Friday, November 20, 2015

All the Drafts that Never Were Posts

I'm doing some fall cleaning.  I can't cook in a dirty kitchen.  I can't create in a cluttered room.  I can't write in a cluttered blog.  So I cleaned out all the posts that have sat here as drafts.  It's been a year since I've even logged in here. My, how times flies! I was not at all surprised to see how I ended the latest post: I feel...

It's taken me a year to even begin to think about how to finish that sentence.  Now, maybe with a clean draft box, I'll be able to finish that sentence and to give you the answer to the question that I get asked often, "How are you doing?"


 October 17, 2014

Hi strangers! I've just returned from what had become a tradition: post surgery breakfast.  We went to the Buttered Tin and it was ah-mazing!  Before that we were at St. Joes for a minor surgical procedure to get my port removed!! OH. HAPPY. DAY.  I knew that this day would be the sign of the end of the journey.  And it's here.  And I feel like I am five years old and I am feeling so many emotions and cannot figure out how to identify them, let alone process them.  I feel

JULY 19th, 2014

So, It's been awhile.  A really, really long while.  How have ya'll been?  (I can say ya'll because I just got back from Tennessee.) I got see family that I haven’t seen in years. It’s amazing how the bond of Christ can keep you close even when you’re far in distance.  I felt their prayers and encouragement and tangible answers to prayer so strongly throughout the whole journey so it was so exciting to be able to hug them!!  I go to do the same thing with my aunt and uncle who just moved home after years of serving as missionaries in the Philippines.  I have a new found view of the body of Christ and a deep, deep appreciation for how God designed us to carry one another's burdens and to love like Him.  It was a powerful and emotional month. 

While in Tennessee we celebrated my grandma “GG”s 85th birthday and collectively wrote out 85 memories, character traits and messages that speak to the amazing woman she is.  I am so grateful for the strong Christian women in my family.  It is such a gift.  I pray that I am just another link in that legacy passed down.

Another Page in Our Adventure Book and TOMORROW!
May 29th, 2014 

Rick and I just returned from a long weekend in Chicago.  I surprised him!! I have a lot to make up for…remember the surprise he got when I woke him from a dead sleep in February of 2013?  He is the best travel and adventure buddy there is.  The trip was just another way of God showing how he loves us and works those details out!  We drove a friend’s car down and dropped it off in a northern suburb, took a train into Chicago and checked into our hotel.  I did  that “name your own price” thing for a four star hotel near Millennium Park and got a GREAT deal.  Rick told me not too long ago that I didn’t use my “cancer card” as much as I could have.  So when the concierge asked if we were celebrating anything, I was honest and said we were celebrating 11 years of happily ever after and the end of chemo.  Of course that got our room upgraded to a suite with windows for walls that overlooked Navy Pier on one side and the Chicago River on the other.  We could see the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier from the bathtub!  We did the tourist thing, ate good food, looked back on the last year and made plans and goals for the next.  Right before we left, we squeezed in one more adventure and took a Segway tour of Chicago.  I can’t believe how much fun that was.  Then we hopped on the Amtrak train for a relaxing ride back to St Paul.  
The following weekend there was a wedding at church.  I serve as the wedding coordinator for our church, just another hat I wear!  I love weddings and this was one of my favorites.  The woman that did the music centered everything on Christ being the rock on which you build a healthy marriage, the couple did a rock ceremony that Tim narrated and all the songs followed the theme, my favorite being Cornerstone by Hillsong.  It filled me with such joy to see how God has taken Rick and I, two broken and flawed lives and intertwined them with Him and has made something so strong and beautiful.  He has seen us through the difficulty of infertility and miscarriage, he has seen us through unemployment and now cancer.  And we are still standing.  And I am so very thankful to be married to Rick.  He’s staying true to his vows to love me and laugh with me through the good times and bad, in sickness and in health and richer or poorer.  And God has kept us clinging to Himself all along.  I remember being in middle school and wondering what my future husband would be like. It’s safe to say that God went beyond what I could have asked for or imagined.  Thanks for being you, Rick and for loving me so well.

Now. Guess what tomorrow is.  Yes, it’s  hump day.  But.  It is also MY VERY LAST CHEMO TREATMENT.  So I should be over the moon with excitement, right?  Then why am I not?  It could take me a while to work through all the emotions I’m feeling and I won’t bore you with my thinking/typing out loud processing of it all.  Let’s just say that chemo treatments have been a part of my life for the last fourteen months.  I spent some very great quality time with friends and family.  I’ve had some great conversations with nurses and other cancer patients.  I’ve had some great quiet time with the Lord.  I’m not really ready for it to be all over.  Even though each appointment I went to, I knew they were pumping me full of poison, it was poison that was keeping the cancer away.  It was kind of like a safety net that after tomorrow will be gone.  It’s starting a whole new way to trust that God’s still got this. He has my days numbered and it’s my responsibility to choose to live them well.  What I have experienced the last seventeen months has changed me and will stay with me forever.

Out With the Old, In the New (and so much more comfortable, I hope)
May 14th, 2014

Here’s a little update on where things are in my treatment.  Yesterday was one of my favorite days of this recovery process.  Rick and I drove to Plymouth to have Dr. Kadkhodayan take out the incredibly uncomfortable and super painful expanders that  I've lived with for the last fourteen months.  Rick made a comment about the poor quality of our date.  I told him that if it truly was a date, there should be food and not instructions to be NPO after midnight.  The day surgery center was a fine-tuned machine.  I’m sure if Disney had day surgery centers, it would resemble this one.  The pre-op and surgery itself went really went and feeling great, pumped full of some really good meds, we headed home.  But first we made a stop for breakfast.  Had to make it a legitimate date.  I can strongly recommend the Good Day Café.  Delicious.  I made it home and am hoping that once the pain meds wear off and the surgical pain subsides that I will be free from the pain of those hard plastic deflated expanders.

He said, “Come Rest”
MAY 8th, 2014

Hi friends. Remember me?!  How are you? 

I'm doing well. Thanks for asking.   I've been celebrating up a storm as I near the end of this crazy journey.  I celebrated with my parents in Florida.  They pretty much put their lives on hold to help us through this.  They canceled vacations, postponed trips to Africa, cleaned my toilets, drove me to Plymouth for weekly appointments, organized my Prayer Warriors and so much more.  I will never be able to thank them enough for the cleaning, driving, shopping, Ella-watching, communicating, organizing, praying, loving and everything else that they've done for me and my family over the last 18 months.  If that is not laying your life down for others, I don’t know what is.  We relaxed on the beach for five days and ate some really good food.  It was wonderful!  Did I mention that I relaxed?! I think that as I have been fighting this cancer, there came a point where I thought I could do anything and everything. So I did.  I don’t know if it was the extra energy boost from the steroids or if it was more of a mind thing.  Whatever it was, at some point I resumed life as normal, which for a normal person isn’t even normal.  So when I was actually able to relax…I got myself a “holy talking-to” from the Holy Spirit.  For the last couple of years I’ve been very intentional about Sabbath rest. But those other 6 days were fair game for as much as I could pack into them.  Needless to say, things will be changing for me.  I’m okay that it took the beaches of Florida to help me realize that!

He Said, “Share My Story”
April 11th, 2014

I am a little bit of a social person and never like doing things on my own.  Never.  I’ve never gone to a movie alone, I’ve never eaten alone, I just don’t do much alone.  It’s much more fun to do things with others.  So when I decided, rather last minute, to go alone to a Beth Moore conference, I was feeling a worried for myself.  The conference was sold out, but I signed up to set up a booth for Compassion International and after my shift was over I was free to go the conference.  So I did.  I was already in the building so when they opened the doors I was able to get great seats for me and a “friend.”  I couldn’t have people thinking that I was there alone.  I’m sure I was concocting a plan about a friend not showing up or something to account for the empty seat next to me.  Once the auditorium was beginning to fill up, a woman asked if the empty seat was available.  Do you know what I did? I said no.  I lied!  Oh no, Melissa.  Not the way you want to start off a Christian conference.  A little while later another woman asked if the seat was open, this time I said yes it was.  This stranger and I began talking.  She had come to the cities with her husband while he was on a business trip and she saw this conference would be happening and signed up.  We discussed how unlike each of us it was to come to something like this alone.  Then someone I had met the day before recognized me, said she had read most of my blog and asked if I would be interested in getting together sometime to fill her in on my “story.”  This piqued the interest of the woman I was sitting next to.  She asked what my “story” was.  So I gave her a very abbreviated version.  Capitalizing on God’s faithfulness throughout everything.  She was very teary as I shared.  She told me that what I shared with her was exactly what she needed to hear.  It was why she registered for the conference…to see God active and moving.  She wasn’t feeling him in her life and needed proof that he was working somewhere.  That’s when I realized that while it was happening to me, like everything else this was his story.  At the end of the conference he asked me to be willing to share His story and my part in it whenever asked.  So I will.  It may be done with fear and trembling, but I will do it.


Messages in Music
March 20th, 2014

Even before the diagnosis, God has used the lyrics in songs to comfort me.  It started with “Desert Song” by Hillsong.  I had only heard it once, but when I needed to keep my mind focused on God, a few phrases from that song and some Bible verses were all the promises I needed to stay calm.  That’s become somewhat of a cancer theme song for me.  It is a great reminder that God provides for all our needs according to His glorious riches.  It’s a great reminder that God is using this situation to refine me…to transform me.  Like the story of how a silversmith knows when his piece is done.  He watches it so closely and when he can see his reflection in it, it’s done.  God has a long, long way to go with me, but some perfect day I will reflect God’s image.  I will bring praise.  Regardless of the season I am in, I will worship and I will bring praise.

Following oh so close by another song from Hillsong, “Oceans”.  I discovered this song before it hit the radio and before anyone else around me knew about it.  It was through this song that I came to a deeper understanding of what God was doing in my life.  It also reminded me of what happens when you let your God take you deeper than you could ever wander and then take your eyes off Him.  Just like what I did for those brief minutes in the tea room when I thought about the cancer metastasizing to my lungs and almost had a panic attack, like Peter taking his eyes off Jesus. His grace abounds in deepest waters.  My faith has been made stronger in the presence of my Savior. 

There are so, so many others.  They sit in a special file on my phone called Chemo Playlist.  Everyone should have a Chemo playlist!  Not long ago I was given a free ticket to A Worship Night with All Sons and Daughters.  I loved everything about this night, especially because I didn’t know all the songs.  I had to focus on the words and it was an amazing experience and one of those times you know God is being glorified.  Pure worship.  There was a point when one of the singers was reading a passage from Psalms that carried a very specific promise for me.  And when she read it at the same I read the words on the screen, the Spirit did everything but smack me upside the head and said this was God’s promise to me.  How merciful of God to be so loving and so caring about all of me, he knows that cancer is taking center stage in my life, but he knows those hopes and dreams that I have tucked away in the deepest parts of my heart and he chose that moment to speak to those dreams.  Oh how he loves me! And you!