Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Day at the Beach

January 26, 2013
A Day At the Beach

Here we are in Houston, but this is no vacation. We are here to get answers from MD Anderson regarding our future. Getting here was a miracle. We submitted a request on Friday, received a call on Tuesday and were in the doctor's office Thursday morning.  Over the next week I will be poked, prodded and scanned as we seek answers to questions. Between appointments there are days of time when nothing is happening. On these days I desperately want to be home with my boys, but travel back and forth is just not feasible. So Rodney and I try to pass the time.

Yesterday we drove to Galveston. We needed sun. We needed to be away from sickness. We needed normal. It is funny how God will speak to you when you get away like that. Here are a few lessons from our day at the beach.

As I stood with my feet in the sand, the waves would wash up and swirl over the sand, changing the surface with it's power. I could feel the sand shift beneath my feet where I stood. The thought occurred to me that God has the power to do that in my life and with this illness. With a wave of his hand he can wipe away all traces of disease. I knelt and wrote the word Thymoma in the sand. I stood and watched the wave wash it away. I claim that kind of healing in my life. I look forward to the day when it is all washed away!

As we walked further down the beach I saw sea gulls standing in a line parallel to the water's edge. The waves would come in and wash right up to the line at their feet and they would retrieve the meal that had been delivered to them. They didn't frantically run around looking and searching. They stood, patiently waiting and their needs were met. I have a tendency to run around, impatiently trying to solve problems. Those of you that know me well know that problem solving is something I enjoy. I am pretty good at it actually, but now we face a problem that I cannot solve. Now I have to tap into my "inner sea gull". I have to stand, face the one who has power to deliver, and patiently wait. He will deliver.

It was time to return home. I am still recovering from major surgery so my stamina isn't up to par yet. Tired, yet refreshed, we got into the car for the drive back to the city. As we drove, I closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed waves of mercy would wash my illness away. I prayed all of our needs, especially those of my boys, would be met. I prayed treatment would not require more of them than what a child should have to go through. I prayed for help. As I opened my eyes and raised my head, the very first thing my eyes saw was a billboard. That billboard read, "God Listens".
My day at the beach taught me my God has the power to shift the sands of my life and wash away my fears. It taught me to stand patiently and wait and at just the right moment he will deliver just what we need. It taught me "God Hears". Funny what you can learn at the beach when you are not on vacation!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jesus in a Pink Sweater

Recording the little things that happen each day during this journey has become a way for me to remember that I am blessed. They are not stories about me, but of people and actions that have touched me. Jesus in a pink sweater is one of those tales.

I was in the hospital for the eighth day. I had been moved from ICU to a regular room. It was so good to be able to shower, but I was unable to lift my arms to fix my hair. A sweet nurse had braided my wet locks for me the previous two days, but on this day she was not on duty, so I sat in my bed with the prior day's slept-in braid, no make-up, my healing scar peaking over the neck of my designer (not) hospital gown. 

My husband, father and another guest sat visiting with me, when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an elderly lady in a pink sweater walk past my open door. She said something to herself as she walked by and then turned back around to step into my doorway. She said, "Honey, you are too young and beautiful to be in this hospital. " A nurse that had entered the room said, "She is beautiful, isn't she?" and continued with her duties. I felt like looking around to see who they were talking about. I was anything but beautiful. I wouldn't use the term beautiful on my very best day, much less on this one.

The lady in pink asked me when I would get to go home.  I replied that I hoped the following day. She looked me in the eye and said, "I am going to be praying for a long and healthy life for you." With that, she turned and left my room. Her surprise visit touched my soul. It was very obvious to me that she saw something I couldn't see.  She saw me the way my father (earthly and heavenly) sees  me. I felt as though Jesus had just stepped into my room to tell me how he sees me. He doesn't see the scars, his are greater. He doesn't see the hair and make-up. He knows they aren't what make a person beautiful. He sees his child and he loves her. He thinks she is beautiful. He intercedes on my behalf and I truly believe he asks his Father for me to have a long and healthy life. I saw Jesus that day. He was wearing a pink sweater.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hand-stitched With Love

Sometimes blessings come in the most unexpected ways. I have been blessed beyond measure by the amazing things God has done in my life during the past ten days.  I will never be able to record them all, but this is possibly one of the most visible gifts God has given me.

When we learned that I would have to have a sternotomy (cracking the chest) to remove tumors from my chest, I experienced a wide range of emotion. There was fear for my health; anxiety about the surgery; and dread for the scar that would forever mark my body. The scar would be a lifelong, visible reminder of the journey. I dreaded seeing the rope-like scar down my body, but in times like this there is little choice but to accept and move on.

In a last ditch effort to minimize the scar, I asked the surgeon if it was possible to use something besides staples to close the incision. I had heard the use of glue might reduce scarring. In response they apologetically told me, "Absolutely not. We always use staples to close the wound to lower the risk of infection. And we leave them in longer than most as a precaution." I swallowed and replied, "Well, I had to ask."  So be it.  

Surgery took place. That is another story. Days after surgery, my bandages were removed. As people entered my hospital room, and caught the first glimpses of my scar, they all made the same comment. "I don't see the staples. That is much smaller than I expected."

As I would look down, I agreed it didn't have that serpentine appearance I had expected , but I would reply, "Well, they must be there because they said there was no other way."

Days passed, I slipped in and out of awareness due to pain medications, but on one particular morning I was more alert as the surgeon's nurses entered my room. I said to them, "Tell me about this scar..."

They didn't allow me to even finish my statement when they began, "Oh my goodness, we couldn't believe our eyes. We walked into the operating room as they were closing your incision. The doctor who was closing, was carefully doing two layers of stitches to safely close your chest and prevent infection and then he sealed it with glue. We have NEVER seen him do that ---EVER. We told him that we had prepared you that you would have staples. He responded, "She was just so young and sweet that I wanted to do this for her."

Unbelievable. I had never met this particular doctor. He had no connection to me. We had never spoken and yet when he looked down on me, he saw something, and was moved to give me a gift he had never given before. His hand-stitched gift will forever remain as an emblem of God's love for me. Through this man's handiwork, God shows me He cares about the details.  I am eternally  grateful.  When you see me, you will see my scar. I will not hide it from you, because it is one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given. I am hand-stitched with love.