “Out of the mouth of babes…you have ordained praise…”

The REST of the story

My neighbor, Kelly-Across-the-Street, just wrote her version of the Kelly and Mindy’s Most Horriblest, Wonderfulest Day. You will love reading, as Paul Harvey used to say, the REST of the story.

Today Kelly and I enjoyed playing and weeding together and taught the kids how to play with rolypolys. Once Norah fell over and it was so cutely sad to see her like a little tiny beetle, not able to get up. I am not laughing at her misery, but laughing that no matter what she does and what position she finds herself in, she is adorably Norah. But, she is managing well and we are thankful to see her adjusting to using her left hand for coloring, for patting, for eating.

I had shared with Kelly the wonderful answers to prayer concerning the lump of cancer the Lord allowed the surgeon to see and the lump He allowed Him to feel, so I assured her we would pray very specifically for the healing of Norah’s arm; for no infection, no long-term damage and that all would go well in the weeks she needs to be casted.

Tomorrow is Sunday, then it is Monday.

Wondering what the day will bring,
with the past two Mondays involving
hospitals….

Guess I’ll just keep PRAYING.

Answered Prayer

The other morning I was so overcome with the beauty and the preciousness of answered prayer that I wept. I had been rejoicing in the news since Monday, but the perfectness of how the prayers were answered didn’t strike me until a few days later.

I had a quick visit with Dr. M. on Monday, because I was concerned with my healing. It seemed a little red and warm to me and I was concerned about infection. He was gracious enough to fit me in for a quick exam in between his heavy load of patients. I graciously made it to his office after dealing with a bleeding cat and a neighbor’s broken arm.

He assured me my scar was fine, then handed me a piece of paper with the final surgery results. He told me that in addition to the 5mm tumor they recovered, he also found ANOTHER tumor that, when sent away, tested in the lab as thyroid cancer.

I was amazed. I asked him, “How did you find the first lump?” He had earlier cautioned us that he might not be able to find the lump that was only the size of a BB and was in the tissue behind the right jawbone. We had asked many, many faithful saints to been praying.

“I just saw it.”

It was JUST what we prayed, that the Lord would open his eyes.

I asked him. “How did you find the second lump?”

He answered, “I felt it.”

It was JUST what we prayed, that the Lord would guide his hands.

However, he did tell me that because there was a tumor that DIDN’T show up on any of the tests but was found during surgery, he couldn’t guarantee that he found all the cancer. He again wished out loud that he could be perfect. We are satisfied for now. We have really learned that this cancer journey is going to be like any other walk by faith, it is going to be step by step.

I am also thankful to report that the pain has subsided to a very tolerable level. On Sunday I was very uncomfortable and asked the Lord to either reduce the pain or give me the ability to endure. I didn’t like that feeling about thinking only about myself, as I become concerned about the pain. On Monday, the pain was reduced to a level that is tolerable, and I began functioning normally and resumed all normal activities.

In reflecting about the specific answers to very specific prayers, I was struck with the utter humbleness of this all. The Mighty God of Heaven, the Maker and Ruler of the Universe, the Father of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, saw fit to answer prayers on my behalf. I am so undeserving.

I am further humbled that hundreds of saints, connected through telephone calls, emails and voiced prayer requests in churches around the United States, would pray for MY healing. This humbles me beyond words.

Even as I write, I am weeping at the goodness of God.

I’m even more amazed that the Scriptures teach of that is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Romans 2:4 It isn’t that God will strike us down to bring us to Him, He pours out His goodness and love to draw us closer to Him, whether we need grace unto salvation or grace for growth.

Thank you, dear praying saints. you have upheld me. By your prayers I am healing.

“Father God, I rejoice in the fact that you care enough about your people to hear and answer our prayers. I thank you for opening the eyes of Dr M. to find one tumor and I thank you for guiding his hands to find the other tumor. We rejoice, Father, we adore you, we love you. In Your Lovely Son’s Name, Amen.”

Kelly and Mindy’s Most Horriblest, Wonderfulest Day

Monday morning my husband kissed me good-bye on his way to work and wondered outloud if I was going to be all right for the day. My parents were back in Montana and he was going back to work. I was only one week out of surgery and he was worrying a little about me. I told him I would be fine.
Isn’t that what we always say? FINE? And isn’t it usually never fine?
Rebekah had learned to cook eggs that morning, so we enjoyed a peaceful breakfast, eating and chatting leisurely. Before I knew it, there were rumors of blood and shrieks and the general turbulence of noise that crescendos whenever anything remotely interesting is happening around my house.
My quiet child, Gracie, came screaming up the steps. “Mom, our cat is dying! There is blood everywhere!”
Bethany complained, “There’s blood all over my bed!” The child who had just painted her walls light blue and purchased all white bedding had a valid complaint.
Jon added to the commotion. “Oh, yea, I saw blood all over downstairs this morning, too.”
I was wondering why this revelation was a P.S. added into a conversation and wasn’t the morning headlines. Slightly sarcastically I asked, “So why didn’t you feel that was something that should be made known earlier?” I lectured a little more on those mommy things like germs, responsibility, and vented whatever other steam needed to be released.
He shrugged and said, “Well, I wiped some of it up.”
Meanwhile, I had a cat who was bleeding and a bunch of kids who were panicking. They had determined that the blood was coming from the end of the tail, but I didn’t wasn’t sure what to do. But, I knew who would – my bestest neighbor, Kelly-Across-The-Street. I call her this in a fond remembrance of a childhood friend named Curt-Across-The-Street. She has two young kids, a dog and her dad was a doctor. Somehow I knew she would know what to do. Young Moms always have great ideas. They are fresh in their parenting and in their formulations for solving all problems. Old Moms are tired.
Before I even had finished my second cup of coffee, I was on a knowledge quest. I knocked on her door and told her I needed some free advice. I described the cat’s tail, not really admitting that I also didn’t want to pay a vet bill if I could avoid it.
“I actually know what to do! I had this happen to a cat of mine once,” was all I needed to hear. She brought out Steri-strips and described how we needed to shave the tail, disinfect and tape the skin back together. While I was there, I made her look at my stitches, too, asking for her advice if she thought I looked infected. I was still very sore and red and the skin on the right side of my body felt like a sunburn, It was sore to the touch and when you did pressed down, it left behind white fingerprints. She agreed that I should probably try to get into my surgeon before the scheduled appointment on Thursday.

How could I have parented for almost 22 years without knowing about these cool things?

Feeling bolstered with her knowledge, I went back across the street, handed the tape and the job off to the squabbling kids. But, with every twitch of the tail, blood splattered all over the dining room, the window, the rug and the kids. I had to go into my room and call my doctor, so I left them alone. They came in on occasion, wondering if they could give the cat any of my Percostat, wondering if they could use the haircutting scissors, wondering if they could use Neosporin. I said No, Yes, Yes, and made an appointment for 3:30pm.

Since Grace used to want to be a nurse, she had to do most of the shaving and repairing.

When the cat was finally shaved and bandaged, not sure if it looked as Kelly had instructed, we let him go, began disinfecting the house, soaking clothing and blankets in cold water, and thought we would enjoy a peaceful lunch.

Jon came to me, begging to take a shower before lunch. He said, “Mom, I look like a Civil War surgeon!” He did, and for once I didn’t have my camera to capture the moment and illustrate his very home-schooled description of his condition.

Beka asked if she could play outside for a few minutes while I made lunch.

Did I say peaceful? The next cry was from Rebekah.

“Mom, little Norah fell off the ledge at her house and broke her arm.”

I hurried across the street, following the sounds of a very distraught little girl. I met Kelly at her front door. She holding a crying child and a diaper bag with a confused look on her face. My extremely capable neighbor, the mother who teaches me things, looked so sad and said, “I don’t know what to do.” A hurting child can do that to a mother, the ache for them is so great, you lose your ability to focus on anything else but their heart-wrenching cries.

I held little Norah while she administered Tylenol and called the pediatrician. Because the break was near the elbow, he directed us to the emergency room. We spent several hours together, doing the things Moms do in times like this, chatting and entertaining a precious little one who is suffering a great deal. I thought it sweet that Norah’s favorite toy was also from Build-A-Bear, an adorably fuzzy gray cat she calls Miss Kitty. She cuddled her all day and made me wish I had brought my monkey.

By 3pm, it was determined that Kelly needed to take Norah to Children’s Hospital.

As we parted in the hospital parking lot, I hugged Kelly and told her it was the best day of my life and the worst. It was the worst because we survived several tragedies, although the kitty tail was awfully unimportant compared to Norah’s precious little arm, but we rejoiced that we were together. We were true neighbors and true friends.

It reminded me of the time, several years ago, when that House-Across-the-Street was sitting empty, and my heart was so lonely I thought I could die. I prayed and prayed for whoever would buy that house and I determined we would be friends, whether the wife wanted to be my friend or not. I knew I needed someone. But, the Lord knew that Kelly needed someone, too. She moved from the other coast with her hubby and two very little kids and was as lonely as I was. It was Friendship at First Sight. Within days, we were in and out of each other’s homes and lives and have shared a great friendship. Today was proof. As we hugged in the parking lot, we both rejoiced in that knowledge that we didn’t have to walk those hard days alone.

Because, I have Kelly-Across-the-Street.

To read her version of the Most Horriblest, Wonderfulest Day click here.

Little Brookie Cheers Up Gramma

One of the biggest blessings about being a mommy, is that eventually you can turn into a Gramma. A Gramma enjoys all the good things about motherhood, without the responsibility and the financial commitment. Our daughter Jana brought hubby and baby home to help take care of me after my surgery. Brookie was a LOT of help. She entertained me by trying on the shoes by the front door…..anything left out is fair game for a Shoe Fashion Show. (Yesterday, her Mommy was trying to leave the house, but was having a hard time finding a PAIR of shoes. Apparently, Brookie had Cinderellaed them around the house.)

She fixed things for her poor, recovering Gramma. I guess she is so used to watching Grandpa fix things, she’s learned to fix things herself.

She comforted Grandpa.
But, can’t you just hear her thinking, “My, what a big face you have!”
I remember the days when my little Jana looked just like her precious little Brookie. After staring at her adorable little face all day, there was always an adjustment when Daddy came home and I had to look in his large, over-sized face! A good-looking face, of course, just super-sized from what I had been gazing at all day.
She warmed my heart by showing me how much she loves her Mommy. I know Brookie loves me; she sometimes sits still long enough for me to snuggle her, she talks to me on the phone, she plays with me, and she kisses me. But the truth is, the beautiful truth is, she has always loved her Mommy more.
This is a good thing! As a newborn baby, she didn’t know that I was FAR more experienced, that I had changed WAY more diapers, and that I had comforted babies for hours upon hours. When she cried, she wanted HER Mommy. That natural love builds such confidence in a young Mom! There has never been any competition, only a beautiful generational binding. Brookie needs her Mommy. When Brookie’s Mommy needs her Mommy, I am here.
I adore this precious, time honored tradition. They say red roses are the flowers that say LOVE,
but I think DANDELIONS speak the love language much more significantly.
Brookie’s chubby little legs can’t get her to her Mommy fast enough to bestow her love offering into waiting heart and hands. Over and over she picked and trotted over to someone she loved, mostly her Mommy.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in Truth.” 3 John 1:4
Jana, Aaron, Baby Brookie and Baby #2
We love watching our daughter’s family grow in size and in faith.

After shooting family pics for a few moments, while Brookie fussed and looked away, she suddenly decided she wanted to be a model. She posed and smiled and giggled and gave us some great shots.
So while she giggled, played, kissed and loved through the visit, she gave me another reason to continue praying for healing and strength.
Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren are the crown of old men…” I guess this includes old women, too. If Brookie is my crown, then the title Gramma is one of royalty.
And, doncha’ think my sceptor should be a bouquet of dandelions?

On the Lighter Side of the Scar

A few weeks ago my son Jon was a little more excited about the upcoming surgery than I actually was.

He enthusiastically commented, “Yea, cool, mom, so are you nervous? Like they are going to go in there and slash you open and look for the cancer.”
I bit my tongue, for about five seconds, then calmly informed Jon that I was his mom and I loved him and I didn’t take offense, but warned him against speaking that way to any other cancer/surgery patients. Not sure if he got it.
My husband, Scott, was a little more dramatic when I first removed the cool white foam neck brace thing and dared look at the scar.
“Wow, you look like you got ripped open with a chain-saw!”
He did have a clever come-back later, when we discussed the probability of future surgeries. “Hey, they should have just put in a zipper, so instead of another surgery, we could just zip it open, take out the cancer and zip it back shut.” Why didn’t my doctor think of that?
This morning during coffee break my always-laughing friend Betty admired my scar and said,
“They really sliced you open this time!”
It really was fair game. When she came to church with a band-aid on her nose covering the spot where they removed skin cancer I glibly asked her if she cut herself shaving.
I guess we’re even.

I loved the saying on this framed text in an antique store.
Not enough to buy it, just enough to photograph it.
By the way, I saw this two weeks before I found out my cancer had returned.

Hospital Souvenirs

Since I only was in the hospital for about 30 hours, and they didn’t want the door to hit me on the way out, I wasn’t able to garner as many cool souvenirs as I had hoped. SIGH.

But, I am thrilled to report I did get that lovely bottle of lotion I was eagerly anticipating, the cool name bracelet, earplugs, my own toothpaste (did you know they make it in clear gel?) and

TWO, not ONE, pairs of those hospital socks.

 
My most prized gift was the bottle of Carra Free unscented Odor Eliminator that Neutralizes Biological and All Airborne Odors. In other words, they were trying to cover up the smell of my projectile you-know-what. What timing, to puke just as the family was standing at the door. Beka was liberally spraying the room while pinching her delicate nose shut. I could see the flaring nostrils of everyone else in the room, while they smiled through clenched teeth.

Dear John, my evening shift nurse, graciously cleaned up mounds of bedding, clothing, and rubber pillows, the bed frame, the floor and I think even the walls. Not sure. I was too embarrassed to look. He was so gracious and kind and didn’t even plug his nose.

He did make me promise to not tell his wife that he knows how to make a bed. I promised to not tell her, I didn’t promise to not tell blog readers.

 


Flowers are always a big benefit of being sick.


My sister-in-law Nita and niece Lydia sent me this adorable Momma Monkey and Baby Monkey and a homemade bar of soap named “Monkey Farts.”
Guess what it smells like?
No, not that, coconuts and bananas, what else?
 

The right side of my incision goes a little farther and has a little hole at the end where the drainage tube was. EEWWWW. I don’t like icky stuff. I had to wait five days to take the picture after it healed somewhat ‘cuz it grossed me out.
 

The left side looks like a Charlie Brown zigzag smile. They say when they make a scar, they make it a little crooked so it eventually blends in with the neck wrinkles.
How wrinkled do they think I plan on getting?


Aw, look at me, with my built-in choker.


After Beka got used to the scar, she had news for me.

“You know what it looks like Mom? Let me show you!”

She dug around in the scissors drawer until she came back with this pair of scissors and held them up triumphantly. Later on, she asked me if the doctor used scissors to open up my neck.

I know what SHE is thinking!
 
I am getting used to the scar. I am getting used to turning my whole body to turn my head. I am getting used to the fact that I am, once again, slower and weaker. What has been hard to deal with is the trauma to the nerves. I don’t remember having this with my first surgery, maybe I didn’t have it at all, maybe I recovered more quickly. I also stayed in the hospital longer, was on stronger meds longer, so maybe I just didn’t feel it. But, my right ear, the right side of my face, my right shoulder and radiating down has a burning, numb feeling. My ear feels like it was burned to a crisp during a too-long-of a day at the beach. It hurts to the touch. I am praying for healing, and I ask for your prayers. The pain ranges only from a 2-3 on a scale of 1-10, but it is a constant sensation.
 
 

It reminds me of a conversation I had in the middle of the night with my angel nurse, Janae. The Lord provided one of His sweetest saints to minister to me hour by hour the night I was in the hospital. I wonder if she really was a nurse, or if she was a real angel. As we were joking about my long, ugly scar, and she encouraged me to wear it proudly because I was alive.

 
 

I told her that I didn’t have the same kind of trials that the Apostle Paul had, mine aren’t as great, but I have adopted his attitude. “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:17). I told her I considered my scar to be one for the Lord Jesus Christ, because He allowed the cancer and I wanted to bring Him glory through the cancer.

 
 
 
She smiled and reminded me of something else of Paul’s life, that he asked three times for the Lord to remove the thorn and the Lord said no. (2 Corinthians 12:7) As we continued to talk about the Lord we both loved, I knew the Lord was speaking to me through this angel nurse. I was so thankful for this blessed fellowship in the middle of the night, in the middle of a dark hospital room, where I was surrounded with sounds of sickness and unhappiness and had mistakenly thought, for a few moments, that I was all alone.
 
 
 

Through each stage of this cancer journey I have had to lift up my expectations to the Lord and let Him work as He sees fit. I thought after suffering so nicely for Him the first time, I would be done. I thought that I suffered so nicely the second time that He would heal me. I guess I forgot to ask for no pain. I guess I thought I could suffer only under my terms. I have to repeatedly offer each part of my heart, body and mind to the Lord and let Him truly work as He sees fit.

 
 

If He asked me if I was willing to trade the cancer for a little pain, wouldn’t I have said YES? But, He doesn’t ask, because I had already told Him I want to walk by faith, I want to be His, I want to bring Him glory, I want to win souls, I want to be like Him. Why did I offer these valiant prayers with formulas attached?

 
 
 
Yes, pray for my healing. The pain isn’t horrible, but the constancy of it can be draining. I find it hard to not think about how I feel all the time. Instead of now trying to rejoice even though I have the emotional trial of carrying around cancer in my body, now I have the physical trial of the pain it cost to remove the cancer.
 
 
 

But, there is always somebody worse off than ourselves, isn’t there? I haven’t had chemo, I haven’t had radiation,; to some dear cancer sufferers I am barely in the throes of suffering. You may think what you are going through is nothing because you don’t have cancer. We must never measure our trials against someone else’s, only against the purpose the Lord has to refine us.

 

I Peter 1:6, “We greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through many trials.” For every trial there is a need a “need be” tailored to fit you.

 
 
 

I remember in the middle of one sleepless night, where I was communing with the Lord, and asking Him why He allowed the cancer to continue  indefinitely. I went through almost three years of testing with lumps and stuff in my blood, but they were never able to give me a conclusive diagnosis that I did or did not have cancer. The still small voice that broke through the darkness to answer my wondering heart, “That patience may have its perfect work.”

 
 
So, dear friend, whatever you are going through, let the voice of the Lord speak to you, that “Patience may have its perfect work.”