Tuesday, March 1, 2016

when you are done

This will probably read more like a quick update instead of my usual posts. It's been a while. I am not entirely sure when I last wrote, or what I wrote about. Probably Grace. Or thanksgiving. And I am sure there was certainly some angst woven somewhere in there. Maybe even a curse word or two.

I can be all about the angst. Sure, there is a time and place, but it's heavy, man. I mean, it's a lot for one person to carry. All. The, Time.

I think it is inherently good to be honest about areas of necessary growth. A huge area for me {although it can be a positive thing} is my emotions. They own me. I feel things deeply. For all the things. All. The. Time. This can be problematic when I have been wounded, or when my emotions are overspent on the same scenarios.

But, with the New Year we ventured back out into the pews or chairs. Among the old and the new. Heavy with liturgy or twinkling with lights under purposely exposed ducts.

I began to feel like Edward Norton's Narrator in Fight Club. He kept going to different support groups to find meaning. Connection. I keep going to all these different churches. Always looking for connection and meaning, but ending up feeling tragically more lost.  

Nothing in these places of worship have changed. I have changed. My heart has finally accepted that we are all broken. There is something so freeing about letting go of all of the junk and looking ahead without any expectations. Expectations that could never be met by people. There is something to be said for sticking it out. Even when it is uncomfortable and difficult. Especially when it gets uncomfortably difficult.

This past Sunday was communion. My best friend's teenage son had not experienced  communion at a Lutheran church before. He was accustomed to walking up and taking the bread and grape juice. The rails and elements were foreign to him. When he was handed the wafer, he stared at it in his hand, not knowing what to do with it. I looked at him, pointed to the wafer, and then pointed to my mouth. **blinkblink** He stared at me quizzically. I whispered to him and he then ate the wafer {discovering the wine was a whole other thing}

This interaction stayed with me. It was me. It is all of us. Or it can be.

I was feeling so lost. Looking everywhere. But, when I looked down, there was Jesus.

And He was there the whole time. He was waiting. I hadn't known what to do, but it didn't matter. I had been carrying him around from place to place in my hand like that wafer, but He wanted me to receive Him. Again. And you know what? All of the heavy stuff I had been carrying around, like a shackled prisoner, just faded away.

I was ready to release it. I was ready to be done.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Unattainable

November is probably my favorite month. I adore autumn. And Thanksgiving. Late this afternoon, as I was leaving work, the sun was starting its early descent and there was a distinct, crisp bite to the air as storm clouds rolled across the sky. I breathed in deeply and felt invigorated, like in that brief second, I believed that anything was possible.

Sometimes, I feel stuck. I start things, and for whatever reason, I don't finish them. Maybe it's just part of my quirky personality. I lose interest. Or simply move on. Some things, however, feel unfinished. I think about these things as if they were completely unattainable. But, you know what? They're not.

Tonight I drove by the plaza and the sight of the Christmas tree surprised me. It reminded me that seasons eventually change. Abruptly, even. The days eventually get shorter. In a few weeks I will turn 41. A new year. A fresh start of sorts. And I want to make the most of it because these years are going by at breakneck speed. I want to be able to look back and know that it mattered.

So what now? If I am able, I want to go back to school and finish my degree. I know it'll be challenging and take awhile, and maybe it's all the magic in the air, but I feel as if it's within my reach.

Regardless of what the future brings, my prayer is that it will be filled with endless possibilities to love. And to love others well.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Unexpected

It was supposed to be a quick check-in with my doctor. My foot was bothering me. My ankle would swell and all of my walking I had done in Washington seemed to have exasperated the issue. My doctor told me my arch had fallen. She instructed me to stop wearing flats and get some inserts. Easy enough. As I was checking out, she reminded me that since I was 40, I should stop in for my first mammogram.

I had already been gone longer than I had wanted. After all, school was gearing back up and I had so much to do. I didn't want to take any more time. I don't know why, but I decided to go anyway.

It was very routine. The "squeeze" didn't hurt as much as I had anticipated. As I wrapped the open-in-the-front gown around me, the technician said I'd get the all-clear postcard in the mail.

I did not receive that postcard, but a call instead. They suspected something and asked that I come back in nine days to have the images redone. I tried not to think too much about it, and I was so busy with work anyway.

This mammogram was different. They weren't gentle. I sucked in my breath and tried not to move. The machine beeped and I looked at the resulting image on the monitor. It was like looking at endless galaxies the likes of which I would never see; the white spot shined bright. I blinked in disbelief.

Within moments I was waiting in a different department for an ultrasound. I tried not to hyperventilate. I focused on my breathing. Deep breath in, slowly blow it out.

The tech struggled to find the area as I waited, bare breast, arm over my head while she called for the radiologist to come in. She froze the image. I stared at it. It looked like a spider or a weird starburst or some demented sea creature with tentacles. The radiologist got right to the point and stated that I needed a biopsy. I was scheduled the next day.

The biopsy wasn't as bad as I had imagined. It only took about 10 minutes. I tried to make light of the situation by telling the doctor that my husband wasn't happy about another man fondling my left breast. He laughed nervously and I instantly regretted saying it. But I couldn't take it back.

And I couldn't make the mass disappear either. After placing a titanium clip to mark the area, the kind nurse cleaned and bandaged me. She said that the results would be available on September 1. A nurse would call me in the nine o'clock hour.

The waiting has been harder than I thought. Educating myself of the terminology in preparation for the call has been dizzying. Discovering that my mass is presenting like a malignancy is sobering and scary.

And yet, I feel at peace. I want for it to be nothing. A mistake. Benign. Anything but cancer. But, if it turns out that it is cancer, I know two things for sure. One: God is good. Always. And two: I am not alone.

In these past few days I have vacillated between feeling emotionally fragile and feeling extremely brave. Such a dichotomy. But aren't we all? I want to choose brave.

But the sun still rises. I have been looking at things a bit differently since all this began. I have been specifically looking for the good. It is there. Good in each day. Good to be seen when we take the time to look. That, and taking things one day at a time. That is my goal.

All I know is that in this time of waiting and in the unknown, I have been changed. I can't quite explain it, or even pinpoint what it is exactly, but it is there just underneath. And it's permanent.

And somehow, it feels necessary.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Of Fear...

Tonight is the fifth night out of my normalcy. My routines. My surroundings, which are comfortable and customary. Tonight, I sit with a cup of hot tea as the cool, Washington breeze blows sympathetically and my curly hair dries in the night air.

I should be tired, but I am not. I just spent the last 36 hours away. Camping and exploring towns and trails and asking questions about the area as quaint towns popped up as the miles wore on.

It was wonderful. Everything except for 2 AM. You see, at 2 AM I was awake. Too much coffee too late in the evening necessitated a trip to the camp bathrooms which were about 100 feet away. They were easy to spot from our tent trailer but the grounds were full of obstacles. Logs. Rocks. Shrubbery. And the possibility of God-knows-what? Bears? Creepers lurking in the dark?

I talked myself into being brave and slipped my flip-flops on over my socks and prepared to venture out. The flashlight that was left by the door wouldn't turn on, so I flipped on the flashlight mode on my phone. The trailer door squeaked as I thrust it open and my chest caught with the sharp, unwelcome cold air. I stumbled towards my destination as my heart raced.

Upon attempting to return to camp - still terrified, of course - I couldn't see very well. My "flashlight" barely illuminated the area directly in front of me. I kept running into logs and shrubs. As I walked around them, I quickly ventured off course; veering away from my intended endpoint. I mean, we're talking about a person who gets turned around in a shopping mall.

When I finally emerged onto the asphalt loop, I couldn't see our site. At all. I know it wasn't rational, but it was the middle of the night and I was temporarily lost. In a forest. And I freaked out. For a few bleak seconds, terrible scenarios played through my mind. Then I remembered the sites were
numbered, found the stake of the number I was standing next to, and realized I was three sites
over. I walked to the right and eventually saw the camper. It was like Christmas Day.

After the adrenaline subsided, I wondered why I hadn't asked for help. I didn't want to bother anyone. I didn't want to wake anyone up, not even to ask how to use the the real flashlight.

Sometimes, you should ask for help.

And the other thing I took away from my excursion? Be brave. Don't let fear paralyze.

"Hope is the only thing stronger than fear." - Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

I have always adored the truth in that quote. It's time.

Sometimes, you will end up somewhere unexpected. And that's okay.

The trail narrowed and tree carcasses lined the path. In the distance, concrete pillars could be seen. The remnants of a bridge to cross the river. Rocks and logs blocked the other entrance from the road. This path was closed. But the trail? The trail continued on, leading brave people to unexpected places.

Be brave. Be fearless.

I want to be that person.

Yes, a person who hopes and trusts. Wherever I'm led.