Monthly Archives: March 2010

Ocracoke

Having a great time in OBX! We took a ferry over to Ocracoke. We ate a fabulous lunch at Dajio’s on the patio, did a little shopping and got some ice cream. I thought you might enjoy our humor at the ice cream shop.

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Waves of Fear

Waves crashing.
Creeping.
Beckoning me to come.
Loud and frightful,
cold,
amazing,
Loud as thunder,
first I watch.
then I wait.
I admire.
Then I tease,
like I can,
as if I have control.
It teases me back.
I run.
The waves catch me,
it feels cool,
refreshing,
So I tease again.
The water tickles my toes.
This time I let it,
welcoming the cold.
Choosing the uncertainty.
Allowing the waves to cover me,
just a little.
Amazed that I can withstand the fear
of being so close,
to something so majestic.
Something larger than words can describe.
I won’t run from this fear.
I will welcome it.
Embrace it.
Reminding me of my frailty.
Reashuring me of my existence.
Chasing me.
Teasing me.
Releasing me.
Back to the ocean,
again.

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Fractured Rib

So I called my new doctor today about the chest x-ray I had last Friday. When he got on the phone I thought, well, he’s either super personal or somethings wrong. Here’s how the conversation went:

Dr. Little: “Well it shows you have a fractured rib…are you in pain?”

Me: “Um, I don’t think so.”

Dr. Little: “Really. When was your last bone scan?”

Me: “Diagnosis.”

Dr. Little: “Let’s go ahead and have another one done.”

Me: “Um, so there’s a fracture on my left rib?”

What I really wanted to say was “What in heaven’s name does that mean?” But I don’t think he knows. A bone scan will tell us more.

I emailed my oncologist and she got back with me this afternoon and said radiation often weakens bones. Probably just a fracture.

Jeremy thinks my marathon cold this winter with a bad cough resulted in me fracturing a rib.

So here’s the deal. I have noticed some pain on my left side but it’s up near where I’m always a little sore from radiation, so I would imagine that’s where it is.

I do remember having pain in my left side on Sunday a few times and thinking….”wouldn’t that be just like me to get appendicitis right before our vacation.”

But the pain hasn’t been long or consistent, so I haven’t thought about it much. I even ran a 3 mile race on Saturday!

We’re headed to North Carolina, and I refuse to let this rain on my parade. I do plan to have fun and not think about cancer (too much anyway).

I am really very optimistic that this is just from radiation and nothing more. I need to remember this is my life and I can’t ride every wave. So don’t worry for me. But do pray for me if you think about it. I like that very much.

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Fighting with Both Fists

I hate to think about recurrence.  But when a nasty cold and cough holds on for several months, I begin to worry.  That, and several blogger friends who were diagnosed around the time I was diagnosed have recently found out their cancer has metastasized.  It just hits me hard.  I think about them a lot and I start asking “what if” again.

Yesterday I decided I needed to find a new doctor.  You guys know I’m an advocate for being assertive when it comes to your health, and I really had just been letting my concerns with my current provider slide by.  But I can’t let it slide.  I need to be aware of my health.  As scary as recurrence is, I can’t ignore my health issues because I think I can’t handle another diagnosis.

I had driven by an office near my house several times and I noticed only one name listed as a provider.  My concern with my new provider is that they don’t really know me.  I have one doctor, but if I’m sick I usually don’t see him, I see one of several doctors who can fit me in.  So my concern is that someone is missing something.  Because I’ve seen two different doctors since I’ve been sick and I don’t feel like either one of them are taking note of my medical history.  Sometimes I wonder how long I would be passed around before they connected the dots, ya’know. 

So I went to this new doctor and I plan to stay.  I really enjoyed meeting with him, and talked to him about my concern that this cough and cold has been around for so long.  He said we should go ahead and get a lung x-ray.  It’s weird, because on one hand I want this, and on the other hand I don’t.  I don’t want to know that cancer might be back.  And to be honest, I’m 99.9% sure it’s not.  This could just be a cold that converted to allergies, but still, it worries me.  And thank goodness this doctor seems to get that.

I was honest with him, I might get annoying sometimes as I do freak a little about recurrence.  He’ll probably see me every 3 or 4 months for a while with little nagging things that I worry might be cancer.

But you guys know, I’m doing all that I can to stay free and clear of cancer.  And I can run 3 miles, which makes me believe it’s not in my lungs.  And I eat things like black bean brownies, and lot’s of fruits and vegetables.  If it’s back, I don’t have regrets that I didn’t do as much as I could possibly do.  I’m fighting with both fists.

Next week we leave to North Carolina’s Outer Banks for a much-anticipated family vacation.  I desperately don’t want to get bad news before this vacation.  I want to be cancer “emotionally” free for this vacation.  I want to live like cancer doesn’t exist for one crazy, fun-filled week!  

It’s sort of like winning an Oscar and being on top of the world and then finding out your husband has been cheating on you.  (Sorry, I just had to add this because I like Sandy)  It’s like working hard, flying high, minding your own business, then “bam” shot right out of the sky.  Cancer (like cheating husbands) are so rude!

So if you wouldn’t mind saying a little prayer for me.  That my sickness would go away.  That the x-ray would be clear. 

And strength.  Just in case I have to face this again.

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Black Bean Brownies

Yes, you heard that right.  Black bean brownies.  Someone told me about these back when I was on the Daniel Fast.  I was intrigued.  Jeremy groaned.  He isn’t very fond of me adding vegetables to a dessert and beans, well, that is just too much for him to comprehend.  I do this quite often so at some point he will adjust.  Not sure when, but someday soon I hope.  I like being a sneaky chef.  I do it so my kids will eat more vegetables, but I also do it for my husband and myself, because quite honestly, I like food, but I don’t like empty food.  I love feeling like I’m fighting cancer with the food I eat.  So I’m going to start telling you about the happy food I eat that is also good for you.  How’bout that!

 Black Bean Brownies:  With sugar here, and with agave here.  I’ll be honest, the agave is going to be better for you because agave is unrefined and natural.  But it’s also expensive.  So I made the sugar one with less sugar and made it with half agave. 

Here’s why these are so good for you (and tasty too!)

1.  Black beans are loaded with antioxidants!  They are considered a antioxidant superstar along with grapes and cranberries.  The darker the coat, the higher the antioxidant level!

2.  Fiber, fiber, and more fiber: black beans and other beans are useful foods for people with irregular glucose metabolism, such as diabetics and those with hypoglycemia, because beans have a low glycemic index rating.  So eat your chocolate and sugar with black beans….what a plan!

3.  Black beans have cholesterol lowering fiber.  You know what to do with those brownies then…..dig in!

4.  Here’s something extra special, and near and dear to my heart.  I ate two when I read this:

“A study published in Food Chemistry and Toxicology suggests not only that black beans may help protect against cancer, but that whole foods naturally contain an array of compounds that work together for our benefit. When researchers fed laboratory animals a 20% black bean diet to see if it would cause any mutagenic or genotoxic activity, not only did black beans not promote cancer, but a clear reduction in the number of pre-cancerous cells was seen, even in animals who were simultaneously given an agent known to promote cancer, the mutagen, cyclophosphamide.”

Have I given you enough reasons to make black bean brownies as a treat?  I hope so.  And do tell me what you think.  I love sceptics!  And if you’ve read to this point…..yes….it was a thumbs up for Jeremy!

*health info from whole foods web site.
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A Home In Haiti

45 Days till it’s officially hurricane season in Haiti.  Not really sure how well a little tent will hold up in a big hurricane, but at least some shelter is better than none at all or these flimsy sheets tied to sticks in the dirt and mud.  I’m joining in the effort to get tents to the 650,000* (yes you read that right) displaced Haitians.  I know I can buy a tent but I’m thinking about doing a drive in our local area…anyone from Kalamazoo want to help?  Maybe you can help too from where you are.  You can buy, donate or start a drive.  Check it out here.

And while you’re at it.  Make sure you watch the video too.

*Red Cross Statistic

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Shepherding His Sheep

A few years ago my husband and I attended a young adult church plant in the area.  We loved the desire for authentic faith.  The hip atmosphere.  The coffee brewing in the background.  We liked the emphasis on community.  Then something happened.  It, well, shocked me.  The pastor stood up before the service started and announced that a person in the church was struggling with pornography and that he had been approached by himself and the elders and he would not admit his fault, it was ruining his marriage and his family and we were no longer to have contact with him.  If we saw him in the grocery store we should be kind, but not seek him out. 

He was being banished.  (Those are my words, not theirs, and because it has been several years, nothing is in quotes because I can’t remember the exact words well enough to quote it, but this is how I remember it.)

At the time there was ABSOLUTELY  discussion about it in the church.  Sure, lots of people were upset.  No one felt very good about it, whether they agreed with it or not.  And at the time I remember thinking, this doesn’t feel right, but at the same time, I also admired the leadership for wanting to be Biblical in community.  It seemed to me their hearts were in the right place.

Fast-forward to today.  Jeremy and I have gone back to the Free Methodist Church (this is the denomination I’m ordained with) but a few friends still go to this other church.  From time to time I hear of them banishing someone else.  One person they banished was a longtime friend.  This is when the banishing’s started to hit home for me.

Scripture says something to this effect in Matthew 18:15-18 that we’re supposed to remove the sinner….right?  Maybe we should read it again….here’s what the NIV translation says:

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

What does it sound like to you?  I don’t see “send him away,” do you?  So what does it mean to “treat someone like a tax collector or a pagan?”

Well here are some questions I ask when I read this passage:

1.  Who wrote it?

Matthew?  Not totally certain here.  But if it was Matthew here’s something ironic.  Matthew was actually a tax collector before Jesus called him in to ministry?  So when it says “treat” him or her like a tax collector, maybe it’s not really about “excommunicating” or “banishing” as it is about gentle prodding or continued encouragement?  Jesus didn’t give up on Matthew because most tax collectors were corrupt back then.

2.  How did Jesus then treat tax collectors or pagans?

Well, I just mentioned one above, but what about Luke 19:3-7:

“Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.  When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”

Does it look like Jesus banished Zaccheaus?  Now, I know we want to say….well Zaccheus wasn’t a Christ follower?  Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t?  Maybe he was a new Christian still trying to figure out his way?  It was the people who called him a crook, not Jesus.  Jesus went and had dinner with this man.  I have to think this did more for him than walking away from him.  Banishing him from Christian community?

And pagans?  Those who didn’t believe in Jesus.  We like to think of pagan’s today as people involved in witchcraft.  But basically, pagans in first century Christianity could mean a lot of different things, but mainly Greek mythology and the worship of many gods.  Most of Paul’s writing is to help early Christians understand what it means to be a “christ-follower.”  There’s a lot of confusion in the church as to what “Christianity” should look like.  Paul was busy preaching good stuff.  Pagan worship was spastic, whereas Christian worship had order (this is why Paul tell’s women to cover their heads….because they were thrashing around.  He doesn’t mean it for all times….he just means for them to cool down….they aren’t to act like pagan worship…which they didn’t fully understand till he taught them).  Pagan worship involved child sacrifice.  Not good stuff.    

Did Paul banish pagan’s?  Did Paul banish new Christians who still had a LOT to learn?  Not that I can tell?  He certainly rebukes them, but he doesn’t stop giving them access to community.

What about Jesus?  How did Jesus feel about people who didn’t know him or who needed guidance?

Mark 6:34 says this:

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

In fact, if you look at the gospels and the way Jesus lived, I think it’s interesting that Jesus was far more critical of those who were arrogant and haughty than the sinners. 

He used gentleness, kindness and compassion with sinners.  With the Jewish Pharisee’s he doesn’t necessarily rebuke their teaching, but it is a recurrent theme in the gospels that he challenges their behavior and haughtiness.

So here’s what I think.  I’m not saying there is never a place to excommunicate someone from the church, but aren’t we all sinful?  Seriously.  Are any of us without sin ever?  I’m still in process.  I look at addictions, and I think, goodness sakes, how hard it would be to battle depression and alcohol.  How sad is it that a man has grown up in such a perverse society that all his acceptance and self-worth is found through calling a phone number to hear a woman coo about his masculinity?

I’m not saying we should not ask someone to step down from leadership or maybe take a break as a member of a congregation for a time while they work through some deep stuff in their lives, but to remove them entirely?  Send them away rather than shepherd them, comfort them, encourage them, help them see the truth?  We are all on this journey called life.  We are all “groaning in creation as we await our heavenly adoption”  (Romans 8:22-23) Sure we have to be careful we don’t lead others in to sin, but aren’t there better ways than to say go away till you confess and clean-up?

We are meant to be in community and we live by Christ’s example.  As far as the man I mentioned above with pornography addictions.  Instead of removing him from community, maybe the right thing was to move his wife and child to a safe home while the men in the church continued to love and challenge him?  We will answer someday as Christians to how we respond. 

“‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

What do you think?

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Day #15 of My Daniel Fast

Yes, I’ve been doing a totally vegan, yeast-free, sugar-free, coffee and chocolate free fast now for 15 days now.  I avoid any place that gives me a whiff of coffee.  Seriously.  I avoid that isle at the supermarket entirely, except for when I need herbal decaf tea and then I plug my nose and race by.

So I’ve been reading through Proverbs during my time alone during this fast and I’ve also been re-reading a few chapters in The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Here’s the resounding theme I keep hearing in my head:

Shut up!

OK, not those exact word, but something close to it. Here’s a nicer way to put what I’m learning:

Detoxing from our consumption laced society, whether it’s food or noise, is a good thing if it means we step back, examine our life and inner thoughts and draw closer to God.

Here’s what Foster says about solitude:

“Inward solitude will have outward manifestations. There will be the freedom to be alone, not in order to be away from people but in order to hear better. Jesus lived in inward “heart solitude.” He also experienced outward solitude.”

Here are a few times Jesus went off by himself:

Matthew 4:1-11 when He went to fast and prepare for ministry in the desert.

Luke 6:12 when He was about to select his disciples.

Matthew 14:13 when He received word of John the Baptist’s death.

Fear of being alone drives us to create noise in our lives. Solitude frees us of being influenced by others, impulsive decisions, and distractions that keep us from truly focusing on our source of life and hope.

Here are a few ways to build the discipline of solitude or silence in your life:

1. Plan for it. Organize times for solitude like you would a meeting for work. It might be an hour or a weekend, but make time and write it down.

2. Go unplugged. You can’t really get solitude with kids yelling in the other room or the TV on. Avoid competition. Turn off the radio on your drive home from work.

3. Take it outside. Quietness and listening to the gentle sounds of nature go hand-in-hand.

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