Pendulum

One thing that has been steadily true for all of this deployment, and even before that really, is that I have been a sort of emotional pendulum.  That is….  I have a good many steady days.  And then I have days where I am processing something deep (as in…  Feeling the Sting), and then I have days where I am just a wreck.  I can never quite predict which kind of day it’s going to be when I wake up in the morning.

I wrote about this last go around, but nearing the “end” of a deployment I expect… most everyone expects… that “all is well” in that “home stretch”–whatever portion you deem to be the “home stretch.”  But the thing is…  When your husband is on deployment?  He’s gone…  Right up until he isn’t.  It’s still me solo-parenting the girls.  It’s still me juggling the Mom jobs and the Dad jobs.  It’s still me facing the evenings and the weekends and the lonely times without the one that is my other half.  And it’s still hard.  So I wade through that.

I ruminate.  I process big stuff that I haven’t dug in deep enough to process for a long time.  I think that when my husband is gone for months at a time one of the positive things that happens is I kind of sink into center.  I listen to the thoughts in my own head.  I marinate in them.  Which means that in some strange way, I have a better chance of getting brave and dealing with things.  I usually have a couple of months where I really ruminate on our marriage.  This go-around along with that there’s been lots of checking in and saying, “Ok self.  How are you doing with this issue?”  With the seasons of the last few years being so full of things to process, the ruminating keeps me busy to say the least.

Granted with a girl who is as naturally introspective as I, that means I spend a lot of time in my own brain, but there are some good fruits that come from that.

The tough part of the pendulum situation is that I’m friable…  When a day goes south, or the fear-thoughts start running rampant, or a situation that should be simple isn’t, my coping mechanisms are worn down from trudging through on my own for so long.  So… as I mentioned, sometimes I’m a big ole wreck.  When Husband left this go around, I feel like I was just starting to regain my footing from the world of Tomas the Tumah.  The thing is, the follow-up parts of that are lifelong and ongoing, so every time I have an appointment or an ache or a pain my brain starts churning through it all again.

I’ve been having serious hip pain.  For months now. In fact, I remember talking to Husband about it before he left.  Now that I’ve read through the symptoms list I know I’ve been feeling pain at different times possibly since even before I was pregnant with Alaine.  I talked to my endocrinologist about it.  I know it’s ridiculous, but I am still in a window of time where when I feel a pain, I think “tumor.”  At my last follow -up appointment, my incredibly awesome endo reassured me that all was probably ok and wisely diagnosed me with sacro-iliac dysfunction.  He even gave me exercises to do.

But the pain has gotten worse.  So much worse.  Crying in the middle of Wal-mart not sure if I’m going to make it out to the parking lot worse (and then managing to go to Zumba and move like there’s no pain at all a half hour after).  But not all the time worse.  Sometimes it’s ok.  Sometimes I hardly notice it.  When it’s bad though…  whew!  And so I went to the doctor to try to address the issue head on.  The doctor told me I’d need Physical Therapy…  Which is time I don’t have and brings about a new set of logistics to work through.  He prescribed me medicine….  That I still haven’t been able to get from the pharmacy because of the ridiculous long lines that are there each time I’ve gone (last time I made it up to the part where you get the pager….  only to have to go to relieve my sitter so she could pick her kids up from school.  Walking out without the pain meds I needed was a big old bummer).

I wake up with the pain.  It’s really yucky in the mornings.  Getting dressed is excruciating.  I’ve finally wised up and started taking anti-inflammatory meds regularly, but the mornings are just  rough.  I’ve started thinking of the pain as being the place where my fear lives.  And when I feel it, I am fearful.  And sad.  I cry easily.  I worry more.

I’m friable.

And then there are days like today, I woke up, and ordered tickets for my family to visit some loved ones early in the summer.  I organized a special outing I had been promising the girls.  I wrote cards to friends who I thought might need encouragement…  because I needed encouragement and it only makes sense to send out into the world that which we would hope to receive ourselves.

And then I mowed the lawn, cleaned out the garage, cleaned out the van, and swept the kitchen.  Sure I limped a little bit.  But I got it done.

And tonight, I don’t feel friable…  I feel accomplished.  I feel like I’m a woman worthy of the title of Navy Wife who even gets the dirty work done.

Yes, there are days like that too.  More than you’d imagine.  And sometimes, instead of days, they are hours, or moments.  But they are something to carry me.  They are the upswing to the other side of the continuum.

Because…

I’m a pendulum these days…  I never know which side of the emotional continuum I’m going to swing out on.

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Feeling the Sting

“Where O Death is your victory?  Where O death is your sting?”


That was the litany that wove itself throughout the worship service at my church this Easter Morning.

And it can’t have been an accident that it came as I stand staring down something I’ve wanted to avoid for a while:

A fear of death.

Friends and long time readers know that 7 years ago my Mom died of lung cancer.  And that it pretty much rocked my world. I was 24.  My oldest was four months old.  My husband was gone off and on just prior to her death and deployed for six months a month after.

I grieved hard and long.  Longer than many were comfortable with.  Some people told me that you have to get tough with yourself after about six months and not let it overwhelm you anymore.  Some people just intoned in hushed words that “they were very worried” about me.”

It took time.  Really, I find that grief is a lifelong thing.  Even if the active mourning is more or less over, I still have moments and days where I grieve her.  I suspect I always will.

All I know is that when she died part of my foundation was lost.  One of the anchor points of who I am had drifted out of the world.  As a dear friend of mine described it, I was “unmoored.”

One of the most important things I learned in that journey was that it’s ok to call a spade a spade.  Death?  Is bad.  Grief?  It hurts.  Sickness and pain?  It was not in the original plan for the world.  I became increasingly frustrated with Christian messages that told me to redefine the bad things that were happening to me as GOOD things.  I was supposed to wrap things up in a pretty little bow and say, “This was the hardest experience of my life, but it’s ok because I am stronger for it.  Isn’t God good?”  Or, “What a gift these trials have been to me because they have refined my faith.”

I could then and I do now vociferously get  behind the idea that God was in ALL of it.  That he was unraveling and unwrapping goodness even in the badness.  That he was using the ashes of my decimated soul to bring about a new and different kind of life.  That he could WORK all things for good.  But I could not get behind the idea that all things–losing my mother, watching cancer take over her body, the grief and loneliness that turned me inside out–were BY DEFINITION “good.”

Fast forward five years and there is a third baby on the way and I am a nervous wreck because months prior I’d lost a babe to miscarriage and there is a lump in my neck and the doctor has just had to wikipedia the diagnosis.

The physicians and medical journals dither and dally about how to classify the kind of tumor that I had, but it lands in the ‘cancer’ category eventually.  For the last two years I have been in various stages of living with the specter of paraganglioma.  Initially it was diagnosed and I was jumping through hoops trying to find doctors who understood the disease.  And then I was shuttled into a high risk group for pregnancy and told that labor could cause a hypertensive crisis and that I could not under any circumstances actively push my baby out.  And I had an amazing doctor and the most beautiful birth ever but it was rife with uncertainty and fear.

And then I had the surgery 3000 miles away at an amazing but foreign institution and parts of it were so hard.

And then I was grappling with life after and loose ends and extra questions.  At first they believed I had another tumor on the other side.  And we were ruling out genetic causes.  And one by one we crossed the questions that could be answered off the list until on this past Friday, Good Friday, in some capacity we could finally say, “It is finished.”

But still guardedness, caution, anxiety….  fear…  hang about me.  I want to be carefree and happy about the good news I have received, but the truth is.  I am still scared.  And I don’t want to be too happy only to find out that the journey isn’t over yet.

Furthermore, lately it occurs to me in a deeper way that I am a daughter–an only child–who lost her mother to cancer.  Who sat by her side as tumors ate away at her…  who watched the ugly stages of the progression of the disease.

And I am a woman who had cancer come knocking at my own door.

Stacked together, that’s really kind of huge.

My endocrinologist listens to me patiently.  Answers my long list of questions.  Affirms me for how much I have learned about my disease and how active I am in my care process.  He tells me, “I will be the objective one who realizes you are a patient who is scared of cancer and scared that this will come back.  We will talk things through together.”

I want to reject it outright and tell him that I have done my darnedest to be objective and to write my questions and present myself outside of that fear.

But I swallow hard and realize that he is right.

So I sat this morning and I listened to my pastor say over and over again, “Where O Death is your victory?  Where O Death is your sting?” and I tried to find my place in it.  But instead I felt the fear.

I am a believer.  I believe in the resurrection.  I believe in the redemption of all things…  Of me and my heart….  The redemption of the ugliness of things like grief and death and disease.  I believe that I will see my mother again.

But death?  It stings me.  I have felt the raging ache of loss at my core.  I have cried animal like sobs and lain awake at night re-living my mother’s last days.  I know what it is to move through life with a gaping hole where she should be.

I fear death.  Though I know if it comes to me…  If any of the subsequent aches and pains that I have that scare me enough to go to the doctor, or if any of the scans that I have come back and read that this disease or another kind has come knocking at my door and this time I am not able to stave it off….  I know when the inevitable comes that I will be with Jesus and it will be the most glorious of glorious days.

But I also know my children will know the ache of life without a mother.  And I know that if I can anticipate it’s coming I will grieve the loss of time with them, with my family and time in this beautiful, aching world.

I know, though I haven’t wanted to look at it up to now, preferring instead to keep it in mental generalities and spiritual platitudes, that I AM afraid of death.

I’m just not sure what to do with that right now.   I want to say with Paul and the Psalmist and my pastor, “Where O death is your victory?  Where O death is your sting?”

Right now though I am grappling with the enormity of losing my mother to cancer and then staring it down myself.

Incidentally my other pastor preached the Good Friday sermon.  He asserted that as Christians, we are more free to allow ourselves to feel and express our grief, our sadness, our hurt, and our fear because we know in the end there is victory…  Because we know that what undergirds us always is Christ’s victory over sin and death.  We can feel it all fully because on the other side of that darkness there is hope.

So maybe, in some backwards way, if I let myself sit here where I am…  And if I give myself the chance to do the work and process it, I am still grasping firmly to hope.

In the midst of the fear and the grief and the hurt…  In the midst of the enormity of living on the other side of all of this.  In spite of the fear and the sting I DO feel it is the hope that will allow me the peace and the defiance to say those words to death.  Even if this Easter Day I feel the fear more than the victory.

Unsettled

For whatever reason I’m unsettled today.  I read about the senselessness that happened in Afghanistan, I ached about the grief of a friend, and for whatever reason, my brain has been chewing on some of the harder aspects of the trip we took for tests and surgery to deal with my tumor last year.

I don’t know why these days and these moments of stewing on things that I’ve mostly felt my way through and that happened in the past come up as they do still.

But they do.  Still.

Today I was thinking about the “extra” hard parts.  The ones that weren’t directly related to the tumor that I had, but that complicated the situation just the same.  I thought about how ridiculous it felt to have to go to another hospital–when I was at the foremost research hospital in the country–first because we thought I had pink eye (I didn’t) and then because my ear drum ruptured and I had an ear infection.  I thought about how terrified I was when the potential case of pink eye nearly sparked an epidemiology scare that I was all but told could set off a chain of events that would wreak havoc not just for me but potentially for the entire institution performing my surgery.  I thought about how much scarier it made tooling around in an unfamiliar hospital and having tests and procedures was when I could hear nothing out of my right ear because my eardrum had ruptured.  I thought about the scowls I got at my choice to continue to breastfeed through the entire ordeal, and my choice to bring my baby along (and I was told this plan would be ok). I thought about how much easier it might have been if I hadn’t done all the research I had about breastfeeding and had just taken the doctors and radiologists very, very conservative advice rather than trusting my gut and the advice of the lactation consultants I met with and pumping and dumping but only as often as my lactation consultants advised.  I thought about the disequilibrium and isolation-fearing despair I felt when my husband and my not quite three month old babe were told in no uncertain terms that they could not stay with me in my hospital room and the scary words of warning intoned everywhere we went about infectious diseases she could catch.  I thought about the meds I wasn’t given to ease my anxiety prior to surgery and the pain meds I wasn’t given after the surgery again because of overly conservative medical folks who didn’t know how many choices there really are for a breastfeeding mother.

I thought about how terrifying it all was and how out of control I felt and how this was all outside of the actual surgery itself…  the fear that I’d built up over the entire year about the feeling of being laid out on the table and positioned to be cut into.  I considered how very much it felt that I was the ‘trouble’ patient who had so many different outside issues that I insisted on juggling.

Then the post-op infection.  The pain and the helplessness.  The doctors who were afraid to touch me.  The scolding I got from local doctors who told me, “That’s what you get for seeking care 3000 miles away,” the day in the ER as my neck continued to swell, and the doctors didn’t come and didn’t and didn’t come…  the tiredness, the vanco drip for two days, the ache of being away from my big girls again so soon after we’d returned.  The vulnerability of another unlikely thing going wrong.

I thought about how much more bleary-eyed caring for an infant feels when you have delicate surgery and a post operative infection requiring two solid days of intravenous anti-biotics.  I thought of my husband pacing two different hospitals on opposite coasts with her in the middle of the night so I could rest.  I thought about trying to hard so be the one to soothe her because she just wanted Mommy even before I really felt well enough to do so.

And then I got an email from my protocol folks asking me to come for scans and clinical appointments at a date that will be tricky for us between homecoming and kiddos in school and all that I had already been ruminating on came up that much more and was compounded by how stuck we are in this Navy lifestyle, and how isolated.  I feel it so much more when the dates we are called out for are crunchy for us and I need to think through contingency plans.  We’re 2000 miles away from our families and all of the people that it feels more ok to impose upon to help with our kids when we need to jet set to the other side of the country to have pictures taken of my insides.  The friends we’ve made come and go and we’re in a season of rebuilding new relationships after moves and Navy attrition have taken confidante after confidante and friend after friend and continue to do so.

I feel very vulnerable sometimes.  I feel the heavy reality of how easily life can turn on a dime and how exposed and isolated I feel in those moments.

I am unsettled today.  Truth be told, I am unsettled by that last couple of sentences a lot lately.

It’s not that we don’t have wonderful friends and people who care about us.  We do.  They’re all just scattered at varying proximity from us.

It’s not that I don’t understand and give thanks and praise to God for how well everything has turned out so far.

It’s just that I’m so disabused of the notion that there could be any guarantees that it always will.

I am unsettled.  I live in a world where a husband and father of two kids could suddenly go and massacre innocents, walking miles in the middle of the night, and searching out people to harm–children to harm.  I live in a mind and a heart that feels as much empathy for him and his family as I do for the innocents who were slain because I am positive that such a thing could not have happened outside of the grievous mental wounds of war.  I ache at the horror of it and the terror of retaliations and the questions it stirs up.

I live in a world where one in a million tumors can hit you at random while you’re pregnant and then hit you again in all the ways the doctors say they probably never will.  I live in a world where I know people who are living the reality of those tumors doing what the doctors say almost never happens every day.

I live in a world where the assumed levels of support aren’t always accessible even in a life blessed with rich friendships and loving family.

I am unsettled today.  And sometimes when encountering the major and minor versions of this  uneasy world and it’s lack of easy answers and inexplicable pain, I think unsettled is the reaction that makes sense.

BE Rare, SEE Rare. A give-away for my Tumahversary

Read on down to the bottom.  In honor of my Tumahversary I’m doing my very first Bloggy giveaway!

I was reading a devotional yesterday by Lysa Terkeurst  and in it she relates a conversation she’d had with a friend.  Her friend had been encouraging her to stay the course on something hard, not for outward rewards, but because she wanted to please God.  She said these words to Lysa:  “Be rare.”

Rare.  I have a funny relationship with that word.  Most of you know that in June of 2010, when I was 16 weeks pregnant with my Lainey, I found out that I had a rare tumor called a paraganglioma on my carotid artery.  When the doctor called to give me the news he literally had to look it up on Google and Wikipedia to give me any information about it.  It was that rare.  I’ve read figures that say 1  out of every 100,000 people will have this tumor and figures that say 3-8 out of every million people with get a pheochromocytoma or a paraganglioma.

A year ago today I had that tumor removed at the National Institutes of Health (which is, incidentally 3000 miles away from my home ;)).  If you want to read that story check it out over here.  Today is my Tumahversary.

Everybody feels ordinary sometimes.  Every body feels like they are ‘nothing special really.’  Like there is nothing notable about them.  When I was diagnosed, suddenly there was something notable about me.  It made doctors look at me with interest, scrutinizing me like I was a lab specimen.  I could see them get excited and could almost hear them bragging to their cronies, ‘I had a patient with a carotid body tumor today!’  I thought for a good part of the year that perhaps I had underestimated ordinariness.  Truly, I think one of my biggest lessons of the year was to NOT devalue those things that are ordinary.  That every moment is precious if simply because it comes around only once in all of time.  The ordinary moment truly is, it turns out, rare.  In this way I’m learning to SEE rare, though I do  so VERY imperfectly.

But I think another lesson that God is teasing out of me in all of this is the challenge to BE rare.  Just as Lysa says.  Do I want to be the Zebra the doctors get excited to see at office visits because of my strange medical history and dogged insistence that we continue to be vigilant?  No.

Do I want to be the girl who is less afraid to take risks?  Less afraid to stick her neck out?  Less afraid to play the odds and believe that they could fall in my favor?  Less afraid to try even though I might fail?  Yes.  That’s the kind of rare I want to be….  the kind of rare that Lysa’s friend was referring to.

Did I tell you that I started entering contests and raffles this year?  I always saw myself as the girl who didn’t have the luck for those sorts of things.  I always sat and watched other people’s names be drawn out of a hat.  I never thought it was worth it to play the odds until the odds played me.

Now I give it a shot.  I’ve even won stuff.  Free books, jewelry, raffle prizes at MOPS, giveaways.  I figure if I’ve got 3-8 per million look, I might as well try to use it in my favor.

I’ve learned to stick my neck out…  to be audacious.

I want to be like some of the incredible friends I’ve met on the journey.  For some of these people those ‘improbable odds’ really socked them.  Not only did they get rare tumors, but they got rare tumors that recurred, or metastasized or were genetic.  They had the odds stack up against them and survived over and over.  They hike mountains and go mountain biking and boldly knock on doors to fight for themselves or for others who also play the lottery of life and come out with the improbable.  I want to face the scary stuff of life and come out swinging and still loving life, like these friends.

I also want to be like the gentleman I saw in the Naval Hospital Pharmacy this week.

Everyone at the Naval Hospital Pharmacy is cagey, impatient, tired of hurry up and wait and then more waiting.  We’ve all been to our appointment, or waited in Urgent Care for too long.

But this gentleman had a sparkle in his eye and he spoke with  kindness and cheer to everyone he saw.  He made his way up to Carolyn and I (we were getting medicine for an ear ache after a trip to the Urgent Care) and asked her and another little girl sitting across from us if they listened to their mamas.  They nodded shyly and he asked them if he knew why they should listen to their Mamas.  And then he told them that it’s because their Mamas love them, and because God asks us to listen to our Mamas and Dads.  He pulled out two golden dollar coins and gave them to the girls for being good listeners and then turned to me.  He told me that he thought I had one of the hardest and most important jobs ever and that he was grateful that I did it and took it seriously.  He, a Navy veteran, essentially thanked ME for my service.  As he walked away I watched him approach other service members and retirees with a kind word for all of them.  He was very much like the guy in the short film Validation just walking around giving encouragement to people.

What struck me in that drab environment full of impatient people just tired of waiting and barely masking their frustration in that was that this man was being rare.  He chose a different path.  Instead of blending in with the grey seats and the grey people surrounding him he was a flash of brightness encouraging those around him.

I’m on the cusp of a few changes that need to be made–as we all are often.  Hard changes, but the every day kind.  So many times I would get overwhelmed at the enormity of things.  Make excuses and say, “It’s unlikely that this will ever really work so why bother?”

It’s beginning to occur to me–I can make the choice to be rare.  I can let this challenge me to be audacious.  I can make the choice to stick it out.  I can make the choice to do the things I do, not for external validation, but to honor God.  I can make the choice to be a ray of light amongst grey drabness.  I can make the choice to stand up for what I believe in even when almost no one else sitting around me does.  I can BE rare in all these ways too.

Getting something “rare” is teaching me to BE RARE and to SEE RARE.  It’s teaching me to take the risks, and try, though it seems like failure is most likely.  It’s teaching me to SEE the exquisiteness of every moment because they all come around only once.

I’m one year out from surgery today.  It’s my Tumahversary.  And I am thankful that the lessons it took me so long to see and give words to are emerging.

So to celebrate I wanted to give away a book written by another person who–much more gracefully and poetically than I–has learned and is teaching others how to see the Rareness of each moment.  I want to give away a copy of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.

Now I don’t delude myself into thinking that I have scores of visitors at this here blog, the odds may truly be in your favor  (and I suspect more than a couple of you have already read this book–but maybe you know someone who needs a present ;)), but…  If you’d like to enter this giveaway, leave me a comment before Midnight tomorrow (2-24).  Tell me one way that you’ve been given the grace to BE rare or SEE rare.  I’ll pick names of commenters out of a hat and send a copy of the book someone’s way.  Go ahead.  Be audacious.  🙂

Evidence of Life

Five Minute Friday is here again already!!!  Sometimes it is my favorite thing all week.  This week’s word feels positively providential.

I cried a lot today.  It’s been that kind of week.

As I sat across from my pastor, earlier this week, spilling out all the things that had been held in for too long with no one to sit with me and catalog the damage, he told me some things that I needed to hear even though I didn’t really want to hear them.

He said my struggles were gospel struggles.

And he said my grief was real.

And he said my pain was real.

And he said they were good things and I was supposed to be feeling them.

I knew what he meant, but he worried that I would think that he was telling me it was good to be in pain.  I nodded that I understood that it was more about being in the process and being human and owning that humanity.

I clearly realized as I sat there that one of the things that I am feeling repeatedly right now looks something like, “I am in pain.  I am really in pain.  I don’t want to be in pain anymore.  Make it stop.”

I am impatient with my pain and with the feeling of these hard things.

Right now, all is tender….  I am alive to the ache and the pain of missing my husband.  I am alive to the grief and the deep soul cuts that came as a result of losing our church.  I am alive to the ache of worry and anxiety that come when tests are ordered and results are slow in coming.

I finally heard back on the MRI that I was awaiting news about.  After a day of being proactive and plucky, I learned that there was ‘no clinical significance’ for the abnormalities that were found.  This is good news.  A repeat MRI is indicated in a year and we’ll see if anything else comes out of that.

It’s good news, but I hung up the phone and cried for hours, and I do mean hours  For the tenderness, and the hurt of walking this without my love…  For the anxiety that has been held tight in my neck and my shoulders and behind my eyes for weeks now that seems now to have been in vain.

I am tender….  and I find that those things which indicate my aliveness…  Those moments of “I am in pain.  I am really in pain.  I don’t like it.  I want this to stop now,” need released often these days.

They spill over and I stand in it and I try to remember…

This tenderness, this teariness, this pain…   is evidence that I am alive.

Layers

So while I was driving today, I was thinking about layers.

It was a doozy of a morning around here.  My girls have decided to formally boycott getting up and getting dressed for school.  Every morning I wake them up a little before 7:30 a.m.  At 8 a.m. every morning (after a few prods and pushes), I let them know that they are running out of time.  At 8:20 every morning I start to panic and drill sergeant Mama shows up.  I yell and veins bulge and somehow… things start to move, but slowly…  at 8:40 every morning the panic mode goes into hyper-drive because we are now on the cusp of officially being late.  At 8:51 every  morning I look at the clock on the van and wonder how in the heck 11 full minutes have passed since the last time I looked at it because it shouldn’t take that long for two girls to finish up the last minute tasks of putting coats on and getting strapped in, and I hastily drive Carolyn to the student drop off spot because she doesn’t have time to walk to the playground from the school entrance connected to base housing.  At 8:51:30, I berate the children for us doing this Every. Single. Day.  At 8:52 I feel profoundly guilty especially at the gnawing feeling in my stomach which suggests that I have just set my daughters up to have the worst days of their lives at school by being Drill Sergeant Mama for a full 32 minutes and I soften my tone and remind them that I love them and that we’re going to be ok and we all can have a good day and that I’m sorry that sometimes I use a mean voice.  At 8:53, Carolyn arrives on the cusp of lateness which Carolyn tells me means that the bell hasn’t rung yet but all the kids are already on the rug.  At 9:03 Abigail and I arrive at her preschool, late for that one too, I hug her, I kiss her, and I marvel at all the together mothers who make my puddling mess of frazzled look so darned bad each and every morning and I try not to cry on my steering wheel again.

So yes.  I had that kind of morning this morning.

And then immediately after that morning, I hastily drove to the parking lot of my church where the pastor of our new church was waiting to meet with me because I had gotten to that point where letting things rattle around and bounce off of my insides over and over and over again ricocheting here and there around my head was simply too much to do.  And here…  before THAT meeting of vulnerable goo I had had a morning that nearly broke me in two.

I talked in this meeting and I poured out the grief that I still feel in such intensity over the loss of our friends and our family and our involvement  as a result of the loss of our church.  I poured out the stress and the weariness and fatigue I am feeling in the midst of this deployment and the anxiety and unease and overwhelmedness I still feel when I am processing this year post-tumor and the ways that medical surveillance will always be a part of my life, and the added anxiety and unease and overwhelmedness I’ve been feeling as a result of this “bonus” MRI and the somewhat unclear findings of it and the….  Waiting, waiting, waiting…  (We’re going on a fully 2 and a half weeks now) for my doctor to read the report and make a recommendation about an action plan.

As I was driving today I was thinking about layers…  I was thinking about the layers that I live and struggle in:  The…  Tired Mommy trying to get her kids off to school, trying to make sure I’m not too hard/too soft, trying to balance the attention that they need and the downtime I crave, trying to be a good Mom and the Failure feelings that creep in on all of us who are part of this profession of Mommyhood.

And I was thinking about the layer of being a woman whose husband is on deployment.  The tiredness of that, the sheer attrition of it…  The stress and the anxiety and the deep in the bones ache of longing for my love.

And the layer of medical anxiety past and present.

And the layer of loss of church and very, very real grief that doesn’t make sense to anyone, but is really, really real and must be felt and worked through.

There are these layers that I exist in and struggle in, in various degrees and at different times every. single. day.

I’m sure you have them too…  The every day life struggles and the normal struggles of relationships and the struggles of your deepest heartaches and fears and anxieties.

We balance them and juggle them and navigate them all every single day.

My layers were validated today and I needed that.  It was good.  It was necessary.  I was grateful.

But as I thought about my layers, I didn’t feel sorry for myself.  Instead I felt grateful.

In all of those layers…  those layers that when spoken back to me and laid out for me to see by someone else… With that outside perspective I can see their potential to be soul-crushing and I can understand why I was full to the brim of coping on my own and needed to find a safe place to lean it all on today.

But in all of those layers, I am still somehow sustained.  I am borne up under them.  It’s not perfect and it’s not clean and it’s not always pretty.  Often it is messy, frayed, shocking.

But I am borne up.  I am shored up.  And I am held as they pelt and lash like the winds and rains that whipped up around us during that drive of frazzlement that got the kids settled at school today.

In those layers I see my weakness.  I see my strength.  I see His light shining through the cracked-pot, crack-pot chinks in my armor.

And deep within me, somehow, I have to catch my breath for the beauty.

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Riding the Rolls and Yaws and Pitches

Five Minute Friday!  

So I hit a wall.  I hit a wall and I had a few days where I cried a lot and I felt miserable.  And I read comments that some of you sweet folks left.  And then I remembered.

I remembered the numbness.  I remembered how closing myself off from the awful feelings and trying to ‘suck it up and deal’ made me forget how to feel.  I remembered the “On and Off Switch” that got stuck.

I remembered John 1:1-18 and the admonishment to memorize it and root it deep into my brain and my heart and to remember that the WORD became FLESH.  That Jesus was HUMAN.  And that I am called to become more and more human–to follow hard after Him and to watch the work of redemption craft me into more and more of who I was created to be each day.

But I have to stay open.  I have to let myself feel.  I have to be ready to roll and yaw and pitch in this amazing journey of life.  I have to remember that sometimes those who are most blessed realize those blessings in circumstances that look more…  HARD than blessed to the naked eye.

So as I walk into this New Year…  I can’t imagine what kinds of curve balls and changes and new journeys it will bring.  I find myself apprehensive about new years because of the number of curve ball years it seems we’ve had.  And yet the lesson in that is that if I stay open to the every day….  If I take it just a day at a time, a moment at a time, an emotion at a time…  I can see the gifts of right now.  I can feel the feelings.  I can become more me.  And I can ride out the waves and the curve balls as they come.  After all, His grace has allowed me to this far.