Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Hate Cancer

Does anyone like cancer? I would assume not. Maybe the Jerkface does. What a jerky jerkface.

Why would the Jerkface like it? Cancer does more than harm bodies. It shakes faith. It turns people against God. It breaks hearts. All things Satan loves.

And things that I hate.

Cancer is awful. It took my mother at a young age. It took her father and her uncle. It took my grandmother. I'm always looking over my shoulder waiting for it to sneak up on me. That's no way to live!

That's why I'm participating in my local Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k walk for the American Cancer Society. No, my mom didn't have breast cancer. But if they can find a way to beat one kind of cancer, there's hope for beating all kinds of cancer. So I'm on board.

If you have a dog in this fight (and most of us do), I'm accepting donations on behalf of the American Cancer Society. I'm trying to raise $500 myself, and our goal as a team is $5,000. We'll get as close as we can!

Please click here to donate at my official American Cancer Society site. Thanks in advance for wiping away the Jerkface's smile.

Monday, September 17, 2012

You Are My Sunshine

All is well! I feel bad that I left you with an ER visit and then didn't tell you that I'm OK now. I had a complication after my surgery, but it's passed and I'm fine now. I appreciate all of your prayers!

Moving on...

I like to sing to my daughter. She loves it. She smiles and wiggles around, and she just can't get enough of it. My favorite song to sing to her is "You Are My Sunshine." I'm sure you've heard it:

You are my sunshine!
My only sunshine!
You make me happy
When skies are gray.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Isn't that sweet? Fun fact: it's Louisiana's state song. Sure beats whatever Indiana's is. "My Indiana Home," maybe? A song about "moonlight on the Wabash" is not quite as catchy as "You Are My Sunshine." What a happy song! What an uplifting song!

Well, you're wrong about that. Ever hear the second verse?

The other night, dear,
As I lay sleeping,
I dreamed I held you in my arms,
But when I woke, dear,
I was mistaken,
And I hung my head and I cried.

Oh. Well. Not quite so sunshiney, huh? I sing that verse, too. That's actually why I started singing "You Are My Sunshine" while I was pregnant. I really wanted my daughter to arrive, so I sang the verse about her not being here and how sad it made me. It's a truly depressing verse, so I'm not sure what compelled me to sing it to my belly. Hopefully it didn't depress my girl in utero. She's pretty smiley, so it doesn't seem to have fazed her.

Sometimes we like to focus on the happy things in life and ignore the less "sunshiney" parts. While I wouldn't encourage anyone to be a Debbie Downer all the time (which I was for the duration of my pregnancy—sorry!), you can't ignore the things you don't like about life.

Sometimes life is awful. Sometimes you suffer. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes you can't be sunny. Sometimes you have to admit there's a second verse where you feel like crying.

And that's OK.

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. - Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

When we experience sadness or trials, we grow. We learn. We become wiser. Jesus cried when things got rough. Jesus was scared. Jesus asked for his circumstances to change. That was the human part of him, so how much more would we, at 100% human, feel such things? The Psalms show every range of emotion—anger, sadness, happiness, and everything in between. We can bring all of those things to God. He wants to hear them. He wants to know our hearts.

Sometimes we as Christians feel like we have to put on a happy face and make people think things are fine when they're not. I used to be like that all the time; I used it as a shield. We've got to stop doing that. We're doing ourselves and the people around us a disservice. It makes people feel lousy when they're struggling and someone else seems to just dance through life with nothing bothering them. Yes, we have the joy of the Lord, but even the Lord knows life is going to be rough. He can carry our burdens. He can bring us peace. But there's a time to cry or a time to mourn (check Ecclesiastes 3). We're allowed that time.

But check I Peter 4:12-13:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Cry. Be upset. Pour your heart out to someone (especially to God). But then watch for God's glory to be revealed through your suffering. Will it make the suffering go away? Nope. But it may help you understand it a little bit better, and that will bring the wisdom.

Do you allow yourself to cry and grieve, or do you feel like you always have to have a cheerful front?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Need to Breathe

Yesterday, I had a surprise trip to the emergency room. I guess every trip to the ER is a surprise, but you know what I mean. I'm having weird pain after my gallbladder surgery, so they ran some tests to find out what the problem is. Nothing conclusive yet, so we'll see what the pain does in the next day or so. I apologize in advance for any typos—I'm lucky I can put together a coherent post with the pain meds. At least, I think I can...

George Clooney was not in my ER. Man!
The pain was right under my rib cage, and it got worse when I tried to breathe deeply. When I arrived at the ER, I could still breathe—with pain, but it wasn't impossible. I was still able to crack jokes with the hospital staff (per usual). After they got me into a room and I was waiting for the doctor, the pain got worse. I couldn't even take a shallow breath without severe, stabbing pain. I was dizzy and in tears. No more joking around, for sure.

I called the nurse to let him know the pain was much worse and that I was having trouble breathing. His response was, "Well, the doctor will see you when he can." And then he simply left.

But I. Can't. Breathe.

Then my husband arrived. (He had to wait on his parents to get to our house to watch the kids.) He saw the pain I was in and that I was having trouble breathing, so he went to the nurses' station and told them that I was in severe pain and couldn't breathe. Their response? "Well, the doctor will see her when he can."

Now, I know they need to see the most severe ER cases first. I know that. If someone's arm is severed or someone is bleeding and near death, they need attention first. I totally get that. I didn't expect a hoard of medical professionals to rush to my aid. But I expected someone to care. Breathing is pretty essential, from what I've heard. And it's scary not to breathe. I felt suffocated, and the more I tried to breathe, the less successful I seemed to be. I needed help.

Sometimes people can't breathe. Not physically, but emotionally or spiritually. They feel like they're drowning in their lives. They've experienced a tragedy, are in the midst of depression, or they're simply overwhelmed by life, and it feels like no air is available.

When we notice these people, what do we do? Do we come alongside them? Do we do what we can to help them breathe, whether it's prayer or simple friendship? Or do we say to ourselves the equivalent of, "The doctor will see them when he can?" and wait for someone else to take care of them?

As someone who is still working through some postpartum depression, I can tell you I've gotten mixed responses while I've been unable to "breathe." I've had friends who check up on me, pray for me, send me notes of encouragement, offer to help with the kids, try to get me out of the house and involved in my life again. They've encouraged me spiritually and emotionally, and they've done all they can to make me feel loved—whether or not I've been up to accepting it. On one of my really bad days when I first started thinking I might be dealing with PPD, one of my Twitter friends had me call her and she talked through it with me. I've never met Lauren Hale, but as someone who has experienced PPD, she knew I needed to talk to someone about it. So, essentially, even a stranger reached out to me because she could see that I was unable to breathe.

I've also had friends who haven't said or done anything to help. Not that I think they don't care about me (well, maybe they don't—I hope that's not the case!), but sometimes they don't know what to do or how to help. The result is that they just kind of ignore me until they think I'm feeling better. I'm not mad at them for it—I know it can be awkward when you don't know what to do or how to help. But it's a little disappointing, you know? And if you're one of my friends who's reading this and you think you may fall into this group, it's OK. I understand. I still love you!

I'd encourage you to take a look around your life. Is there anyone who seems to be having a hard time? Anyone who seems unable to breathe, emotionally or spiritually? Pray for them. Send them a note—even an e-mail—to tell them you're thinking about them and praying for them. You can offer further help if you feel prompted (meals, help at home), but offering love and prayer is doing something. Just noticing them is something.

You never know—it may be your love, attention, and prayer that helps them breathe again.