Tag Archives: cancer

Gone to My Happy Place, Be Back Soon!

I’ve adapted my own concept of a Happy Place. Leaving out the Zen, enlightened, and mystical schools of thought, I think of it as a place you visit in person and revisit in your mind to create tranquility in body, soul, and spirit.

happy place 025

(My favorite t-shirt  EVER bought by dear friend, Kirsti)

During hard times, you borrow from  past happy  to face present unhappy using

  • Memories
    • Pictures
    • Souvenirs
    • Scents
    • Tastes
    • Sounds

These things evoke a time and/or place  we felt loved, secure, and peaceful. It reminds us that life isn’t always hard, painful, and grievous. You soothe your heart and mind with what soothes you  best. It doesn’t take long, either. You look at a few pictures, listen to a song, or rub a smooth stone between your fingers.

My Happy Places are usually outside places.

Any place in Montana is a Happy Place. A sagebrush, Prickly Pear cactus, or a Ponderosa pine tree brings back the contentment and joy of a wonderful childhood. Because I was happy in Montana, Montana makes me happy.

Any crick (that’s "creek" to you non-Montanans) I can stick my feet in, no matter how quickly my toes freeze from the melted snow, is a Happy Place. Actually any place with water is a Happy Place. Let me clarify, outside water, not a flooding toilet or broken pipe,  kinda’ water.

Any place with rocks to pick can be a Happy Place. Not picking rocks out of fields like the farmers in North Dakota, but the "Look! I found an agate!" kinda’ rock picking.

My house is scattered with rocks, branches, sea glass, shells, and driftwood I’ve collected from waterside visits.

may31 421My daily Happy Place is my Jeep. In fact, that’s her name. When Scott and I celebrated our 20th anniversary I’d just finished my first year of thyroid cancer treatment, (surgery, radioactive iodine, and Hyper-Hell) and had suffered a miscarriage. He surprised me and bought my dream vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler.  I wasn’t thrilled because of the dream-come-true vehicle,  I was thrilled because I was married to a man who made my dreams come true.  He loved me and supported me through the hardest year of my life.  Climbing into my Jeep is like climbing into his love.  It surrounds me.  It keeps me safe. 

But, more than Montana, a mountain stream,  a beach full of agates, and more than my Jeep, there’s a more beloved place.

The Lord invited Moses up the mountain to talk with Him. Moses couldn’t look directly on Lord’s face, but Moses could hear His voice and be in His presence. The Lord told Moses,  “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”

It was holy because the Lord was there. I’m in awe that today we can still enter into the Lord’s presence.  We don’t have to follow any ceremonies, climb a mountain in sandals,  or enter a special building. Our faith in His Son gives us full access to the holy, mighty, Heavenly Father, anytime, anyplace.

I can be in His presence when I’m in Montana, wading in a mountain stream, picking rocks on a beach, or driving in my Jeep. 

I pray, He listens. 

I ask, He answers. 

I confess, He forgives. 

I weep, He comforts.

My Happiest Place is when I am in His presence.

Where are your physical, spiritual, and/or emotional Happy Places


The Lord’s Plan Unfolds

This is the second part of a tribute to my friend, Kari. It isn’t her complete life story, she was impacted by many friends and relatives she cherished.  It’s a small view into her world through my experiences, which at times are fuzzy with time and grief.  If you didn’t read part one, please go back and read:

And I almost killed her once.

Kari and I were thrilled to find each other again!  We later joked what others  thought to see two cars pull up to the thrift store, four people politely chatter as they merged toward the door, then two women suddenly bear hug.

Kari and Tony

She proved her hat wasn’t an adaptation to Montana fashion, where people aren’t  in style or out of style, you’re free to wear your own style. Standing on the sidewalk, she removed it and proudly showed me her scar where a brain tumor had been recently removed.

And she smiled while she told me about her cancer.

Her big “I can take on the whole world” smile. The “I have enough joy for the rest of you” smile.

We moved into the store, talking, laughing and sometimes shopping.   When it was time to part ways, we did what people did before cell phones. 

Kari's Address

I handed her the tiny black binder in my purse to write down her address.  I had no idea how precious this scrap of paper would become.

Our families spent a day at my parents’ cabin, swimming, snacking, climbing trees and enjoying Montana’s scenery. Kari and I talked non-stop.

We were in the same crowd in high school,  but each had our own closest friends. We filled in the gaps of the years. College years. Falling in love and staying in love. Becoming mothers; she had four kids, I had five at the time. I shared how I’d trusted Christ as my Savior. In all our conversations, intermingled our marvel at the Lord’s timing. The reason He’d spared our lives in high school was beginning to unfold.  It was for such a time as this.

Inevitably, we talked about high school. Regrets. Broken hearts. Tormenters. Friends.  Accomplishments.  She shared heartaches that made me admire her strength and joy anew. I regretted  not knowing or helping, worried she’d shouldered life alone. She assured me her best friends in high school had upheld her. The strength of their love and loyalty graced the rest of her life.

I shared my pain of moving from Helena and relived the stir I’d caused on the first day of 8th grade.  During registration, I’d walked across the gym, our entire class watching from the bleachers,  straight to the Industrial Arts table to sign up for shop. Since I already sewed my own clothes, did laundry, babysat and cooked meals for my family of eight, I didn’t need Home-Ec. I’d already had one year of woodworking at Helena Junior High, and was excited to move onto bigger projects. Following school policy, the teacher refused admission. When I was politely adamant and explained my reasons, he called in the principal and the superintendent for support. At that moment, I knew my career at that high school wasn’t going to be stellar.

“I remember what you were wearing,” said Kari. Her smile overcame the  chemo hair standing in tufts on her head.

“What?” I was consumed with my tale of discrimination and moving into the Dark Ages and she was consumed with my clothes.

She recounted my walk across the gym floor from her admiring point of view. “You were wearing gauchos and a yellow t-shirt with your name on. After that, I begged my Mom to drive me to Grand Forks to buy gauchos.”

When the summer of 1999 approached, Kari asked me to go to our 18th class reunion/ all school reunion with her. I said no. Actually I said, “NO WAY! WHY WOULD I DO THAT?”

High school wasn’t good to me.  For five years I was teased, my locker ransacked, books knocked out of my arms in the hallway. Lies were spread until I wondered who to trust. I got in trouble for things I deserved; I took the punishment for things I didn’t deserve.

Several teachers used me as their verbal punching bags, to a point where one student pulled me aside in the hallway and advised, “I think you should get a lawyer.” I thought movie caricatures of tormented high school kids could have been based on my life. Miserable, I tried to graduate early. The guidance counselor refused. I stuck out my entire senior year.

That same guidance counselor called me into his office that spring and asked me to give a graduation speech. I refused with the clichéd  laugh in his face. He was surprised because nobody had refused this “honor” before.

I had nothing to say and nothing to prove. I only wanted out.

He wanted to know why. “I don’t have anything to say to anybody,” was my answer based on my mom’s advice,  “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  My friend Chris, who had always dreamed of giving a graduation speech, was elated to be given the honor.

Kari wouldn’t give up. She wanted to go, but didn’t want to go alone. My selfish hoarding of bad memories was only broken when she finally said, “Mindy, I won’t make it to our 20th.”


(Kari is far left, middle row, in pink t-shirt)

Kari arranged for some of the class of ‘82  to meet at a home with spouses and kids. Later we joined the rest of the class downtown.

I was stunned when my greatest tormenter was the first to greet me with a hug. Three people said, “Oh, you graduated with us?” My impact on some of my classmates wasn’t as great as the impact they’d made on me.

With each conversation and renewed acquaintance, I replaced a bitter memory with a better memory.  I counted my tormenters to be fewer than my friends, they had only talked louder and made more of an impact. No, I had allowed them to make more of an impact. I also learned that those who inflicted the most pain probably hadn’t meant to. We all were suffering and surviving the halls of high school.

Over a pizza later, I admitted she was right to make me attend our class reunion. I thanked her for pushing me.

She smiled her Kari smile.  She knew all along she was right, and I was finally admitting it.

For me, the reunion was the beginning of a new beginning.  For Kari, it was the beginning of the end.

to be continued… 



Bald Women are Beautiful

In the noisy  drink shop, I leaned towards the woman in front of me and said near her ear, “Bald is Beautiful!”

She was a little surprised and emotions swirled on her face as she registered my comment, then turned with a smile and said, “Thank you.”

She truly was beautiful. And she was very bald.  We were in a mall in an area of fashionable and opulent people, where women monthly spend more money to tan and tweeze, primp and pamper, trim and accessorize than I spent on my first car.  She had the guts to dress up, put on lipstick and brave her baldness.

“Wigs are so uncomfortable, scratchy and warm in the heat,” I said. “I like seeing you going for comfort.”



(Photo used with kind permission from Bald is Beautiful website)

“Yea, my sons encouraged me to stop worrying about it and  just go natural.”

“Where are you at in your cancer treatment?” I asked. “I was just declared cancer free after ten years of thyroid cancer.”

With quivering lips and a catch in her voice she answered, “Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.  I’ve been fighting three and a half years.”

Her raw emotion illustrated the  truth my question made her face, again.  We both knew what she was really saying.  She has suffered for three and a half years through surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and medication. With Stage IV cancer, to suffer through treatment is to be alive. When the suffering is over, usually so is your life. I knew the statistics.

What do you say to the stranger who is standing in line who might die, knowing you’re going to live?

“What’s your name?  I’d like to pray for you,” I said.

“My name is Lynn,” she answered. She talked a little more about her cancer and ended with “and I just thank the Lord.”  Not many people talk about malignant cancer and thankfulness in the same sentence.

“Oh, are you a Christian?”

“Yes, I am,” my bald friend answered. “And I couldn’t have gotten through this if it weren’t for the Lord.”

“I agree,” I empathized.  “I’m a Christian, too, but I have the issue of Survivor’s Guilt.  I’m going to live and several of my friends have died.”

I almost couldn’t handle the words as I shared them with my beautiful new friend.

The lined moved forward and she placed her order. Then she turned back towards me, placed a hand on my arm and repeated, “I don’t know how people go through this without the Lord. It’s been so hard.”

“I know,” I agreed.  “I’ve learned so much about suffering and am thankful at the end of all of this all, we have eternal life. Life on earth is hard… and short…but then we get to go to Heaven.”

The teenage cashier joined in our conversation by asking Lynn, “Are you a Fighter or a Survivor?”  After Lynn answered, she explained, “My best friend has cancer, I take her to her chemo every Monday.” My heart ached for the young teen suffering through cancer, but felt thankful joy for the faithfulness of her loving friend.  Both would be forever changed by cancer.

The conversation continued as we moved through the line and when it naturally ended,  Lynn and I hugged in the line.  We knew we’d see each other again…in Heaven.

Since that day I’ve thought about this divine appointment many times, and when I think of Lynn I pray for her and her family. I pray she’ll be in that small percentage that survives this cancer.

Cancer changes everything.

It makes a 60+ year old woman baldly and boldly face  death sooner than she planned.

It makes a 49 year old  woman face life without the things ten years of cancer took from her.

It makes a teenager compassionate and engage in the conversation of a Fighter and a Survivor fellowshipping about cancer’s reality of life and death.

But going out in public bald is more than just a statement about defying social expectations of beauty.  Lynn probably had other conversations during the day that reminded her again and again –

She has Stage IV cancer,

          But, she has Jesus.

She may die from this cancer…

          But, she’s going to Heaven.

Lynn is facing malignant cancer with courage and faith.  She didn’t hesitate to share her joys and sorrows, and thanked and praised the Lord for His goodness to her.  In less than five minutes she made a profound impact on my life.


She was bald.

And she was very, very beautiful.


I received permission to use the above photo and logo from a website “Bald is Beautiful.” This is their mission statement:

Bald is Beautiful wants to help promote strength, empowerment, and beauty for people who are battling cancer.

​Bald truly is beautiful, and we are here to help spread the word. We are raising money that will not go into a “pot” but instead go to the people who are currently fighting this battle.

​We hope to bring joy, laughter, and hope that not all is lost, except maybe a little hair!

Click on the above image to find their site.  Click here to shop and here to read more true stories honoring very bald and very beautiful people.


Are You Battle-Scarred by Emotional Shrapnel?

As kids, we dreamed about becoming a cowgirl/cowboy, nurse, doctor, astronaut, movie star, rock star, inventor, race car driver or flight attendant. We dreamed about being beautiful, happy, and influential. We dreamed about traveling, building, and buying.

Nothing is impossible in a child’s dream world.

Graduation mottos told us, “If you dream it, you can achieve it.” We were told there was no limit to what we could accomplish. No was dream too high, no ambition out of our reach.

We approached adulthood and our dreams were tempered by reality, but the future was still exciting. We planned our careers, our weddings, our families and our homes.

Reality exploded unexpectedly under our feet when we stumbled into adulthood.

We painfully learned there are factors that limit our dreams, like our health, finances, families, our talents and abilities, and God’s will for our lives.

Adulthood surprised us, and in some ways, disappointed us.  I pictured adulthood as eating my desert first, staying up late reading every night, and spending my money on camera equipment and books. I never dreamed about  thyroid cancer, funerals,  a miscarriage, false accusations by Christians,  or watching an Innocent Man sentenced to jail for eight years.  I have friends who didn’t plan on being single, barren, divorced or dying at a young age.

Unexpected suffering infiltrates our lives and can make it hard to appreciate all the other blessings.


(made with Quozio)

We’re walking around wounded by shrapnel from situations out of our control.

It doesn’t take too long to end up being battle-scarred and weary.


Do you often wish you could take your words back?  Are you sharp, impatient, or cynical?  Are your words unintentional swords?  Hurting people hurt others.

Is there someone that you don’t hate only because you’re a Christian?  I’ve heard people say “The Lord tells me I have to love them, but I don’t like them.”  Yea, I know what they did, I have those people in my life, too, but we can’t allow them to keep damaging us by reliving their wrongs. 

What gives you nightmares?  What can’t you forgive?  What can’t your forget? What can’t you accept?

Remember how you used to run and show your Mommy your owies?  It’s time to run to your Daddy – your Heavenly Father.  Show Him where it hurts. 

Speak freely to Him in prayer. He knows the words before they’re on your tongue, so you might as well say it to His face, and not behind His back. Bring your brokenness and your tears to Him.  

Have you even felt that loving compassion when a hurting child runs crying into your arms? You do anything to soothe and help them. You never want them to leave your embrace.

Your Heavenly Father has His arms are outstretched and He’s longing for you to come to Him so He can hold you and make your owies all better.


Don’t go it alone. Find other people who have suffered in a similar way and have learned to endure with hope and joy.  They will provide the encouragement, wisdom, and the accountability you need.

The best thing a dear older brother said to me was, “Girl, you gotta’ get over it!”  He loved me enough to point out I was picking a wound that needed to heal.

There are radio programs, books, blogs, and magazines.  Christian ministries are devoted to very specific problems that prove you aren’t alone in your pain. 


Some shrapnel can be removed.  Apologies can be made, medicine can be taken, counseling can be received.  I  avoid women who gossip. I found a few that can be trusted.   I made changes to improve my health. 

I was surprised to learn that most physical shrapnel is left in by the doctors, because removing it can cause more damage to organs and nerves. The body naturally forms a casing of protection around it.

If a situation can’t be removed or changed, it still can be healed. We can’t make people apologize for the damage they’ve caused. We can’t bring the dead back to life. Some diseases can’t be healed and we suffer the side-effects from the disease and/or treatment. You have to accept this and move on in your healing.

The shrapnel should be surrounded by prayer, not just yours. The Word of God will also soften those shards of life exploding in pain around you. Turn TO Him, not AWAY.


Not many of us are living the lives we planned, but that doesn’t mean we can’t life a  fulfilled and purpose-filled live. Happiness is a choice, not a circumstance. 

(made with Quozio)

Circumstances  bring us to a place where the Lord wanted us. A move 1400 miles away brought me four blocks from a Christian writers group and great medical facilities  – two things I didn’t know I’d need.

Cancer taught me much about my suffering Savior and gave me a great understanding and compassion for others.  I don’t regret what the Lord allowed in my life.

image(made with Quozio)

Happiness is letting Him heal your emotional shrapnel.

I Don’t Have Cancer?!?!

Every six months I have a blood draw to check the status of my  cancer.  Once or twice a year I have a  sonogram to measure the tiny papillary thyroid tumors.

My second surgery to remove thyroid tumors was April 2009.  Doc took out two, three grew back in their place. My doctors ruled out another surgery or radioactive iodine treatment and instead increased my thyroid hormone to suppress Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in my body.  Any thyroid cell I have would be cancerous.  If the cells are stimulated by hormone, they grow.   I’ve been hyperthyroid for four years, hoping to starve the tumors to death.

My 6 month blood draws and sonograms  have shown progress.  I blogged about Teeny Weeny Tumors in December 2012.  The tumors were smaller and not giving off thyroid antibodies.

The reality is, there are no side effects from the cancer.  The tumors live quietly, minding their own business. The side effects from the hyperthyroidism are the challenge, and  greatly increased after recently being forced to switch thyroid hormone.

I’d been on Levoxyl  for 9 years, until it was  recently recalled and won’t be available again until late 2014. Doctors and pharmacists strongly warn anybody on artificial thyroid hormone to never, ever, ever, ever switch brands.

Now I know why.

blog moments 015 (3)

I switched to Synthroid.blog moments 017 (3)

This is the paperwork that came with the new med, listing all side effects, molecular structure and warnings. Look like something you wanna’ take? Me neither. Only I have this missing thyroid gland, so need artificial thyroid hormone in my body.

My symptoms increased greatly. Night sweats, sleeplessness. I can be tired all day, but wide awake during the night. I sleep about 5 hours, on a good night up to 7. Agitation.  Jumpy.  My kids have learned over the years to make a lot of noise when they walk up behind me.

At my recent endocrinologist’s visit to discuss the results of the recent blood work I described my adjustment issues with the new hormone. In conversation I used the phrase “my cancer.”

“You don’t have cancer.”

I looked at my doc in surprise.  After all, it’s been a ten year battle. She looked at me in surprise, as if I should have known.  I tried to remember what she said at our past visit.  Pretty sure I would have remembered being told I was cancer free.

“There are no thyroid antibodies and no thyroglobulin in the blood.  I’d say your cancer is gone.”

I should have been jumping.  I should have been overcome with joy. I was stunned. I was surprised she brought it up almost as if correcting me. To be cancer-free after ten years could have been announced with cake, ice-cream balloons and banners, not an afterthought conversation.

I almost doubted the news. Besides, my past two “cancer-free” times have only lasted a few months, so I was hesitant to get too excited.


It took me a few days to grasp in my medicated brain this is  GOOD NEWS! It took me even longer to fully grasp that the symptoms I’d been complaining about resulted in keeping the tumors from producing antibodies. It worked.

I look at those nasty pills a little differently. Would you rather have trouble sleeping or have cancer?  Yea, me too.

But, still, I argue with myself, it could come back.  It could come back in another form of cancer.  The artificial thyroid hormone could cause  bone problems as it depletes calcium from my body or cause heart issues.  If I look forward, I can cause myself undue worry and prove I don’t trust the Lord for His future plans.

If I look backwards at the ten year journey, I can remind myself of the hardships on my body and my family and prove I don’t trust the Lord for His past plans.

So, as many of us have learned through times of trials, we neither look ahead or back, we walk in the moment and look up. We may not understand His plans, but we are always in His presence.

Isaiah 4110


And today, as I walk with the One who is with me, strengthens me, helps me and upholds me, I don’t have cancer!!!


If you would like to read about the time I found the word CANCER in the Bible, read  Do YOU Have Cancer?

The Gifts of Cancer was written after being cared for by an encouraging, caring nurse named Judy.

Ten Things to Look for in The Perfect Man


For years I’ve joked with  single women, “You’ll never find The Perfect Man because I married him.”

My love for my husband grows and changes from year to year as we survive trials and tribulation.  They aren’t troubles within the marriage, they’re troubles outside we’ve weathered together. In fact, we’ve often joked that if the Lord had shown us the path we would  take together, we wouldn’t have gotten married.  Just joking, of course.  The truth is, life is hard for everybody, and going through life with someone who is your best friend and is there for you no. matter. what. is a joy and a privilege.

Years ago, my friend and her fiancé  took a test to see if they were compatible for marriage. They were asked questions about household chores, common interests, and expectations for future family. To me, it was shallow.

Who decides who’s going to do dishes before they’re married?

Life happens.  Some couples can’t have kids, others end up having more than they planned.  Other couples move and are exposed to new foods, interests and hobbies.  There are too many unknown factors to match up couples according to a simple list of physical things that will change.

The ideal is to  match the core of your ideals and ride the changes and hardships in life together. Choose a man who has a depth of faith and moral character that will endure for eternity.

Ten Things to Look for in The Perfect Man

Red heartThe Perfect Man loves the Son of Man more than you.  He is faithful to the Lord Jesus, His Word and His people. He actively uses his spiritual gifts to minister.  He should love the Lord more than you.


Red heartThe Perfect Man loves the real you.  There is no glass Cinderella slipper in his hand that you must fit into.  Yes, there are colors he  likes you to wear, or foods he wants to eat.  But, overall, he loves you for your passions, interests, and  beliefs. He wants you to become the woman the Lord created you to be, not the ideal mate he created in his mind.

Red heartThe Perfect Man loves you more than his possessions.  How does he react if you have an accident with something he owns?  When I dinged up our Suburban, my husband said, “It’s just sheet metal.”


Red heartThe Perfect Man loves the way you look, but his staying power isn’t dependent on your staying that way. Illness happens.  Babies happen.  Stress happens. I have two  6 1/2 inch skinny scars  that interweave across my neck like a macramé’ choker.  My husband  doesn’t see the imperfection, he sees the woman he loves. These blemishes don’t affect me, because they don’t affect him.


Red heartThe Perfect Man listens to you.  Yes, he needs to be reminded, he needs to be told more than once, after all the word MAN is still in that title, but overall, he listens to your words and understands the passion,  because he knows they come from your heart.


Red heartThe Perfect Man understands you come with baggage.  He’s willing to open up the baggage, help wash what’s inside and  repack it neatly.


Red heartThe Perfect Man knows when he marries you he marries the whole family. He won’t make you choose between him and them.  He doesn’t have to agree with their philosophies, approve of their life choices or enjoy all their activities.  He respectfully chooses to love them and be a part of the family because they’re your family.


Red heartThe Perfect Man is not afraid to ask for advice and is not too proud to act on advice given.  No person is an infinite fountain of wisdom, your life will always benefit from a man who is willing to seek out advice from others who are older and/or wiser.


roses and chocolates 001

Red heartThe Perfect Man blesses you when there is a reason and when there isn’t. I get flowers on Valentine’s Day and the First Day of School. But, I also have been given lovely gifts like an usual rock or a twisted piece of wood when my hubby was out hiking. When he went to the ocean for the first time on a business trip, he brought home a takeout box of white sand so I could share his experience.

roses and chocolates 009

Chocolate is always good, too.  It’s never about money, it’s about the thought.

Girls' Apt 045

Red heartThe Perfect Man will pass the Bed Pan Test. This is the final and hardest test to pass.

Many  men will buy flowers.

Many men will buy chocolates.

Not many men will hold a bed pan.

The Perfect Man  holds the bed pan while you puke your guts out.Then he’ll wipe your mouth, give you a drink of water, and not care that your breath stinks.  That’s what my man did eight years ago when I went through my first round of thyroid cancer.

The Perfect Man grows more perfect through trials, clinging to the Lord for His strength and  wisdom. He endures poverty and riches, sickness and health, joy and sorrow with the same faith and joy. Because His love for the Lord endures, His love for you will endure.

Not all marriages will require a bed pan, but all couples will endure trials together. Many marriages end during cancer. Other marriages are destroyed while dealing with a prodigal child, a miscarriage, death of a child or financial troubles.

The bed pan signifies the commitment of a man determined to stick out his faith and his marriage, by the grace of God,  at any personal cost during every trial.  He’s willing to sacrifice for his bride, because He loves the One who gave up His life for His bride. How men handle frustration and trials will tremendously affect your marriage.

So, that list you have in your Bible.  C’mon, single girls, admit it.  I know THE LIST is in  there, that’s where I kept mine. Take it out right now and add one more thing:

“Must be able to pass the Bed Pan Test.”

And next time you look into the eyes of the young man you’re swooning praying over, if you’re confident he could hold a bed pan,  he just might be The Perfect Man. 



Why I Lie

Women lie. It’s as simple as that.

A man might walk up to another man and say, "Wow, you’ve lost a lot of hair since I saw you last!" or "I think you’ve put on a few pounds in the past year, right?"

Women don’t want to hurt someone with the truth.

If a woman asks, "Do you like my haircut?" we feel obligated to think of something good to say. Even if she shaved her head and dyed the other half purple with orange spikes, we feel we have to say, "It’s so CUH-UUUUU-ET!" or "It looks so good on you!"

In my early 20’s, I was studying the Bible and was convicted about being honest with women, no matter the cost. I couldn’t lie to make someone feel better about anything in their life, especially their sin. So, I asked the Lord to give me gracious boldness to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

In the bathroom the next Sunday morning, a friend caught my eyes in the mirror and asked, "What do you think about my makeup?"

Instantly, I knew the Lord was providing an opportunity to test my conviction. I paused and she prompted me for an answer. The color didn’t match her skin tones and was so bright, it stood out in an unattractive way. Very quickly I blurted out, "I think the lipstick is a little too bright."

Like I’d slapped her, she pulled her head back, opened her eyes wide and said, "The lipstick is the same, I meant the eye makeup."

I mumbled something complimentary about the eye make-up, which was attractive, encouraged her to choose a lipstick that matched those tones better, not backing down from my original statement of truth.  When we parted, I felt we were still friends, but I was pretty sure she’d never ask my opinion again.

Since then, I’ve had too many opportunities to speak the truth, but I’ve learned to be more graceful and tactful.



(snipped from Dictionary.com)

People don’t always want to hear the truth.

Asking "How are you?" can be a social obligation, not a friendship-building moment of intimacy.

I try to be honest. I feel like a liar when I answer "FINE" but I’m not fine. It’s the socially acceptable answer, but it isn’t always true, and twinges my conscience. Not everybody wants to hear the true story, but I don’t want to lie.

Going through cancer, I soon realized many don’t want the whole story, some don’t even want the highlights. Discerning when to vent and when to give the expected answer was a necessary coping skill. But, part of me rebelled. I wanted to ask, "Why do you ask how I’m doing if you really don’t want to hear the answer?"

I re-tried my honesty is best policy when the grocery cashier asked how I was doing. I said, "Not too good, I’ve had a headache all day." She was stunned into silence. She was so silent, it made my husband uncomfortable.

"Why did you say that?" I explained my new honest policy and he said, "Well, maybe you didn’t have to be that honest." He understands the awkward "how are you" dilemma perfectly and wanted to spare me future pain from my honesty.

Another time my honesty policy had a negative effect I was going through cancer treatment. Someone asked empathetically how I was doing, and I thought the scepter to speak was extended, so I offered a few stresses of the current situation. When I saw him fidgeting, losing eye contact and edging backwards down the stairs, I knew I’d gone too far. I reeled in the rest of my sentence and sincerely thanked him for asking.

The other day at Costo I was very tired after trying to navigate a full cart through a packed store. Navigating the big cart with the perpetual wayward wheel is always hard, but insomnia and  nerve damage in my arm make it more challenging. The damage is not a physical 9 on a scale of 1-10 with pain, but a gnawing ache that fatigues. I don’t quit Costco when I’m done, I quit when I’m tired. The too cheerful clerk came over and began helping me load the groceries onto the moving conveyor belt. Thankful for the help, I snagged the light items and left the heavy items to her youthful strength.

I knew it was coming.

I battled emotionally within. Truth or lie? Truth or lie?

"How are you doing?"

I opted for honesty. "I’m tired," I said as I lifted a tiny thing of cinnamon instead of the case of black beans.

Her smile increased. "Well, that’s good."

I was too tired to be offended. Maybe she had a lot of her mind. Maybe she had personal struggles. Maybe she was suffering from insomnia. Maybe, maybe, maybe I shouldn’t have been honest.

I waited for the second test from the exit door attendant, a white-haired man with one of those friendly mustaches that smiles.

While counting the items on my receipt and the items in my cart, he asked me, "How’s your day, dear?" My emotional sensory detector was still on stun mode so I lied. "I’m fine." He checked my receipt, looked me full in the face and said warmly and sincerely, "Have a nice day, dear."

Two strikes. I told the truth to someone who wasn’t listening, I lied to the man who would have cared.

For the rest of the day, I argued with myself through this spiritual and emotional dilemma. Tell the truth or tell a lie.

"It’s not really a lie if I say FINE when I am tired or have a headache. Spiritually I am always fine because It Is Well With My Soul."

Then I waffled the other way, "It’s not the truth because I am not fine. And, maybe people would learn to listen if I always answer truthfully instead of offering what they expect to hear."

With the hymn humming through my soul that day and the next, I came up with my new truthful answer that wouldn’t bother my conscience.

The next time someone asks, “How are you?” I will answer,

"I am well!"