Discovering What Remains

You hem me in , behind and before. Psalm 139:5


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Mars Hill

I’m jumping in again with Bailey Jean’s Blog-tember Challenge today!

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Today’s prompt: Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you’ve been to or a favorite vacation

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I have a traveler’s soul, and I’ve been immensely blessed to have traveled the world.  I still dream of dropping everything to just travel the world, experience different cultures, and immerse myself in the beauty of this world that our God graciously created.

This past May, I finally took my mom to Europe.  Prior to May, I had been to Europe 4 times, yet at 60 my mom had never been out of the country.  It was her turn, and I was of course more than happy to accompany her : )

Our trip began in Rome, took us down to Pompeii, over to Athens, and through the Greek Islands and Turkey. We were a part of a tour group affiliated with Liberty University. This particular tour focused on many biblically historic sites—Corinth, Ephesus, Rome, the Catacombs, Patmos, Crete, and of course (my favorite) The Vatican.

Greece was new to me. I had never traveled this far south in Europe, but was anxious to check it off my travel bucket list. The Acropolis was especially important to me given my BA in Art History.

Before ascending the steep uphill climb to the famed Acropolis, we climbed Mars Hill.  After marveling at the view, our group gathered and read from Acts 17:22-31.  Reading from the word of God while standing in the exact spot Paul stood where he was in direct view of the pagan temple, and implored the Athenians to believe in the one true God was unbelievably moving.

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After reading from Scripture, we stopped and worshiped God on Mars Hill singing the hymn How Great Thou Art. {click on ‘Mars Hill’ for a link to the video posted on YouTube}

For those few minutes the rest of the world faded away as we stood in awe of God’s magnificent creation.

You don’t have to be in foreign lands to marvel at the magnificence of God.  But its these places, and these memories that I turn to when I begin to feel doubt creep in.  They serve as a reminder of how great God truly is.

 

—-a close runner up was this magnificent view of God’s eternal promise on the ride down from Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland—-

Pilatus rainbow


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Fun Facts

I’m jumping in again with Bailey Jean’s Blog-tember Challenge today!

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Today’s prompt: “Most people don’t know this but…”

How about a few random facts ?!

-as much as I plan and organize, I’m a huge procrastinator. i justify it as, I’m planning for my procrastination.

-Real Housewives = guilty pleasure.

-peonies are my favorite flower. Tulips are a close second.

-I can quote almost any episode of The Big Bang Theory…and Friends

-In high school I was on the varsity swim team as a freshman. I also swam club until I graduated.

-I’m an introvert through and through, but it’s also easy for me to pretend to be an extrovert in certain situations.

-I love studying fashion, but on a daily basis I’m not that fashionable…unless stitch fix styles me!

 

What about you, friends? What’s something new you can share with the class?


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Halcyon Days

After the shock, that gut punch of a diagnosis, life was calm, peaceful, and even blissful.  Cynics would call it the calm before the storm.

We had survived the initial blow from the diagnosis, and there was hope.  And while this was the only hope that we would have, it was there.  And it was powerful.  It allowed us to enjoy each other one last time as a family.  But that’s not where the story ended.

After the night in the ER, my dad was immediately admitted to the hospital, scheduled for a Chest Tube Thoracostomy which remained attached to his lung with a lovely little drainage bucket until the day he was discharged.  About 3 liters of fluid were drained off my dad’s lungs.  He was that close to death.

A lot of people asked why my dad didn’t go to the doctor when he started feeling bad.  He did.  Multiple times.  Our former primary care doctor never once listened to my dad’s lungs.  If he had, he might have heard the gathering fluid.  Continually, my dad was told that he had allergies.  It was my dad’s longtime friend and dentist that told him something didn’t look right.  A few days later, it was my dad’s ENT doctor that ordered the chest x-ray that sent us to the ER that night on June 3rd.  There is no point at ranting and raving about the ineptitude of our former primary care doctor.  But I will reiterate the value, and extreme importance of seeking a second opinion.  Especially when it comes to health.

On the day of my dad’s discharge (oh, what a glories day!), the pulmonologist removed the chest tube, and we were free!  Taking a few more days to recoup, my dad soon resumed business of usual.  Or, as usual as a stage 4 lung cancer patient can be.  As a small business owner (Genesis Networks), the world didn’t stop for cancer, and neither did his business. Daddy was back to work before I could even accept that he even had cancer.  It seemed as if, even for a split second, life was back to normal.  We were going to make it through this!

Rounds of chemo were scheduled, and while they were intense, daily life wasn’t that different.  There were signs that things had changed.  But I could feasibly ignore them.  I could see the fight in his eyes.  My superhero dad would beat this!

After the first set of chemo, there was a follow up CT scan to see if the chemo had any effect on the tumor.  While the oncologist reviewed the scans, our little family jetted down to Port Aransas, a gulf coast town that has a special place in our hearts.

We were at peace for those four days in Port Aransas. There was no cancer there.

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As blissful as those four mid-September beach days were, reality came back like a speeding bullet that hit us square in the heart.  The results from the follow up CT scan were not good.

As the three of us sat in that tiny oncologist exam room, tanned and refreshed from a four day cancer free vacation, we were once again punched in the gut with more bad news.  The rounds of chemo had no effect on the tumor.  In fact, the cancer had moved further up toward the brain.

At this point, we heeded the advice of our own doctors and sought a second opinion at one of the top cancer centers, MD Anderson.

During the time between the CT scan results and the appointment with MD Anderson in the first week of October, my dad’s health finally started to deteriorate and show serious signs of stage 4 Lung Cancer. Not only was the second round of chemo more intense, the sheer physical pain the cancer caused was becoming unbearable.  There was another hospital stay. Morphine was prescribed.

The Halcyon Days had turned into highs and lows.  Good days and bad days, never knowing what would be thrown at us.

Right before the trip to MD Anderson, there was yet another hospital stay.  This one was the shortest, but the hardest.  That night, the pulmonologist came in and sat down.  Graceful and kind in his delivery of hard news, it was his face that gave away what was coming.  Tonight the news was “you have, at best, one month left to live.”

The news brought all three of us to our knees.  It was unfathomable that we were at this point.  It had come so fast.  Too fast.

We still went to MD Anderson, however there wasn’t much they could do.  The day after returning from the trip, a Wednesday, was a great day!  My dad had a twinkle in his eye, and sarcastic comments coming out of his mouth.  He was himself.

But then Thursday, October 13th dawned.  This was the day where everything changed.


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INTJ

I’m jumping in again with Bailey Jean’s Blog-tember Challenge today!

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Today’s Prompt:  Let’s talk personality types. Introverted? Extroverted? Unsure-troverted? ;) If you know your Myers-Briggs type, tell us about it! If not, you can take this similar test and share your results.

I’m a HUGE fan of personality tests.  They absolutely fascinate me, mostly because I generally find them to be disturbingly accurate.

According to Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTJ. Fun fact—the INTJ personality is considered to be the most enigmatic and controversial personality type.  INTJ’s compromise about 2% of the US population—INTJ women are even rarer, making up just .8%.

INTJ’s are generally described as highly intelligent and perplexingly mysterious. Most times, we do not seek or enjoy the spotlight. INTJ’s also have the unusual combination of both decisiveness and vivid imagination. Our brains are like a giant chess board where all of the pieces are constantly moving. While we are idealists, we are also cynics at the same time.

We are also known to be:

  • book worms
  • independent
  • decisive
  • original
  • insightful
  • perfectionists

Some famous INTJ’s
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State
Thomas Jefferson, a former U.S. president
John F. Kennedy, a former U.S. president
Walter White (“Heisenberg”) from “Breaking Bad”
Gandalf the Grey from The Lord of the Rings
Gregory House from “House, M.D.”
Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory

 

Just so you know, I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested : )

 


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“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one” –George R.R. Martin

I’m jumping in with Bailey Jean’s Blog-tember Challenge today!

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Today’s prompt is: What’s your current reading list?  Or what have you read that you’d recommend?

I love reading.  A lot.  In general, I constantly have a book with me if I know there might be some spare time. I know, nerd alert!

I have a fair amount of books on my Kindle, but mostly I still prefer to hold the real thing in my hand.  There is just something about the weight and smell of a book that a Kindle just can’t replace.  Walking into Barnes & Noble and being immersed in the aroma of coffee and new books is heaven.

Books

Currently reading:

The Bible–Currently in the book of Hosea and Job

The Tie that Binds—Kelly Leigh Halsch

Love Does—Bob Goff

Speak—Nish Weiseth

Double Down—Mark Halperin & John Heilemann

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness—Andrew Peterson

 

On Deck:

Redeeming Love- Francine Rivers

The Greatest Journey: American’s in Paris- David McCullough

Make it Happen- Lara Casey

Women of the Word- Jen Wilkin

Plan B- Pete Wilson

Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged- John Piper, David Mathis

Kingdom Journeys- Seth Barnes

Daring Greatly- Brené Brown

 

Forever Recommendations:

Harry Potter Series- JK Rowling

The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseini

Game of Thrones Series- George R.R. Martin

The Chronicles of Narnia-CS Lewis

The Poisonwood Bible-Barbara Kingsolver

Anything by Jane Austen

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

 

 

Happy Reading!


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2 promises and 1 request

Lung Cancer is the number one deadliest cancer.  Lung Cancer also receives the least amount of  funding.  There is a huge stigma surrounding Lung Cancer–that nasty little habit that an estimated 42 million Americans have.  Smoking.  But here’s the thing, no one deserves to die.

Yes, my dad smoked. His habit varied throughout his life.  There is no excuse for addiction, yet everyone has one.  It just so happens that my dad’s compulsion to smoke filled that addictive component in his body, and I believe helped him stay sober for over 15 years.

Lung cancer moves fast. By the time my dad was diagnosed, the tumor had consumed ½ of his left lung. The cancer had also begun to spread down to his gut, and was on the march up toward his brain.  I’ll be very blunt here. Cancer is a bitch.  It’s nasty, vicious and takes no prisoners.

———-

After the doctor left us to digest everything, my mom was stunned in disbelief.  My dad and I had tears in our eyes…we both subconsciously knew.  We all just stared at each other in an attempt to digest what we were just told, and understand how this was going to drastically change our lives.

Breaking the silence, my dad shook his head and said, “I’m sorry guys…it was a good ride.”

The tears finally broke free and streamed down his face as he looked down.  Part of my brain had always believed that my dad was invincible.  My dad was the strongest person I knew. He had overcome so much in his life.  June 3, 2011 shattered this misconstrued belief that I held for 24 years.

We discussed a few things, and made some phone calls. At some point in the haze of that night, my mom stepped out. As I sat next to my dad on the ER stretcher, he took my hand. Looking me in the eye, more tears flowed from both of our eyes.

“You have to take care your mama now, because I can’t anymore.”

Tears fell from my eyes as I digested the truth, responsibility, and this new reality stemming from one simple request. But there was more…

“And I need you to promise me two things. Don’t let me die in a hospital and when I do go, don’t put me in a box.”

Laughter billowed out of me like water gushing from a hydrant. It was a loud, deep laugh that came from the soul.

“I’m serious.  And don’t let you mother put me on the mantle either!”

I looked my daddy in the eye, those blue grey eyes that I inherited, squeezed his hand, and said “okay, I promise.”

Much more needed laughter flowed from both of us as my mom came back into the room. We didn’t tell her what we had talked about. It was our secret.

As we updated the necessary legal paperwork a few weeks later, everyone was told only of the 2 requests and all agreed.  Despite the humor in the 2 requests, I took them very seriously because I knew that I was entrusted with making sure they would come to fruition when the time came. In those moments that came much sooner than anticipated, I had to stand my ground.  As for the 1 request, no one was ever told.  I only told my mom a few months ago as we discussed the future now that she had been laid off after 30 years at one company.

I couldn’t see it at the time, but it is so clear that God’s hand was in every minute detail of this time in my life.  God knew that my dad would entrust his final wishes with me. He knew that I would need to be present for his last breath.  He knew that others would want to try life support.  And He knew that being a part of the final moments would give me the strength to defend my dad’s wishes.

God’s hand in our story was relentless.  Every detail planned out.  Everything had a purpose.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:11a


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T H R E E | “When I grow up I want to be…”

I’m jumping in with Bailey Jean’s Blog-tember Challenge today!

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“When I grow up I want to be a missionary.” When I was 5, the answer was always teacher. A few years ago it was archivist. Actually, I would still love to be an archivist. I do have a master’s degree in Museology after all. But my heart longs to be a missionary. I want to ditch my comfort zone, and my boring 9-5 and GO and serve the lease of these. I want to love on those who don’t receive love from anyone else. I want to show them through my love, that GOD loves them. I want to really experience authentic community in the most vulnerable of ways.

What I’m struggling with right now is determining if this is simply a selfish wish that is desire driven, or is it something that that is grounded in God. Will you pray for me?

What doy’all want to be when you grow up? How can I pray for you?

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