Beautiful’s Burden

Harvest Asparagus

I was blessed growing up in many ways.  One of those blessings (although at the time, it didn’t always feel like one) was having a job harvesting asparagus. It started in the spring, and we would get up early before school, (when the temperatures were just above freezing) to be ready to work as soon as the sun provided enough light to see.  I remember my first trip down the row.  It dropped down a hill so I couldn’t see the bottom.  If I looked up to try to see the end, I was overwhelmed with the task.  Everyone else had done this before and they all seemed so capable.  The size of the job and my lack of experience was crushing down on me.  I remember my sister telling me, “Just look down at what your doing and you will get there before you know it.”  That was the key.  Focus on the individual asparagus, knife, grab, and on to the next.  Before I knew it, I was at the first dump bin.  Then the next. Then the next.  And finally the end of the row.  It turns out my sister’s advice is pretty good regarding most things in life.

Beautiful is in that exact situation now.  We felt like we had this cancer thing pretty well in hand.  Yes, she is still in pain and yes she has a lot of healing to do, but we felt like we were managing it pretty well.  The medicines were mostly happening on time (I missed one last night for her and that created a lot of extra pain).  The kids, with the help of neighbors and other friends are being cared for. Our neighbors, friends and church family are providing meals so I can focus on the rest.  All in all it seemed like things were going pretty smoothly.  The best part is all the reports we received were incredibly positive.  The surgery was an incredible success.  Her pathology reports showed the cancer had not spread and all seemed well.  We were starting to look down the row to see how far we were before the end.  That was when we discovered, we still can’t see the end.

We met with the Oncologist today and he explained that she had the best type of cancer you could get.  She had a very small cancer that had only invaded a small area.  It was not aggressive and it tested positive to respond to hormones (which means it can be controlled by reducing them).  Fantastic news!  But there was an anomaly.  Her cancer also tested positive for HER2  which is most often found with large aggressive cancers.  There are no studies for effective treatment of HER2 positive cancers that are very small because it is very rare to ever have that situation.

The doctor was well into the treatment he was recommending before it registered that he was talking about Chemotherapy.  That was a “I just want to sit down in the row and not move until they plow the dirt over me moment.”  Everyone has seen the results of chemotherapy, but not everyone has lived it.  We haven’t yet, but we have done enough reading to know it is hard.  It is hard to endure and it is hard to watch your loved one endure it.  What made it harder still was the fact that it was so unexpected.  It seemed like things were going so well.

And truly they are.  We are still stuck in the middle of the row we can’t see the end of, but we know who made the row.  We know that He made that row just for us.  He made it so we would be perfected in ways that we could not be otherwise.  Today, I don’t know what that future work will be or how this will change us, but I know it will and it will make us better fit to serve Him.  We just need to keep our heads on what we are doing.  Knife, grab and on to the next one.  The glorious end will be here before we know it.


Tomorrow, You’re Only a Day Away!


We have always tried to teach our children to plan for the future, but live in the present.  People waste their entire lives thinking about tomorrow and when they wake up, they find it is still another day away.  Lately, we have been in that mode ourselves.  Fortunately, there has been plenty to keep us focused on today so Tomorrow didn’t  seem so BIG.  You know, little stuff, like a wedding, children starting 3 different schools, cabinet making (okay, I only made one – it turned out pretty well, but I don’t have time for more), etc.

Well, our tomorrow will truly arrive when the sun comes up.  It is the day that has loomed large on our calendar for over a month.  It has been talked about, prayed about and planned for.  Tomorrow is the day Beautiful begins treatment.  When we wake up, Beautiful and I will scurry around getting ready, we will wake the kids for school and we will head for the hospital before they are fully awake.  She will get prepped for surgery and after an hour or two, they will get started.  Five hours later, it is supposed to be over.  It all sounds so simple and clinical when you think about it like that.  The reality is that it is far from that.

Thunder asked me the other day, why I thought God allowed Beautiful to get cancer.  Part of his question is a desire to know, but part of it is also a desire for the comfort that everything will be okay.  I explained to him that we may never know the answer while we walk this earth, but we do know that God does.  God knows because He allowed it.  He only allows things into our lives that make us more like Christ. So, I explained that what He allows either tears down the part that is not Christ in us, or it builds up the part that is Christ in us.  The good and the bad are all part of that process.  We don’t understand the how anymore than we understand how prayer changes us, but it does.  So, we are prepared for our tomorrow.

“…what He allows either tears down the part that is not Christ in us, or it builds up the part that is Christ in us.”

Our tomorrow is based on what the doctors think  they know.  They will be the first to admit, that they can’t know more until tomorrow.  That means we will go into surgery with one plan, and we may leave surgery with a completely different plan.  That will depend on what they find tomorrow.  If Beautiful’s tumor turns out to be in the state they believe it is, she only need endure months of recovery and the frustration of not being able to care for her children the way she would like, and the way they are all used to.  It is difficult to Mommy effectively when you can’t raise your hands over your head or pick up more than 5 pounds.  If the tumor is not in the state they believe it is, there will be many more tomorrows of treatment before she can consider herself on the road to recovery. 

One of those Tomorrows will be tough.  Many more tomorrows will be MUCH harder to endure.  So, we go to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask that He provide the Tomorrow that He knows is best for us.  We ask that you will pray with us.  Pray that Beautiful, and our entire family would direct the world to God tomorrow.  Pray that the children will seek comfort in Him tomorrow.  Pray the that doctors will know wisdom and will see God’s design in all that He does tomorrow.  Pray for patience for us, while we wait out what His will is for us tomorrow.  Tomorrow we will find out.  It is good that it is only a day away.   

Butterfly Kisses

Mr and Mrs

Our Princess and her Prince Charming were wed yesterday.  I couldn’t be happier!  Everything, and I  mean everything, was perfect.  Yes, it could have been a little cooler.  It might have been nice to have had more cool beverages on hand for guests to enjoy.  The cake could have been a little fluffier.  I am sure if I dwelt on things long enough, I could come up with a list of things that were not perfect.  But those things don’t matter one bit.

Beautiful and I focused on preparing her for this day for as long as I can remember.  You see for each of our children, we try to prepare them to be a good spouse.  Our world is geared around teaching them to be good at everything else, but very little preparation is ever given to ready them for committing to another person, by choice through thick and thin.  On the contrary, we live in a society that seeks to eliminate any kind of responsibility for anything.  Commitment is not something  that we hear a lot about.   That makes the lessons we teach as parents all the more important.

Yes, there was the usual household skill training that Beautiful imparted to her.  I tried to help Princess understand and engage as an equal partner that alien species called “Men.”  I like to think we did a  pretty good job.  Princess is excellent with her household skills, but she will clearly do it differently than Beautiful.  Princess is also great at spotting logic fallacies, articulating an excellent position and dialoging in challenging ways, while simultaneously enjoying things that normally interest those MEN.  Together we tried to model working together and sacrificing for one another.  Most importantly, we tried to show her that true harmony together, comes from true harmony with God.  Some days we did better than others.  All of that preparation culminated in a brief, beautiful and inspiring ceremony.     

You see this was the perfect transition from one story to a new story.  Our Princess has grown and blossomed.   Our Princess went from being one of many in our story, to being a partner in their story.   Yes, she will still be part of our family, and now, so is he.  But, it will not be like it was.  They have their own story to write, their own songs to sing and their own paintings to paint.  We are here as a foundation and a bulwark of sorts, but we are not central to their story.  They, and their relationship with Jesus Christ, are central to their story.  They will make decisions together.  Some we will applaud with fervor, while some will baffle and frustrate us.  But our approval no longer matters.  That all changed, when I placed her hand in his yesterday.

Our Princess went from being one of many in our story, to being a partner in their story.

For my part, as father of the bride, I was good with all of it.  I have watched her grow and blossom, and I was excited more than anything for her.  I was good with it all until the Father – Bride dance.  She selected Butterfly Kisses as the song.  I didn’t know she even knew that one.  It was my theme song for her for many years.  It describes exactly what took place yesterday.  My little girl spread her wings and became the Great Queen alongside her Great King.  I thank God for His mercy and blessing me to see this day.  That is why everything, was perfect, despite, the heat, and the cake, it was PERFECT.  I look forward to the chapters they will write together.