Sunday, November 23, 2014

Running Away

I had been running all my life. No, not THAT kind of running, but the proverbial, leave the scene and get out of Dodge running that defines cowards.

The first time I actually ran away from my life was in high school.

The phone calls to family members explaining my one day shenanigans stopped an early career in joining the Circus like my distant great aunt and planted my feet firmly on the ground. But something changed from that one day experience.

I realized that discontentment seeped into my soul and my taste of so-called "freedom" widened my desire to run away when I "grew up."

Almost ten years later I remember the day my thoughts of running away took a new turn.

I was on my bicycle, riding along a path next to a river led by concrete outlines, surrounded by huge boulders and an expansive and wide, blue sky. I was single and getting a good college education. I had clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, and food in my belly all from my very generous parents.

Yet my discontentment haunted me.

"Leave this town," it whispered. "Just jump into your car, get a job as a waitress under a different name and live off the cash you make."

Oh, the romantic thoughts of that let my mind wander down a dark, winding rabbit trail for a little while as I peddled my bike against the fading light of the impending sunset.

The practical side of me wondered about paying car registration, apartment rent, and gas bills without completing my degree.

Then, everything stopped in that moment, when I had one visual picture pop instantly into my mind.

The look of grief on my mother's face if I left.

Even though we were hundreds of miles apart, I just couldn't do it.

And I stopped that train of thought for good.

Or so I thought...

It was a few years into our marriage when I told Ryan about my desire to run away from my life because I hadn't really thought about it since that day in college. One day we were driving and I asked him if he wanted to see something cool.

He said, "Sure."

I just started driving. I told him it was what I did when I wanted to just "think" and get away for a while.

We went pretty far in silence, but then he started asking me about it.

I could tell my habit scared him.

And that scared me.

From that day on, I would self-reflect on why I would purposefully pass my exit in driving home in order to go further down the road. I would think about what I was thinking and then discuss it with Ryan when I arrived.

The years passed and I would still find myself driving further and further past our exit, only to turn around later, all in the name of having more thinking time.

And I realized that I was still running away.

But when Ryan got Cancer, I stopped running.

I was approaching my exit to go home and I realized how excited I was to see him after a Mom's night out.

Another time I was coming home from the grocery store with Talitha and I wanted to rush home to make dinner so I could be the proverbial housewife and reward my hard-working husband with a hot, home-cooked meal.

That day, I realized something:

I didn't want to pass my exit anymore.

I wanted to go home.

I looked forward to coming home to the life we have built together, the home we live in so comfortably and the fun we have as a family.

Paul says in the Bible that he "learned to be content" in all of the circumstances he faced and many of them were horrible experiences, to say the least.

Living with Cancer is an odd place to learn how to be content, but I can honestly say that I've become more content than I have ever been or ever thought I could be.

And now when I think about running away from my problems, I think about the prodigal son who, after all his money was spent and he was poor and pathetic, all he wanted to do was go home to his Father.

And his Father ran to greet him and celebrated his return.

So now, when I feel overwhelmed, I run, instead, to my Bible and pray about how to handle whatever life with Cancer throws at me. And I watch as my Heavenly Father runs towards me, and know I can tell him, unashamed of my failings, all that is in my heart.

And when He looks at me, puts His arms around me and rejoices at my return, I can remind myself that there's a much better place to run toward that isn't in this life, but in the life to come.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mercy and Compassion

I saw Mercy this morning.

She waved and said hello. But I didn't have time to stop and chat and walked hurriedly away.

I couldn't believe that she walked past me every day and I have been missing it for so long.

Yet, I'm grateful that I did get to meet her, finally. And that she's always available to me.

                                                       _____________________

It's late and she's had another potty accident, but I look at Ryan and I look at our daughter and I think about how she didn't get any time with her Dad because he was sick from chemo all weekend.

I turn on the Jonah movie from Veggie Tales.

We all curl up on our couches.

I'm so grateful for the time we had together.

Even if it's just to watch a movie.

Even if Ryan's still feeling crummy from chemo.

Right smack dab in the middle of the movie - it hits me. Larry, dressed as a pirate, begins to tell Junior and Laura the meaning of compassion and mercy, two items that are available on the menu at the seafood restaurant they are all sitting in -- for market price. He explains:

"Compassion is when you want to help someone who needs help.  Mercy is when you give someone a second chance... even if they don't deserve it! This story is about both of them!"

I think about all the times I've been shown compassion and mercy in my life.

In my marriage.

And also from my mother.

                                                              ______________________

God is the God of second chances. He says so in His Bible over and over again. I've been thinking about the passage in Lamentations that speaks about His compassions "failing not" and being "new every morning."

And I smile.

I am so grateful for the time I had with my Mom.

She died a year ago today, but I am filled with the memories of the times she gave me second chances.

For the past few days, Talitha and I have seen several butterflies outside and I always remind her how her Mimi loved butterflies too.

I think it's a little message of hope from God that my Mom is okay up in heaven with Him.

Plus, God is showing me reminders of my Mom because He is so compassionate and caring.

So the next time I see Mercy in the morning, (the 82 year old woman I cross paths with as she's walking her 7 miles in the hills near my home) it will be yet another reminder that His compassions are new every morning and to be thankful for the time I had with my Mom here on earth.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cracked and Broken

"Crack."

I felt the 40 year old bowl crack under my right hand and my heart hurt.

It was the bowl with the Mommy bunny tucking the baby bunny into bed. My mother-in-law bought it when she found out she was pregnant with Ryan.

And now it was broken.

Because of me.

                                                 ---------------------------------

I peeked around the corner, anxious to find the bathroom.

I was inside of a large group home that helped other children who had special needs and my Mom was visiting to see some friends of my brother's.

The staff had pointed me in the general direction but there were more than a few hallways and lots of unopened doors.

I was 10 at the time.

I decided to make a left and it brought me to a dark, short hallway with four doors.

Not realizing that I was opening someone's room, I started to try different doors.

The first one led to a dark room. I peeked through the crack of the opening I'd just made.

Then I screamed. Loudly.

His face was very, very disfigured. But he was still a little boy, almost as tall as me. We looked each other in the eyes and I saw his fear. Then his hurt.

Or was it my own?

I ran back down the series of hallways to my mother and flew into her arms. I was crying and told her what had happened. I looked at the staff member and said I should apologize, that I had opened the wrong door and didn't mean to barge into someone else's room.

But I asked for them to come with me.

I felt more confident going back there the second time. The staff member opened the boy's drapes and I could more clearly see his disfigurement. And his humanity.

I told the boy I was sorry, but I had gotten lost and was scared when he appeared behind a door I thought led to the bathroom.

The day after the incident I was reflecting on seeing the boy and my reaction to him.

I cracked his soul.

And I kicked myself.

                                                  -------------------------------

I scribbled down some general prayer requests. But then I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit. So I wrote one more line, four more words in small script:

"My Mom is dying."

I handed it to a friend in my Mom's group and she read it.

She knew I was broken.

And she prayed for the only One who could help me get through all of it.

That was exactly a year ago.

                                             --------------------------------

Today Ryan is on chemo again. We've decided not to keep track of the number of treatments but it's well over 50 now, I'm sure.

He's never done this before, but yesterday during and after his infusion at the hospital he worked a full eight-hour day.

He's back at work today, again, too.

His body is broken from the Cancer, but his mind is made up. Ryan is trusting God and persisting in the tasks that God has assigned to him while he still feels well enough to do them.

He is still providing for his family, having fun with hobby stuff, and spending time with God.

Please continue to pray for Ryan's healing. Thank you and God bless you!