God is Good...Thanksgiving 2015

As I sit here in my chair at 1:32am, unable to sleep for too many reasons to count, I find that it is in these quiet moments of solitude that I can see all of my reasons to be thankful…and not just on this one day of the year that the country pauses to gorge themselves on food and football, but every day of the year. God is Good

This year I celebrate and give thanks for the many miracles we have been able to witness through the trials of this Fall. In the midst of a cancer diagnosis and the unknown results of a major surgery to remove that cancer, we have seen time and again, God move in ways that none of us have been able to imagine. While we are not yet out of this season of trial, we are still able to see God move and bring each of us to the “spacious places” (Psalm 118), where is continues to minister to each one of us right where we are at in that moment. God is Good.

Looking back, in the immediate past, I was afforded the tremendous luxury to going to a conference for Women’s Leadership in Nashville, Tennessee. The 3 days of the conference were literally life changing. God used those days to pull me closer in to Him. He showed me what true ‘leaning in’ was supposed to look like, and began to give my heart the true and full vision of what ministering to women, not just in my church, but in the rest of the world, was to look like. It was in those sweet days, in the in between moments, where He showed me what “walking worthy” was to look like in my life (Eph. 4). He was ever present in a way that I needed Him to be more than ever. I fact, there were many moments that I felt Him and heard Him, very clearly say to me, “Here I am…let go of your fear and let’s go!” There is a post for another time – but I was given a clear vision of moving forward (my “stepping into the Jordan” moment. Joshua 3). It was thrilling on so many levels. God is Good.

On that same trip, I was blessed to be able to stay an extra day and visit with some very sweet friends, who have really become like our family over the years. They are those rare people who come along every so often, and they know you, and your heart. They pray with you, rejoice with you, grieve with you, just do life with you. They have been in Nashville for 3 years, and we miss this horribly. To be able to spend hours just talking and catching up was the sweet balm that my soul needed. God knew that and He provided in a HUGE way over those 18 hours. God is Good.

We were able to celebrate our sweet grandson’s 1st birthday in a ‘Suessical’ fashion. Being able to not only watch him grow, but to be an active part of his life, has been the sweetest of blessings. To watch as he now knows fully who we are, and that is a good thing in his eyes, melts my heart on a daily basis. I honestly never knew how much my heart could love until I had a child…that is magnified tenfold with a grandchild. God is Good.

While my business has been slow to get going, it is not for a bad reason that has been the case. I have been blessed to be called into ministry service this year as the leader of our church’s Women’s Ministry. While I would love to be able to devote some more time to the business (and the Rocket Scientist and I are working that out as far as when and where time gets devoted), I am blessed beyond measure to serve these ladies and look to a future when God has us serving outside of the church doors as well. God is Good.

Even though Snigglefritz & Me isn't where I thought it would be at this point, I was blessed to be chosen as the community leader for a nationwide group of creatives. We have the only Pursuit Community here in Tucson and I'm thrilled to be a part of it and honored that they selected me to bring together the many creatives in our community who desire to have Christ in the center of all they do. To inspire community over competition. God is Good

 

In spite of 3 pretty significant medical procedures/surgeries this year – healing has been swift and life resumed it’s normal pace quickly following each. No complications and only the desired outcome for each! God is Good.

 

 

We have been overwhelmingly blessed to see the addition of 2 new pastors at our church. For different reasons entirely, we have become close to, and blessed by each of them. It has been a true honor to get to know all of our staff better and better over the past several months. Indeed, we are blessed as a family by these men and women, and our church body is blessed as well. I am excited to see where 2016 takes u as a church with this amazing leadership! God is Good.

Going back to the Nashville trip, and not all people will see this as a blessing (many will think I’m crazy – that’s ok), during several moments at the conference I felt the nudge to get out of my service comfort zone. Over and over it was repeated that “you are responsible for your own development as a leader in your family, in your church and in your world.” Multiple times I heard that, in leadership, you need to get out of the US to serve. The tugging has been constant. While I don’t know when, certainly right now God has not said ‘go’, I do know that it seems my heart is being pulled in a very big way, towards Asia – specifically India (ironic, since these are the people with whom I had much interaction with when I was in my last corporate job). This prospect doesn’t scare me – it excites me in a way that I have never felt before about missions (save for our single days in Mexico). God is Good!

We have been blessed to see babies born and rejoice with those families. Blessed to be a part of friend’s lives as they walk through losing a loved one: coming alongside of them in prayer, in tears, in laughter and in the reality of the beauty that their loved one immediately experienced as soon as they passed. God is Good.

Yes, this year we have been blessed over and over again. In ways both seen and unseen.

So…on this day, when we gather around our tables with friends and family, may we all take a moment to recognize the incredible blessing of, not only the table before us, but the table of life. May we each see in our daily lives the fullness of that table before us, filled with all of the blessings and goodness God has to offer. May we savor each moment, treasure each memory, store each minute in our hearts. May we fully understand that, in the midst of good or bad times, illness or health, happiness or grief, that the God Who sets the table before us is, indeed, good…all the time.

In Plain English, Please...

Hi to anyone reading this...here is a little bit of a peek into the journey...

Before and after our son’s diagnosis and surgery we have all had a lot of people ask exactly what was going to happen, or what did happen.  It is so hard to explain it in a way that doesn’t scare people or have them thinking it is far worse (don’t get me wrong, it is bad – just not like what you can allow your head to imagine – believe me, I know because we did let our heads wander – and we never told any of the others!). After a while our family becomes exhausted trying to not only explain, but then to keep our minds focused on not breaking down each time.

All of that to say, I thought I would try to put it all in one post in semi-layman’s terms. I will put the medical jargon in as well if you want to Google it for more information.

When they started the surgery they did a full endoscopy (camera all the way down the throat and esophagus) to make certain there was no anomalies or tumors down there. Once the endoscopy was completed they started on the tumor in his tongue. This is called a partial glossectomy. The photo below is my fantastic rendering of a human tongue! When Dr. Hu (I was so tempted to ask where the Tardis was!?) got in there the tumor was bigger than he thought it was going to be. So, In order to get clean margins he used a CO2 Laser to remove a 4cm by 5cm piece – this removed the tumor and allows for a 1cm margin around. They did not have to cut into the root of the tongue which is a HUGE praise as that is the area that really works to push your food down your throat.

Now, clearly that is a large portion that is gone and it will affect a lot…but his speech is AMAZING!!!! Even with the swelling that will linger for a while, he mostly sounds like he has a super bad case of strep throat. It is still very sore, and will be for a bit. The doctor said that healing wise, the incision should be pretty well healing within 2 weeks of surgery. He also said that the right side will pick up the slack and start doing things for both sides…kinda cool how the body works – must have had a great Designer! Apparently the tongue is one of the fastest organs to heal (which makes no sense to me at all). He will need to see a speech therapist to fine tune a few things – but we anticipate there may not be many sessions required.

Aside from the tongue surgery, the doctor took most of his lymph nodes on that side, from the chin line almost to the collar bone – this is called a neck dissection. That took a 6” incision in his neck that goes from just under his ear to almost the front of his chin…all just below the jaw line. It is pretty gnarly, but it seems to be healing well and once the staples come out (maybe tomorrow) he will probably feel much better.

Again, we are waiting on the final pathology reports that will dictate how he will proceed, but the initial path report was all negative…and so we pray.

I can’t begin to tell of the miracles our family has be witness to over the last 6 weeks. Speaking for myself, I am overwhelmed at what the Father has done for us through His people here on earth. I have been keeping a running note book with my thoughts over seeing and feeling all of the stuff and I will write about it someday – just not yet. I’m so thankful for all of the prayer coverage, the sweet cards, emails and Facebook posts…the love of Christ walking among us!

On a Roller Coaster with a Good Good Father...

I’ve spoken these words and written these words: If I am going to be in the blogging world, I should be willing to be real. I don’t want to present a “Facebook Perfect” picture – because no one lives life like that – especially me. My life is messy and dirty and ridiculous, but it is my life and I am blessed to have it – the good, the bad and the ugly! So, as I come back to the blog after a hiatus of sorts, I feel it is important to share what is happening in my messy life – and here is the realness of it all!

Our family has been hit with something that many families have been hit with. One of us, our son, was diagnosed with oral cancer 3 weeks ago – no risk factors at all – but alas, here we are getting ready to walk with him through a journey none of us would have ever dreamed of. I have pondered something over the past few weeks, how we don’t really address cancer directly unless it happens to us. As a society we rarely even say the word. We use terms like ‘the big C’ or ‘the diagnosis’. We are all afraid of it. Cancer is just plain and simple, an ugly thing to say and to deal with.

So many more things have happened in the weeks since the powerful blow was delivered – to trace God’s fingerprints in all that has occurred is to be amazed over and over again by His ever faithful presence. We have literally be front row witnesses to miracles – and I don’t want to ever forget those events. They are some touch stones for each of our family members that remind us of faith unseen working in visible actions.

I’m a big word picture person. And this journey has provided some of the greatest word pictures for me. The one that sticks the most is that we are on the biggest, scariest roller coaster ride ever. Climbing the huge hills, not know what awaits us on the other side. Taking curves and loops, being jerked from side to side until we feel like we can no longer hold our heads up as we fight against the forces pushing against us.

I think this picture fits me so well…I hate roller coasters. I have been talked into riding some since the Rocket Scientist and I have been married – mostly by him and our son. While they are screaming with delight and throwing their hands up in the air, I am squeezing my eyes closed and tightly as I can and trying to get my body as low and buried in the car as I possibly can. I don’t make any noise after the initial scream of terror on the first drop. I tighten every muscle, grip the safety bar as tight as I can and will my body to not move an inch – I go into a full protection mode. I’m not joking when I say I hate them.

And that is how I feel being the mom, watching my son going through what he is going through. I thought I was doing pretty good keeping it all together, putting on the happy face, doing all that needs to be done, giving my all to the areas I am involved in at my church, in my leadership group for creatives, etc. I haven’t really talked about it to people other than the clinical side of stuff. It’s just easier that way – deal with the medical jargon and you don’t have to deal with your emotions because you need to keep it together for everyone else to fall apart. That has been my thought. Where in the world did I get that from? Goodness knows I’m probably not the only person who has operated like this – but it is certainly not the best way to function.

Yesterday – out of nowhere, I lost it. Funny enough, it was in the middle of reading some scripture to put on a watercolor that I had done. Apparently God wanted me to grasp the full concept that it’s ok to not be ok – and that He’s got all of this. Last night was the time He chose to bring that into full view for me. Below is what I posted last night at the very beginning of a long night of, well, let’s call it intense conversation with God.

Since PJ's diagnosis I have said very little about it on social media. I grasp for words to explain my feelings. I struggle every minute to hold back tears and swallow what seems to be a permanent lump in my throat. I am not living in the 'what if' zone, I am living in the "I don't know how to do this" zone.

I don't know how to be strong in the midst of what appears to be an immeasurable hurricane. I don't know how to be the family cheerleader when we are together and the fall apart in the shower where no one hears. I don't know how to keep my baby boy from pain. I don't know how to shore up my daughter in-love with strength, hope and emotional support in the midst of this stupid cancer storm. I don't know how to keep biting my tongue when people say the stupidest things to us about cancer under the guise of "being helpful." I don't know how to keep pouring out when it feels like someone keeps draining my tank in the dark of night.

I am finding myself completely inadequate and overwhelmed in it all.

What I do know is this - I may not know how to do/be any of the above, but my God does. My God is keeping the family together. My God is the Great Encourager. My God will pour into me and replenish my soul. My God will show all of us how to climb this mountain placed in the middle of our journey. I know that I don't know how to do any of what is coming in my weakness, but in His strength He will show each member of our family how to do what needs to be done...and right now that is to pray & be still.

I feel like Much Afraid (Hinds Feet on High Places)...when the Great Shepherd places the seed of the flower of love in her heart. Love & pain go together. And so, because He bends down to listen, I will cry out to Him as long as I have breath. #‎cancersucks ‪#‎Godisgood ‪#‎thisismyshortpityparty

When I woke up this morning I had a new perspective on things – a true understanding that it really is ok to not be ok. And that God’s perfect strength comes out when we are at our weakest. Most importantly, I finally grasped that I can’t fix any of this. I can’t control anything going on with our son; I can’t make it easier for him; I can’t carry any of the stuff our daughter in-love is going through, for there are lessons she will be learning as well. What I can do is make sure our home is a safe place for everyone to be in and let go, I can make sure everyone is fed well and nourished. But most of all what I can do is just crawl into God’s lap and just BE. If I believe His word, then I believe that He has this whole situation under control. What I can do is pay attention and take it all in, never forgetting every little miracle as it happens. With His strength I can be the mom, the wife, the daughter, the friend, the leader He made me to be, and it is only by His strength that I can do any of those things.

The other thing He showed me very clearly last night, is that our family has an amazing support team. We each have people who support us individually and then we have a TON of folks all over the world (I am not kidding on that one – Singapore, Germany, England, Australia, India, Africa, Spain, Brazil, Russia…all over the globe) who support and encourage our family as a whole unit. I knew that already, but God gave me a better picture of that last night. I am so blessed; we are so blessed to call these precious souls our friends. To know that, if they could, any one of them would carry a part of this burden for us – and in some ways, they are. The sweetness of their words, and the power of their prayers, is more healing than they may ever know.

God is a Good, Good Father…

And so…now that I have started to put my feelings and struggles out there, it’s time to get back to some creative blogging (interrupted by the occasional update on what is happening in our lives as we ride this roller coaster!).

(ok…it’s been a while. Funny how sometimes the things you volunteer for take up as much time as a paying gig would. Alas, I’m trying to get back on the blogging train and be a little more realistic in how many times a week I post!)