Wednesday, November 29, 2017

One fish...two fish...guess where this is going?

The tiny red and white bobber disappeared under the water for a moment.

"Reel it in," I said.

My granddaughter, holding her little pink fishing pole, looked at me and started reeling.  With that, the hook got snagged. She pulled, the line snapped, and the bobber went flying our way.

I raised my hands, hoping to block potential damage to either one of us, as the line flew by and settled in the grass beside us.

We looked at each other and smiled.

"Let me see," I said.

She handed the little pink pole to me and looked up. Her big blue eyes were framed by dark eyelashes and wispy blonde bangs.

She looks so much like her mother at that age, I thought. I'm the grandmother, not the mom, right? Where'd the years go?

I studied the nylon line. We'd only lost the hook. Probably stuck in a lily pad.

I shifted my weight forward, hoping to retrieve the hook from a nearby plant. The bank was steep. And slippery.

I glanced back at my little granddaughter, sitting in the grass with her knees pulled up under her chin.  From here, I wasn't sure I'd be able to stop her if she tumbled.

Not worth it, I thought. Neither one of us needed to fall into the canal.

Besides, she's 2. She won't even know if there's a hook on the line or not.

I returned to her side and tossed the line back into the water, where the little red and white bobber bounced in the ripples.

The day was sunny, with clear blue skies and a cool breeze.  When I pointed out the green grasses growing in the canal, she surprised me, adding, "And the lily pads."  Yes, she was right. There were green lily pads.

After awhile, we set aside the fish pole and tossed our bait (bread) into the water.  "One, two," I said, "look over there...three, four..."  We counted big fish and little minnows.

Even as it was happening, I knew this was a moment I'd forever treasure.

It was sunshine and blue skies.  It was an instant, yet a lifetime. It was love then and love now.

In that minute, I remembered my own own own experience as a mother.  It was an incredible heart squeeze. The love felt poignant. The love seemed endless.

Sitting on that bank, time stood still, and, yet, for an eternity, I glimpsed the perpetual love of God.

So much in one little instant.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.   2 Peter 3:8

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it

Following the Leader                                                                         
By Debra Tomaselli

This story dates back over 20 years ago. The events told here took place just months before my dad was diagnosed with cancer.  (You can read his story here).  This story opens a new chapter of my continuing story of God's abiding presence and care.

Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it.
by Debra Tomaselli

I never aspired to be a Brownie leader. 

When my daughter’s third-grade troop leader announced she was retiring, I slipped behind the curtains, hoping another mom would step forward and play the leading role.  Helen and Carol offered assistance, but nobody assumed leadership.

That’s why, when I awoke one morning, I fought the sudden urge to become the troop leader.  Where is this coming from? I thought.  I don’t want to be the leader.  I tried to suppress the idea for days, but it wouldn’t go away. 

I finally addressed Helen and Carol. “If you’re willing to help, I’ll be the leader," I said. "I don’t really want to do it, so I hope someone else offers.  But if we still need…”  I was swept in and inaugurated faster than I could finish the sentence. 

“We’ll work with you,” Helen assured me.  She mentioned an already-scheduled event that I would oversee—a camping trip with a Girl Scout troop.  The older troop would earn a badge by hosting the camp out, and the dates were set.

“Sure,” I said.  Inwardly, I cringed.  With a husband who traveled for business, and two other children at home, this added commitment was daunting.  Why was I doing this?  What had gotten into me?

Just weeks before the camping trip, I underwent a routine physical.  Although the doctor didn't seem overly concerned, he called and asked me to repeat the lab work.  A week later, the doctor’s office phoned again, citing, once again, that it was probably nothing serious, but they scheduled yet a third lab session, saying it may be due to technical problems. 

I felt a bit annoyed. Especially when Linda, the other troop leader, invited me to grocery shop with her for the trip that same day. I explained the situation and why I had to decline. 

Linda began asking questions about my blood counts, using terms I'd never heard before.
"Are you a nurse?" I finally asked.

"No," she said. "I had cancer years ago...non-hodgkins lymphoma."

With that, she shared information about her former battle with lymphoma, admitting she didn't usually talk about it.  When I hung up, I felt a little less annoyed.  After all, I didn’t have to deal with cancer, just an incompetent medical machine. 

We went on the camping trip that weekend. The time together developed a friendship I never would have found in Linda.  As she shared her experiences with the cancer diagnosis, her faith inspired me.

Just days after returning home, the physician’s office phoned again.  My husband had just left town on a business trip. T(his, I might add, was before cellphones. There was no way to reach him.)

“Due to the abnormalities in your blood report,” the lab technician said, “we’ve made an appointment for you with an oncologist...Cancer appears…”  The conversation blurred as I struggled to comprehend the words.  The news left me reeling.

Shaking, I drove straight to my daughters’ school, even though dismissal was still an hour away.  I didn't know what else to do. The whole way I prayed, “Please let Linda be there…Please let Linda be there.”  I knew she’d understand like no other. 

When I arrived, one lone figure appeared in the breezeway:  It was Linda.  

I parked my car and headed straight over to her.  

She looked up. "Hi," she  said. "How are you?"

I burst into tears, explaining the phone call I'd just received, informing me there were abnormalities in my blood and they'd already set an appointment for me to see an oncologist next Tuesday.

"What problems?" she asked. "Did they give you any numbers?"

Yes, they did. I smoothed the crumpled piece of paper I'd jammed into my pocket, and studied my scratchy notes. When I read my SED rate, Linda burst into tears.

"Who are they sending you to?" she asked.

I read the name: "Dr. Robert Reynolds," I said.

I'd never heard of him. When it came to oncologists in my town, I might as well have opened the yellow pages, closed my eyes, circled my hand above the page and let it land randomly on a name. I knew nothing about anyone in that profession.

"I know him," Linda said. She squared her shoulders and regained her composure. "I went to him. He's wonderful. You'll like him."

I wiped my tears. A surge of hope pumped through my veins.


"Yes," she said. "He's the best. He is so caring. He called me with my (good) test results over the weekend even though I had an appointment Monday morning with him. I'd never had a doctor do that." 

We sat on the concrete step outside the Catholic school our kids attended as she calmed my storm. There wasn't anything I couldn't ask Linda. There wasn't any fear I couldn't admit. She'd been there. She knew.

By the time the dismissal bell rang and the kids rushed out to us, I was able to carry on, strengthened by her understanding and support. 

Over the weeks that followed, I was diagnosed with lymphoma.  Linda walked beside me, offering inspiration, faith, strength and hope.  I thanked God, who called me to be the Brownie leader, not only for the children, but to show me that He’d be there for me every step of the way, if only I would follow his call.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts

give thanks

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Here's to a little light reading in the chemo lab...

Most of us like having a purpose. We like to interact with others.  We like to set goals and achieve them.  At least, I do. It's a part of who I am...but lately, as I remain housebound, battling the relentless side effects of cancer treatments, I wonder...what is my purpose?

My calendar, once filled with business meetings, volunteer work and social engagements, now tells a different story. It's filled with doctor appointments, ER visits, and hospitalizations.

I never expected to face relentless health issues.

One recent day, the sad state of affairs discouraged me. What is my role? Where are the coworkers? The social engagements? The volunteer activities? What are my goals?

As I pondered these questions, an inner thought surfaced.

Being a patient is your business now...that's what's assigned to you at the moment. 

Suddenly, instead of wishing those medical appointments would disappear so I could get on with my life, I realized this is my life...and while it may not be what I expected, I've been divinely assigned this mission.

Managing my health is work, it's hard work. For now, it's my role. The doctors, nurses and fellow patients are my coworkers.  Who knows what they'll learn from my experience? Who knows what I'll learn from them?

Once again, I've got to let go.  Accept it.

I'm living the life God ordained for me for today. (Most likely, you are too.)

I have a purpose and it's no less important than my former life. My goal is to know, love and serve God...wherever and however that takes me.

Let it go...what a peaceful thought.

That, my friend, is the Joy of the Full Surrender.

(By the way, yes, I was reading that book in the chemo lab last week.)

Thank you for being here. I hope you'll like listening to this beautiful melody by Hillsong, entitled 
I Surrender All. Click here to listen, and have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Wait...did she really just say that?

Sometimes we are surprised by what we say. Sometimes we're enlightened by what others say. Sometimes, as in this case, the words are profound.

This happened long ago. My husband and I had been married a few years. Long enough to have a little daughter. Long enough to want to expand our family. Long enough to have endured three miscarriages.

Sometimes I dealt with the miscarriages by spending time alone. I didn't need to hear that it was better to miscarry, since something was probably wrong with the fetus. I didn't need to hear that God needed another angel. I didn't need to hear someone was glad it happened early in the pregnancy.

Nothing made it right...

But I didn't slip into depression either...Other times, I accepted the love and support  of family and friends.

The miscarriages were a disappointment...a big disappointment...but my husband and I had hope. We were optimistic. We'd try again.  Maybe we'd adopt.

I'd been home from the hospital a few days after the third miscarriage when a neighbor called. I didn't know her well, but she seemed concerned and wanted to come visit.

I remember sitting at the table with her and chatting. I barely knew her, but the conversation was engaging. We talked about our kids and the neighborhood. We shared common interests in tennis and jogging. She asked about my miscarriages and I told her. I learned she was a nurse at the local hospital.

Finally, she stood to leave. "Thanks for having me over," she said.

"Anytime," I replied. "It was fun."

As we walked outside, she paused, turned and looked at me.

"Tell me," she said. "How do you stay so positive? Wasn't it difficult to have all those miscarriages? How do you cope?"

Her question caught me by surprise. I shrugged my shoulders and threw my hands in the air.

"I don't know," I said. "God's will. It's just God's will."

I'll never forget her reaction.

She shook her head and murmured. "Those people with faith...they just seem to handle things better..."

With that, she left.

Her remark struck me as odd. Had she been expecting a little drama?  Besides, at the time, I didn't really consider myself a 'people with faith'.  What did she mean by that? 

She never contacted me again. I don't even remember her name.

But now, decades later, I've never forgotten her visit...or the truth nestled in her comment...and maybe she hasn't either...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 
"If anyone wishes to come after me, 
he must deny himself, 
and take up his cross, 
and follow me. 

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; 
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Matthew 16: 24-25

My life hasn't returned to normal since chemo began in 2015. I'm still constricted by the debilitating side effects of the ongoing cancer treatments. Sometimes I just want to get on with my life. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing nothing meaningful. 

As I read this passage, I realize nothing can be further from the truth.

Maybe life isn't rolling out quite the way you expected either. Maybe you are facing unforeseen challenges. But we can find peace. 

We can surrender our will to the will of God. We can choose to carry our crosses...Joyfully. 

There, at the foot of the cross, we find meaning and peace.  

Soon I'll tell you how I read a book called The Joy of the Full Surrender and the impact it had on me.  

But, for now, I share this scripture.  

In a nutshell, it says it all.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ever wonder if prayer makes a difference?

 I was talking to my cousin Sharon yesterday about the helplessness we felt while watching the nightly news. I found myself encouraging her to pray for the perpetrators and the victims when suddenly I remembered the following story, published September, 2014. Sometimes  prayer is 'all we can do.'  Sometimes, as in this story, it appears to be enough. 

Hovering Wings
by Debra Tomaselli

I knew something was amiss when I arrived home to the sound of a helicopter hovering over our neighborhood.  It hung in the air beating an ominous tune while I unloaded groceries from my car, put them away, and headed toward the computer. 

I keep the accounting journal for my husband’s business and I planned to enter a long list of invoices that afternoon.  As usual, I checked my e-mails before starting and discovered a neighbor had issued a warning:  Residents: Lock your doors and stay inside.  A gunman is loose in the area. Will keep you posted.

I shook my head, but felt strangely calm. Rather than fear my own safety, my thoughts turned to the distraught gunman. How desperate he must be, I thought, to resort to hiding behind the barrel of a gun.

With that, I began the tedious task of inputting vendors, dates, dollar amounts, and purchase order numbers.  As each invoice was completed, I checked it off and moved on to the next.

About an hour later, with the helicopter still beating incessantly, another email appeared.  The gunman is holed up in an apartment nearby, it said.  Swat teams are at a standoff with him. 

A wave of compassion swept over me.

How desperate, how alone and afraid, small and powerless he must feel, I thought.  And as horrible as his life must seem now, I reasoned, it most likely was about to get worse.  I whispered a prayer for the desperate gunman and proceeded to enter the next invoice.

Helicopter wings pounded overhead as the urge to pray grew into outright compulsion. Something was pushing me to pray, and trying to ignore it was like trying not to blink for thirty minutes. I couldn’t disregard it.  It was uncontrollable. It had to happen.

Suddenly, I jumped from my computer and raced to a picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that hangs in my bedroom.  There, I dropped to my knees.

The prayers gushed forth. 

I prayed for the gunman.  I prayed his fear would subside.  I prayed he wouldn’t complicate matters by harming others.  I prayed Jesus would intervene.  I prayed for a peaceful resolution.  I prayed for the stranger’s conversion. 

There, on my knees, an intense litany surged forth for this unknown gunman.  Finally, after about 20 minutes, I relaxed.  The prayer was done.  I stood, looked at the picture of Jesus.  He’s in your hands, I said, turned, and walked away.

I returned to my desk and finished invoicing. 

The helicopter still hovered when my husband and I went out to dinner that night, but when we returned, the skies were silent. 

The next morning, I searched the newspaper for information on the incident before finding a brief article:  Altamonte gunman surrenders, it said, after holding police and swat teams at bay for over seven hours. He submitted peacefully at 7:40 pm.  No shots were fired.  Nobody was hurt.

Want to hear a beautiful song? Click here for 'Lord of all Hopefulness'. I love the prayerful lyrics and the images presented in the video and hope you do too. It's something beautiful to behold.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Amazing grace, right?

Does God Speak to Us?

“I don’t know why, but I have to go, and I have to go now,” I said. 

My husband, just home from work, was clinking coins from his pockets into a green ceramic dish on our dresser as we discussed my idea of taking the kids on a road trip to visit my dad. 

At the time, I didn’t realize how profound those words were.

The thought of traveling surfaced weeks earlier, but I resisted it. After all, my husband, due to work commitments, couldn’t go with us. Although I loved road trips, I hesitated to travel alone with our young children.  I felt vulnerable staying in a hotel without another adult.  What if our car broke down? What if I got lost? What if I needed help? (This was before GPS. This was before cellphones.)

My husband, also concerned about our safety, tried to talk me into waiting for a later date.

But I couldn't. By the time he could join us, the kids would be back in school.  

I knew that if I didn’t visit Dad now, it would be another year before we’d be able to consider the trip. With the kids out of school, summer was the perfect time to go. This was my one shot at getting there this year. Despite my fears, I felt an urgency to make the trip.

My own words surprised me: “I don’t know why, but I have to go, and I have to go now.”  

With that, my husband and I ended our discussion. We called Dad, set dates, charted maps, made hotel reservations, and serviced the mini-van. 

I’ll never forget that moment, or the subsequent trip.

The kids and I visited Dad at his vacation home in the mountains of upstate New York. The kids laughed and giggled as Dad pulled them in a trailer attached to his ride-on mower.  He gave them stuffed Dalmatian puppies and battery-operated horses that galloped and whinnied. We roasted marshmallows on an open fire and feasted on gooey s’mores.  When it came time to leave, it was a sad farewell.

That Christmas, Dad planned to come to visit us in Florida, but he didn’t. Health concerns kept him away. A cancer diagnosis followed, and the following spring, Dad passed away.  (See previous blogs)

Had I waited another summer, the opportunity to take the kids on a road trip to visit Dad would have been gone.

Looking back, I believe it was God who, despite my fears, prompted me to take that trip.  When my husband and I discussed the pros and cons that decisive afternoon, God spoke to me and through me. 

I needed to go, and I needed to go then.

I'm so thankful I did.

Since then, whenever a nagging inner voice insists I do something, I listen. I pray. I discern. I respond...not quickly, not impulsively, but over time; days, maybe weeks, I listen to be sure it’s a call from Heaven itself.   

Always, I’ve been amazed at the wonders of His touch.

Click here and let's Shout to the Lord! (Hillsong).

Friday, November 10, 2017

Here's how to love

Often we speak of love as if it were a feeling. But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving, we may never learn to love well. The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our loving cannot be based in that feeling. To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.

Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is. When we 'do' love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.

(This is an excerpt from the book Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dynamic Catholic leads us in prayer today...let's do this!

Dynamic Catholic's Blessed Reconciliation program is now available! The prayer on page 1 (below) is so meaningful (challenging) that I had to it share with you. Wait til you see it! 

In it, I suppose every person includes even the most difficult personalities...I'm guessing unexpected changes in our plans (like my surprise hospital stay) could be considered an adventure...And I'm thinking a desire to change and grow, as mentioned in the last paragraph, requires sacrifice and commitment. 

Enough. Let's pray it. With a little perseverance, may we be blessed; able to sculpt our human nature into something beautiful, as described here:

God, our loving Father,
thank you for all the ways you bless me.

Help me to be aware that every person,
place, and adventure I experience is an
opportunity to love you more.

Fill me with a desire to change and to grow,
and give me the grace to become
the-best-version-of-myself in
every moment of every day.


Thanks for praying with me. One of our granddaughters, who will soon make her first reconciliation, is enjoying this program. Frankly, so are we!

Dynamic Catholic offers enriching books and programs for individuals and parishes.  
Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Here's what this cancer patient taught me

“Have a seat,” the receptionist said. “They’ll call you shortly.”

I surveyed the waiting room, hoping to find someone to chat with. I sat near a stately woman with silver hair, but she was reading a magazine. Across from her was a man who resembled a bulldog. He was texting. In the corner sat a brown-haired woman, staring at a home improvement show blaring from a nearby television.

Nobody connected.

Moments later, another patient arrived. He had a spring in his step and a smile on his face.

“Hello, Mr. Mike,” the receptionist said.

“Hi,” he responded. “Beautiful weather today, isn’t it?”    

Mr. Mike signed in and turned his gaze toward the waiting room. His face lit up when he spotted the bulldog man.

“It’s great to see you again,” Mr. Mike said. “How are you?”

The bulldog man broke into a smile as they shook hands. 

“Pretty good,” the bulldog man said. “But I’d be a lot better if I didn’t have to be here.”

Inwardly, I grunted in agreement.  Surely we all did.  After all, we were cancer patients awaiting chemotherapy treatments.

“Oh, come on,” Mr. Mike said, wrinkling his nose and glancing around the room. “We’re all in this together. You don’t like coming here?”

He addressed bulldog man but his question fit each one of us.

“I love this place,” Mr. Mike continued. “These people are great. They do wonderful things here.”
Initially, I agreed with bulldog man. I didn’t want to be here today. I was annoyed that I had to endure cancer treatments. Recovery was much too slow. The chemo was working, but side effects had me struggling.

Mr. Mike’s words humbled me, breaking through my grumpy attitude. I cringed to realize how ungrateful I was for all that had been done for me.  My life had been saved. Had I lost sight of the goal?

Mr. Mike looked my way, then back at bulldog man.

“Dr. Reynolds is my oncologist,” he said, lowering his voice. “How do you thank the man who,” Mr. Mike’s voice choked with emotion, “who saved your life?” 

Just then, the nurse emerged. “Debra,” she called. 

I exited the waiting room with a nod at Mr. Mike.  I may never see him again, but I’ll always remember his poignant words: 

How do you thank the man who saved your life?

Cancer or not, it’s a valid question for all of us.

We are all in this life together, struggling through the trials of this earthly existence, headed for a heavenly destination. Thanks to the salvific work of one man, our eternal lives have been saved. 

Are we grumpy or grateful? Do we realize all that’s been done for us? Can we see the goal? Can we grasp the gift?

 If so, I think we’ll have the attitude of Mr. Mike. We won’t be sulking in this waiting room called life, hiding behind magazines and television screens.

Instead, we’ll radiate joy. We’ll be thankful. We’ll encourage each other.

We’ll find a million ways to thank the Man who saved our lives. 

And we’ll never forget.

Thank you for being here! I wrote this story last year, but it strengthens me as I begin another round of cancer treatments today.   

Click here for Matt Maher's song, Lord I Need You. I do, I certainly do.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Part VII - Looking for love that never fails? Here you go!

It's amazing how God addressed each person's need when Dad passed away. You might recall that, as Dad battled cancer, his wife called one day asking me to come visit as soon as possible. "He's not dying or anything," she said, "I just feel like you need to be here."

Maybe you remember that the very next day, my husband just happened to be flying out on a business trip to a destination somewhat near Dad's hospital. At the end of his convention, he planned to rent a car and travel to meet me at the hospital where Dad was. 

I flew out Saturday, after making arrangements for our three school-age daughters to stay with a neighbor. Both their family and ours planned to attend our church's annual family camping retreat the following weekend, so I made plans to return Thursday night. 

Deep down, though, I knew that might change. I didn't know what I'd find once I saw Dad, who had been battling cancer, and I needed to be flexible. 

"I'm planning to come back Thursday," I told the kids, "but if Grandpa needs me to stay longer, I will."

"What about the camping trip?" one of them asked.

I told them I made backup arrangements for them to go to the camping trip with family friends if Dad and I couldn't be there, thinking that would make them happy and keep their schedules normal.

But before I left for the airport, our 8-year-old pulled me aside. Her little hands were shaking. Her lips were quivering. She looked up at me, her big blue eyes brimming with tears. 

"I want you to come back for the camping trip," she said, fighting the inevitable tears that spilled. "I don't want to go with somebody else."

My heart broke. I wanted that too, but I couldn't promise it.

"I'll do the best I can," I said. "But if Grandpa needs me, I'll stay a little longer. Don't worry. It'll be okay."

I tried to tell her the camping retreat would be fun with her friends, but she wasn't convinced. She tried to be brave, but tears silently rolled down her cheeks.  

Of course it was difficult. It's tough to face life and death issues. I could tell it rocked her world and that made me very sad.

I didn't know what I'd find when I flew to New York to see Dad. His wife said he's not dying or anything....but something told me otherwise.

If you follow my blog, you'll know that I arrived Saturday and spent the weekend in Dad's hospital room. He sat up and greeted me, but never really spoke again.

Then my husband Joe unexpectedly changed plans, left his convention, and arrived a day earlier at the hospital. It was Monday. Because Joe was there, and there was no room for both of us to stay in the hospital room, Joe, my stepmom and I all went back to the house that night. It was the first time I'd left Dad's side.

Dad slipped away later that evening. I think he knew we'd all be together, able to offer strength and support to each other, when the call came in. It was good we were there for each other. Joe is such a rock.

Back then, burials occurred three days after death. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had traditional wake services for Dad. Burial was Thursday morning.

Remember my flight home was for Thursday night? Before I even suspected I'd be in New York for a funeral? Thursday night, not morning, not afternoon. Nope, it was for Thursday night.

I offered to stay longer and help my stepmother. In the end, she encouraged me to take my original Thursday night flight home.

"I have a lot of family that's flown in for the funeral," she graciously said. "I have lots of support right now. I'll be okay. Go home. Your family needs you."

What a blessing she was.

Guess what?   By the grace of God, I took the Thursday night flight home. 

Guess what else?  Friday we attended the Family Camping Retreat. I never realized what a gift it would be to be surrounded by the prayerful, graceful support of our church family. Not only was it good for the kids to be there; it was an incredible gift for me too. 

That night, as we lit candles for the outdoor church service, my eight-year-old looked up at me. "I'm glad you're here, Mom."

Me too. I was glad too.

When I recall this story, it still amazes me how God addressed everyone's needs so succinctly. We would never have guessed that Dad would pass away while I was there, or that Joe, unprompted, would arrive just when we needed him most, or that, despite all that happened, I'd fly home in time for something so important to one little child...the family camping retreat.

Amazing, isn't it?

I stand in awe of a God who meets all our needs. He is with us in every situation, in every detail, no matter our age. We are all important. We are all precious. We are all heard. He knows us intimately. Indeed, the very hairs on our head are numbered.

Click here for a song, One Thing Remains by Kristian Stanfill

Click here for Part IPart II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI of this story. Each installment reveals the astonishing care of God during this time.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Whaaaat? HIDA scan revealed whaaat? Did you say that word surgery again????

I woke up early, heart pounding from the nightmare. Fear washed over me. What if I really did need surgery again? Two surgeries in a matter of weeks? Not what I wanted...definitely not.

As I lay in bed, fear washed over me.  So I do what I always do in that situation...I went to weekday Mass.

Oddly enough, that day the sermon was about miraculous healings and how, when healing doesn't come, we unite our sufferings to those of Christ.  A friend of mine leans over and whispers to me, "Seems like that sermon was meant for us."  (I love the way God reminds us that we are never alone.)

As always, I receive Communion. As always, a divine exchange takes place. I entered that church clinging to my fears. I left with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. 

Later that day, my surgeon called.

After exchanging greetings, he said, "I have your test results. You have gallbladder dyskinesia. Your gallbladder is not working properly. It needs to come out."

Surprisingly,  I felt no fear. His words didn't shake me. My response was truthful, but not emotional.

"What?" I said. "That is not what I wanted to hear. That is not what I thought you were going to say."

"I know," he said. "I know."

"I really don't want more surgery," I said.

"I know," he replied. "That's up to you. I'm just giving you the test results."

Joe and I met with him the next day. 

While it's not exactly what I wanted to hear, the news is good. Unlike the appendix issue, this can wait. It could wait forever. It's my call.

Today, it's a non-issue anyway.

After all, I'm starting new rounds of cancer treatments next week. We don't want to do surgery at the same time if we don't have to. And since the oncologist is adjusting the treatment plan this time, hoping to alleviate my debilitating side effects, we want to wait and see the results of those changes.

One thing at a time.

I'm content with that. 

So now, dear Lord, you've got me here. You answered my prayer. Thank you. No more surgery, at least for now.

There's one more prayer. Use me. Lead me. Guide me. Help me. You have me here for a reason. May I be your light in this world. 

As always, thanks for listening. Click here for Lifesong by Casting Crowns.

I can't stand it when things don't go my way...but here's a prayer that helps

Lord, I take all you give,
and I give all you take.
--Mother Teresa

I heard this prayer, attributed to Mother Teresa, while watching TV Mass one evening. 

I had just, unwillingly, but wisely, declined a writing project with deadlines extending from May through September.
The assignment involved research, connecting saints to acts of mercy in today’s world. I love good news stories. There are so many selfless giants right in our midst.  
When asked to do the project, I quickly responded: "Yes!" 
Within hours, however, I realized upcoming cancer treatments and the resulting debilitation would conflict with my ability to the meet deadlines.   
I wrestled with the fact that I wanted the commitment, and that the project would be enriching, but in the end, I knew I couldn't deliver. 
I cringed, composing my declination email. This wasn't what I wanted. I love writing. I love projects like this. Fighting tears, I pushed the send button.
I was angry that I had to relinquish something I wanted so much.  
Then, along comes this prayer:  Lord, I take all you give and I give all you take.

It couldn't have surfaced at a better time:
Twelve simple words...They changed everything.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem , and he told them what would happen to him there. He ...