Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tiny Steps Toward Trusting God

I have been a bit quiet lately. However, my excuse is that we have been insanely busy this summer. I am having a desire to write more consistently (about more than cancer stuff) and, by the encouragement of so many of you, try to turn this blog into a book of some sort. We’ll see what can happen if I attempt to be a little more structured and focused with my time. In the meantime, here’s the lowdown of events over the past few weeks, each of which I could write an entire post about… but instead I’ll just throw out few blurbs.

Leah blowing out the candles on her 10 ft banana split!
  • Leah turned two years old on June 29th! We celebrated with a 10 foot banana split (made in a rain gutter). It is so cool seeing the lightbulb click in a child's head when they realize the party is for them and that people are there to celebrate their birthday. In her quiet sweetness she just loved being the center of attention. I love birthday parties!!!
  • We went camping at Half Moon Bay for a few days. The trip was a complete blast while we hung out with some of our dear friends and enjoyed a day of playing at the beach. We witnessed a couple as they got engaged on the beach and in true paparazzi form I snagged my camera and took a ton of pictures of them celebrating and embracing. Last week I sent them the pictures and it has struck up a sort of sweet e-mail friendship… kinda cool.
  • Started back to work at Leatherby’s at the new location, which is about 5 minutes from our house. I’ll be managing a couple nights a week which will allow Eric to care for the kids while I make a little extra $ and get to be outside of the home a bit. The store is crazy busy and man did my feet hurt after that first night, but what a fun time I had! It took about 30 minutes for everything to come back to me… like I never left. I’m quite grateful for this opportunity to “go home” and had fun while working.
  • Went to a bridal shower for a friend from elementary school that I hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years. She actually lives in Europe, but we have reunited via FaceBook. It was fun to see several faces from the past but the best part of the day was to see the extreme excitement and joy that she oozed with when she spoke of her future husband.
  • My garden is flourishing. The tomatoes taste like candy. Cucumbers, zucchini, squash, strawberries… they are all starting to produce wildly which is such a rewarding feeling. I also went blackberry picking with my girlfriend as we plan to make jams later this summer. Love the beauty of dancing with nature and reaping a harvest from the earth.
  • The infection I wrote about last week actually turned out to be a KIDNEY STONE! At one point, I thought that perhaps I was going to end up on that bizarre show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.” Talk about pain… geez. I’ll still contend that natural childbirth is more painful, but at least when you have a kid you know that it will be over at some point. Once it passed I felt/feel like a million bucks. I really think it was getting in my way of feeling better after radiation finished. If I never experience a kidney stone again it will be too soon!
  • We went in for my 3 months oncology follow-up appointment. Here’s the story of the events that followed:
A few weeks ago, I met with my oncologist for my 1st follow-up appointment. I will need to see him every 3 months for the next 3 years, with mammograms once a year (the next one is scheduled for August.) We talked about how I was feeling, which at the time was still very tired, and about how it will take several months to get back to full strength. He checked me out and then I wanted him to look at a lump I had found above my armpit. I had shown it to him a few months ago, and due to the location, he wasn’t concerned. He said it not in the right place for a lymph node and was likely just a pocket of fat, which is apparently common as women begin to age. But this time when he touched it he agreed that it had grown in size and should be checked out. This is how the conversation went:
Dr.: “Yes, that has grown. Who was your surgeon?”
Me: “Dr. SuperCool in Roseville.”
Dr.: “That’s right. You had surgery in Roseville. Are you comfortable moving to a surgeon here?”
Me: “Sure.”
Dr.: “Okay, I’m going to schedule an ultrasound.”

And that was it. He looked through some paperwork, wrote down some notes, and then said goodbye. Eric and I sat there silently. Of course Eric tried to assure me that everything was fine, but all I could think of was “Wait… I was supposed to leave here clean. Am I clean? What just happened?”

About 20 minutes later, I received a call from radiology to schedule the ultrasound. They gave me the first appointment for the following Monday. Two business days later. One of the good things about being an oncology patient is that you get crazy fast service. A downside is that when people are crazy fast, your mind goes straight to being scared and wondering why you are getting such fast service.

The following 4 days were heavy. I spent 3 days in a trace-like constant prayer state and then most of Sunday as a crazy ragging psycho. Let’s just say the fact Eric didn’t kick me out of the house that day is a testament to his loving patience. I am pretty sure that in those 4 days I cried harder and more than in the 10 months of treatment combined. Talk about stress and fear. To have finished treatment and think that possibly what we had just gone through didn’t even matter. I was a wreck.

On Monday morning, we went in for the ultrasound. They scanned the area, examined the lump, and determined that it is just a cyst. Due to the location, it is most likely an ingrown hair, which has created a pocket (yeah… not even fat.) They said we don’t need to do anything unless it grows and becomes annoying. I wonder if their not wanting to pull it out has anything to do with it being on my surgery side and not wanting to create more scar tissue in that area? I’ll be sure to ask at my next appointment.

So… it was a super scary time where I really felt pushed beyond control of my emotions and fear. I didn’t realize that I had that much fear stored up inside of me. But God is good and he took me somewhere great in the midst of that fear. He took me to a place of surrender. A place of surrendering my children to Him.
Nathan (5 yrs) showing his T-Rex hands and
Leah (2 yrs) just being her sweet self.
Let me explain. In the Protestant Christian culture, it is a tradition/rite that when our children are infants we do what is called a “Baby Dedication.” (We save baptism until the child is older and able to make that choice on their own in their own time.) At this ceremony a pastor will pray over the child and the parents and “dedicate” the baby to God and commission the parents as they publicly declare and commit to raising the child in a Christ centered, church attending, God fearing home. Eric and I had chosen to do hold this event at the 1st birthday parties of both of our kids with special pastor friends offering the blessings.

But on the day before the ultrasound, as I lay trying to take a nap next to Leah, my tears flowed and I was overwhelmed with so many thoughts and fears for my kids futures. As a mom, you can understand that much of my time laying in bed during chemo was spent worrying about my children. Thinking (worrying) about what would happen to my kids if I didn’t make it. Dwelling over what kind of video journals I want to make (have you seen the movie 'My Life' with Nicole Kidman and Michael Keaton? Box of tissues required!). Should I make the movies now or later (do I wait till I really get sick)? Who will help Leah sell Girl Scout cookies? Who will sew on her badges? Will she even be signed up for Girl Scouts? Will the kids hair be combed for picture day? Will their lunches have sweet encouraging notes inside? Will Eric know to cut oranges for soccer into wedges so that they can be orange smiles? Will he sign them up for soccer? He better sign them up for soccer!!!! Who will take Leah to buy her 1st bra? Who will… what will… how will…? Thinking about and planning a future where you may not be there is numbing.

Anyways, in the midst of those racing thoughts I was met with the quiet whisper of God reminding me that my children are not mine… but they belong to Him. That he has trusted me with them for a time, but ultimately he is their Father and He will meet and care for their every need. While my human nature and thoughts are normal, the quietness reminded me that I had dedicated my babies to the Lord already and it was time to believe that He is enough.

I’ll be the first to admit that this act of trust is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I am finding that the tiny steps toward trusting God are bigger than choosing not to take any steps at all.

Peace and love.

July 2012 - Half Moon Bay