So we’ve reached another hurdle to jump in this cancer journey. Radiation. It started with a doctor appointment on December 13th. We heard many new medical terms and explanations of radiation procedures. We were again in information overload, but, we left confident that this would be the final kick in the butt of this cancer that has been an uninvited visitor in our lives for the past nine months. It took the programmers, physicist, doctor and who knows who else a month to configure and calculate the big radiation machine (I’m assuming it is a big machine at this point but have not seen it). All this for 22 prescribed visits of 15 minutes of a laser type of radiation to be precisely shot into my big guys body, carefully dodging his kidney, aorta, pancreas and spine while basically frying the shrunken mass. Literally from entering the room to walking out of the building only takes 15 minutes! I am praying they clearly have that mass in their sight before they pull the trigger. I am sitting in the car right now waiting, looking at Springhill Hospital and thinking about how much time we have spent at this facility over the past months and feeling thankful that God created people who have the knowledge necessary to treat people who have been shocked by the word “cancer”. God is so good. I am not oblivious to the countless sweet people who are still struggling for answers and successful treatment. I am thankful He has walked every step with us and blanketed us in peace and the security He is with us. I am thankful that Lynn’s treatment seems to be working. I will never take our time together for granted, and will continually thank Him for letting me grow old with my big guy.
We are waiting….yet again. Cancer is not only a life altering experience in the life of the patient and their loved ones, but it’s a game of waiting….always. Waiting for diagnosis. Waiting for tests to be done. Waiting for diagnosis. Waiting for a treatment plan. Waiting for results. Today we are waiting for yet another CT scan so the radiologist can them create a formula of treatment for radiation. In theory, we think this will be easier than the last eight months, but we are no longer hanging our hopes on unrealistic expectations. It will take a week for them to do their thing and program the monster radiation machine that will shoot pin pointed radiation into my big guys body. Then, according to the consultation…a month ago….he will take 20-23 treatments that last 15 minutes (I find this hard to believe) and will happen Monday through Friday until he reaches the prescribed number between twenty and twenty-three.
Sometimes it feels like this cancer journey started yesterday and other times it feels like it has been going on forever. I wonder if we’ll ever get past life with cancer. Will we be able to walk through each day without the “what if” of cancer imprinted on our subconscious? Will the affects of the last year of life’s storms ever slip away and return to normal? I hope so.
Today, after weeks of melancholy….(Don’t you love that word? It so adequately fits the definition of, well, melancholy. To be “soberly thoughtful, pensive”) or as my dear friend of 34 years says a bad case of the “can’t help-it’s and the mully-grubs” I took a big step forward and registered my blog domain. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s a big deal in my world. It means I’m serious about this blog. It means I need to get off my fanny and pursue this writing thing. It means I need to quit wallowing (look it up, it’s a real word) around in my mud puddle of melancholy, get up, rinse the mud off and face forward. The sad thing about people who have a writer’s heart….they tend to wallow….they tend to allow the mully-grubs to just take over completely, and pretty soon they are wallowing all up in that melancholy mud puddle and they are enjoying it! Pretty much a “woe is me” attitude prevails. I’m pretty sure God isn’t pleased with me right now, because I’ve pretty much been up to my chin in melancholy for weeks. I just imagine Him shaking His head and sighing “Will she ever learn to trust me….”
So…anyway, enough of chasing that squirrel! This registering my blog domain thing has now made me accountable. It is going to require me to actually, well, you know, write! No more whining, no more excuses, no more procrastinating. So, to quote a t-shirt that my cousin gave me a few years ago, “Put on your big girl panties and deal” …I’m taking a big step forward, putting on my big girl panties and dealing.
Who am I? Or who do people think I am? I ask myself that sometimes and ponder deeply who I am and what I am here for, or I wonder what people really think of me. I wonder myself sometimes about other people. Who are they really? Have I just determined who I think they are because of their actions or their relationship to me or what they tell me? Do I look beyond the chatter and actions and see the person behind the mask. Because believe me, people wear masks! I am beginning to believe that I do not really know anyone! I only know the person they want me to see, the person they present to me. Which brings me back to my to my first two questions of who am I or who do people think I am. Better yet, who is the person I let people think I am. Complicated, huh! We seem to present a different persona to different people, depending on the environment and situation. It’s true! We want people to like us. We want people to respect us. There are those rare individuals who are the same, whether at work, home, church or at play. But, I think they are rare. I want to be that person. And I think I am that person. But I can’t be certain.
Among believers, the people who I worship with, the people who I see several times a week at church whether in worship or in service, the people who have been walking this walk of faith with me for years, these people are the people I seem to be most susceptible to believe they are who they say they are. But, I am wrong. It has a deeply disturbing effect on me when it turns out they aren’t who they say they are! I chew on it for days! I lay awake at night searching through memories trying to figure out how I could be so gullible! I ponder on how they could go in a direction that is so contrary to the words I heard from their mouths over the years and I try to figure out a plan of action to bring them to their senses! I waver between getting them alone and talking sense into them or throwing a bag over their heads, taking them to a secluded location and beating some sense into them! But, sadly, that is not my job. How do I know that, God told me so! I can’t fix everything. He can use me but I can’t make them change their path. That stinkin’ free will thing always gets in the way!!! But God knew what He was doing when He created us this way, and I don’t want to go second guessing the Creator!
But seriously brothers and sister in the faith, be who you really are! Quit trying to fake people out! Quit trying to play some stinking Shell Game where we have to pick the right shell to see the real you!!! Life is hard enough in this world without having to be suspicious of every person calling themselves a Christian. If you are a Christian, you should walk, talk, act and make decisions like a person who believes the ENTIRE Word of God, not just the parts that are convenient.
Who am I? I hope when you answer that question you would say “Dana is a woman who believes every Word in the Bible. She loves the Lord with all her heart. And she tries as hard as she can to live a life that honors Him. She is loyal. She is compassionate. She is merciful. (no snickers from anyone!). She speaks her mind sometimes when she should be quiet and ponder. If you don’t want her real opinion, don’t ask her. She is fierce when it comes to her family, her children, her friends and the students she teaches. She tends to be self-condemning, but she knows it and is working on that. She believes people can turn around and do great things for God. She believes people can make a difference in other’s lives and in this dark world. She tries to see the positive, but is sometimes anxious and overwhelmed by the ugliness of this world, but likes to reclaim the truth that GOD IS IN CONTROL! She wants to make a difference in this world but is not always certain as to how that looks for her. She is sometimes unrealistic. (but thanks to her loving husband of 23 yrs she has learned to overcome some of that) She believes in marriage between one man and one woman (it’s in the BOOK people, read it). She believes there is a positive side to everything (except sin). She loves family vacations with her hubby & 3 girls with no fussing! She believes we are all called by God to do something specific. She gets more frustrated with believers who know right and do wrong than she does with lost people who do wrong. She struggles with wanting everyone to like her and believing that most people don’t. She struggles with feeling like she is invisible. She gets mad at herself when she does the right thing even when she doesn’t want to do the right thing. (what is that about!) She hates being overweight, and hates that as hard as she tries she just can’t lose the weight. She wants to be a published writer, but thinks it will never happen. She does not struggle with “gray areas” contrary to some peoples opinion (because you guys, there aren’t really that many gray areas). But I hope people would mostly say, she is not a fake.
So, friends, if you are still with me and still reading, ask yourself the same questions. And if you are really brave, and want to know what other people think about you, ask me, I’ll probably tell you.
Coolness Does Not Always Trump Experience!
I have observed that people are not really interested. Interested in what, you are probably asking at this point. I am beginning to believe, that in general, people aren’t really interested in other people. I spent 4 days last fall at a National Youth Workers Conference, in which our small band of youth workers were jumbled together with some 8,000 other youth workers and youth pastors from across the nation. After congregating together in the “big room” for worship and a speaker, we quickly dispersed to various seminars on a myriad of subjects. We tried to spread ourselves throughout the seminars in order to gather as much information and knowledge as possible. I found myself in a couple of classes alone, well not alone, but sitting among strangers. I had tried hard to read name tags as people passed me in the convention center and in the classrooms, curious to see where all these people who must love working with students were traveling from to learn more about ministering to youth. I noticed that we band of eleven from the heart of the south, the belt buckle of the Bible belt, were in the minority. Most people seemed to hail from the north and west to California, then the East Coast, and a large group of mid-westerners. I tried engaging some people in conversation by asking “Where are you from?” and usually I was given a short, quick answer. I started to think my southern twang was hindering our ability to converse. As I sat in one seminar, the instructor asked us to turn to the person sitting next to us and give three words that described our Middle School experience. I shuddered inwardly, not wanting to remember those three years of torment. I glanced at the young woman sitting one chair away from me, waiting for her to glance toward me to follow our instructions. She continued to look forward for a moment, and then slowly looked toward my southern (albeit awkward) smiling face. I saw her forehead give just a slight crinkle as if she was suppressing the urge to frown. With no expression, other than the brief crinkling of her perfect brow, she uttered three words in a distinct Midwest accent, “They were great.” Then she turned her face back toward the speaker, never waiting for my response. Was she trying to be amusing, I wondered? Did she misunderstand the assignment? I sat there staring at the side of her perfect face, examining her perfect make-up, her perfect long thick hair twisted into a perfect bun and clipped with some chic hair accessory. She wore a long dark fitted top with a gray lightweight coat and one of those wonderful scrunchy scarfs that only people with long necks can pull off. Her long legs were crisscrossed and covered in dark tights and riding boots. Her arms were crossed across her waist, adding to her air of superiority. I was 49 years old and this 30 something young woman had just dismissed me. Her body language and actions revealed her apparent belief that the activity was beneath her or that communication with me was unnecessary. I was still disturbed by her response and by the fact that if you stood the two of us before a group of teenagers, she would be their obvious choice among the younger generation. She was young and hip (that word alone ages me!), she was tall and shapely (I am not), she was beautiful, she seemed educated, for all accounts she was visually more appealing than myself. I could see the scenario play out in my mind. She would be surrounded by giggling girls and hormonal teenage boys. I would be left standing alone, rejected and cast off. I shook my head, clearing the scene from my mind. I became determined not to be ignored. I had worked with youth for over 20 years in many different aspects. I had seen and heard things that would have left this young woman speechless. I had held the hand of many a crying teenage girl as she blubbered about a broken heart. I had been roused in the middle of the night by a phone call from a student to come and pick them up or just because they wanted to talk. I had endured sleepless nights at camp and retreats and the most feared – lock-ins! I had had my house rolled and forked so many times that at one point I had decided to leave the yard décor left by students to make it easier for the next go around. My car had been painted and saran wrapped on many occasion – no small feat when you drive a mini-van! I had convinced many a student to come clean with their parents over secrets they were keeping or to reveal an unplanned pregnancy. I had prayed over and with students about small and big decisions as they looked forward to life after high school. I had taught the truths of God’s Word to every age from 12 to 18. I had earned my stripes and the sprinkle of gray that was shining in my auburn hair! I was not going to be discounted as some short, fat old lady trying to be cool by attending a youth leader’s conference. I smiled my most charming southern smile and tapped the young woman on her shoulder. She slowly turned her face toward me annoyed that I was trying to engage. “Excuse me; I am sure you were wondering what three words I would use to describe my middle school experience. And yes, in my day, it was called junior high, but nevertheless it was middle school. The three words I would use to describe that time are Challenging, Abstruse and Empowering.” I smiled at her again and turned my attention toward the speaker who had resumed her lecture. I felt the young woman still staring at me but mustered up the most pensive expression I could and pretended to be engrossed in the speaker’s content. I felt a sense of victory at having trumped her aloof manner. She might be young and pretty, but I was old and experienced!