Monday, December 29, 2014

The Miraculous and The Mundane


I remember that age so well! Filled with potential, adventure and promise - I savored the days, wanting to make them BIG and memorable, while I nearly burst in anticipation of what was coming next. I started college, graduated from high school, redefined relationships, soared high with accomplishment, experienced great devastation, and made some decisions that, unbeknownst to 17 year old me, carried life long impact. I felt powerful but small in the face of unlimited possibility. It was exhilarating, and the age I carried in spite of the passage of many years as "truly me" for a very long time.


This morning we awoke to our seventeenth wedding anniversary. Eric and I have laughed about "seventeen years of wedded bliss", and decided our true breakdown rather includes a year or two of newlywed shock, about ten years worth of sheer gutting it out, and five of beautiful, joyful delight. What's funny is that through all of it we loved each other fiercely...but for a stretch there were many days that felt more fierce than lovely.
 Ever since Eric's diagnosis I have been thinking about our vows. You run through with such quick certainty for better or worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health - till death do us part. I am often quite the optimist, and so while there was a part of my mind that acknowledged the possibility that the less desirable of those pairings could surface, I couldn't imagine with any particular definition what anything but the more enjoyable options might look like.
We, of course, would be brilliantly happy. The potential, adventure and promise ahead was saturated with possibility and I couldn't fathom a situation that our love couldn't conquer. I was so blinded with anticipation of what could come next that I wasn't prepared for the gravity of goodbyes to what had been; I cried through much of the first night in our new home while the moving van, fresh from Colorado, stood sentinel outside.

Prior to marriage, Eric and I had never lived in the same state, let alone the same home. We spent a summer together in the Colorado mountains as camp counselors, but were both romantically entangled with others at the time. Our relationship was one of immediate and lasting friendship, quick courtship, and lightning fast engagement. We racked up $500 phone bills (remember when that was even possible!?!), and I longed for the ability to just call to him from another room and hear him answer.  In my imagined scenarios he would, of course, always answer immediately, simply enamored with his lovely new bride and be completely interested in whatever she had to share/request/require - didn't our phone records prove how very valuable we held every little thing the other had to say? How much more would we love sharing every experience in person!
But, as every single married person reading this will know, that's not quite what it looked like in real living. Occluding the flashes of wedded bliss there were real dishes that needed doing, real money to be earned so that real food could be eaten on those dishes and a real roof kept over our newlywed heads. And, to my great dismay, there were actually times that I realized that my beloved husband wasn't really even listening to me! In those early months more tears were shed, harsh words were flung (as well as a few dishes!) and my visions of exclusively living in the realm of better/richer/health came crashing down.


With seventeen comes a bit more perspective. Over the years we have finally learned to work on our own stuff. We've, with intention, acquired a few skills to make this marriage thing work a little better. We've grown closer to our Creator and understand that the only way either one of us will have anything of worth available for another, is to operate out of our overflow from a relationship with Him. And I've come to believe that the sum point of matrimonial promise reduces down to The Miraculous and The Mundane. 

Marriage is so much less about finding the elusive "perfect" person out of the world of options, and so much more so about how you become shaped in life together. This is the one with whom you will sit front row witness to brilliant interruptions of the miraculous, and the monotony of the seemingly endless mundane. How we do both the miraculous and mundane will form who we are, and through each of those experiences we have great opportunity to change.

The mundane of a daily job - and my perspective of drudgery or delight. The mundane of housework - and my perspective of resentment at the ones making the mess or thankfulness for family and abundant provision. The mundane of daily childrearing - and my frustration with the unrefined or elation at realized growth. Through seventeen years we have shared these and millions of other mundane tasks, to do's, and activities, and if I can share one secret learned after their accumulation it would be this - real joy is hidden in how you approach the mundane. Choose to find the joy tucked deep in the mundane, for these are the tasks that shape our very lives. By nature the mundane is there, will continue to be there...until it isn't, and what's wild is that the mundane everyday little things are the first to be missed when they're gone.

But we also get to experience with this one person the miraculous. Bills paid when there was absolutely no way to cover them even a day before. Children carried and born out of your passion for each other, and delighted in as they come into their own. Healing. Recovery. Transformation. There are moments when all you can do is sit tight together and hold on to one another for dear life as the miraculous happens, often when you least expect it.

At seventeen I feel we have only begun to appreciate the miraculous and the mundane, only recently uncovered a "truly us" that is powerful and strong. I want so very many more years and the chance to look at everything that we have grown into now and laugh at the silliness of beginnings. I want to continue to experience the exhilaration of a life lived well alongside of each other.
I love you, Eric Trickey. I am beyond thankful that you are the one with whom I experience both the miraculous and the mundane.

Happy Seventeen.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Pie!!

Oh my goodness...Friends, you are looking at the physical embodiment of love. 

Last year I had Thanksgiving Pie for the very first time. My dear friend, Blue Skye, personal chef to stars, made this for our November Supper Club. Flaky, crumbly crust, homemade cranberry sauce, tender is all things yum. This year being my first GF Thanksgiving, I have been obsessing for two weeks over the idea of this delectable concoction, with calling and requesting the recipe from Skye on my perpetual-but-not-quite-completed to do list. (Did I mention that all this delicious is gluten free as well!?!)

Late tonight I received a text from another friend on her way home from dinner with Skye and family, asking if she might possibly be able to bring by a Pie over for our family. YES!! Can I even tell you how very loved and cared for I am feeling right now? Without any mention or having been asked, the very culinary desire of my heart has been met...I just love how Holy Spirit prompts and in love The Body responds. Thank you, my friends, for loving us so well!!

And as I am snitching still warm tastes inconspicuously from the edges, I think I will need to call for the recipe tomorrow. At the very least, with a big THANK YOU!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Thing Is...I DON'T WANT THIS!! (The "c" Word, Part 2)

It's been a busy while since I've last written - the Seminary Wives' Retreat went very well and was so much fun, the children's show was amazing and is now wrapped, and the painstaking cadence of chemo has been strung throughout. Tomorrow is a big day - the first peek inside since having started chemotherapy, and I have had echoes of our previous fight for insurance coverage in scheduling it. This week we also paid a brief visit to the hospital where Eric's diagnosis and surgery occurred, while visiting his dad after a neck surgery, and randomly ran into both one of Eric's surgeons and post surgical nurses prompting many emphatic hugs and How are you?'s.

It reminded me of the first week of all of this cancer business.

Evidently, there is a particular phrase that has reached frequent status in my personal usage. "The Thing Is..." spoken with particular emphasis on the word "thing", and followed by some declaration or another, can apparently be heard escaping my lips quite often.

Back in August, in urgent care, as we became more clearly aware that we wouldn't be leaving as quickly as planned, I began to mentally benchmark the places that salvation from what seemed to be shaping up could beautifully occur.  A mistaken identity due to a swapped test, an infection masquerading as tumor, carte blanche miraculous healing - each and every consulted expert, test and procedure felt rife with possibility for good news.

And each report stunningly came in with nearly worst case scenarios.

Hopes were kindly, although hesitatingly, permitted and then dashed procedure after procedure...I was escorted by the GI specialist himself to a private office to discuss his colonoscopy findings. Not good, but technically not a final diagnosis until pathology came back. When pathology confirmed cancer we moved quickly on to the necessary surgical colon resection (the tumor was blocking his appendix, which was threatening to burst), and his surgical team met with me, while he was in recovery, sharing particularly grim news. During their time in his abdomen they had a solid visual of his liver...and it showed visible evidence of metastasized tumors throughout. They took a biopsy of one of the tumors, and while path needed to officially confirm diagnosis, they were very certain of what it would read. I immediately asked about liver transplants as an option, and they said that in the US that is not available to anyone with metastatic, stage four disease. I asked every question I could think of and tried to force my brain to brilliantly uncover the information necessary that would unlock the hidden solution to all of this. They responded with great sympathy but few answers - while quite expert in the area of surgery they performed, we needed to speak with oncologists for more exacting prognosis information. It was late at night, and the remnants of friends and family members waiting for the last OR occupants overheard some of our long conversation. I was met with many tears, words in attempt of encouragement and well intended embraces as I passed back through the waiting room to the bleak hospital hallway. I breathed slowly and deeply so I could continue to function in sanity, and squared my shoulders to head back upstairs and meet Eric in his room - this night, at least, we still had some work to do. In order to heal, he would need to walk, and I could focus on helping with that.

After a long and sleep-sparse night, Eric had taken a couple of walks and was finally resting. I needed to grab clean clothing, shower a bit of the stale off of my body, and try to eat a little non-hospital food. As I drove home a song, Overcomerby Mandisa, began to play - I had not heard this song before, and come to think of it have not heard it many times since, but that morning the lyrics opened the floodgates. I sobbed nearly the whole way home, through my shower, and until I physically couldn't cry any more. I began to talk to God, audibly explaining exactly how I thought all of this needed to go and finished with a resounding near wail "The thing is... ... ...I DON'T WANT THIS!!!"

I felt nearly overwhelmed with fear. What-if scenario flashes of terror, loneliness and loss came in vivid and rapid sequence. While Eric lay sleeping in a sterile hospital bed, I flung myself onto our days old rumpled bedding in noisy sorrow and lamented everything that was unfolding.

And then I was quiet.

In that silence I finally heard what "sounds like a thought", as God lovingly and patiently asked me "Do you trust Me?"

The flood of what-if's returned in rapid succession. I forced them back with a "Yes! I trust You to heal him!" But He replied "Not do you trust Me TO, Do you trust Me?"

I tried again, "I trust You FOR complete healing...", "I trust You WITH Eric's health...", "I trust that You WILL save him!" And with each attempt I was overwhelmed with conviction regarding my 'hangers-on'.

"Do you Trust ME?"

And from that day, for me, my answer to His question has been the litmus of my battle. Am I trusting in our (excellent!) team of doctors and their support staff? In a particular medicine, plan or procedure? In insurance? In a diet, supplement, or environment? In Eric? In my own self?

The Thing Is...each day, in each situation within that day, I have the opportunity to answer His question. Where does my trust truly lie? Tomorrow, as my Love is injected with more chemicals than I even care to consider, as scans are made of his still strong body, and as we wait for more answers to our endless questions through this cancer ridden journey, I will choose to trust in the One who already knows every outcome. And repeat as often as I have to until it can be complete with no 'hangers-on'.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Fall

For the second year in a row, Eric and I have been able to take about a week of October to visit fall. We left the aftermath of a recent SoCal heat wave and drought inspired water restrictions for a few days in America's rain soaked and lake spattered Midwest. We've sampled many variants of Wisconsin cheese, reconnected with old friends from the seminary, tucked in a couple local tourist spots, enjoyed work and play with dear friends also collected from around the country, and eaten more sausages and brats than any human needs to ingest in such a short time span. All while feeling like we have been able to cheat an extra week from the cadence of chemo - it has been beautiful.  

And it has carried some hard. As much as I don't want to dwell in the mist of the past or the imaginings of the future, I remember last year's fall in New York and how blissfully carefree we played through the city. I wonder if we will have the same ability to frolic next fall, when we plan to return to the city that never sleeps. The shape of this coming year is still so unknown, although I do know that in reality, that is true of every year, every month, every single day. There is both a beauty and a hard to recognizing this unknown more frequently than before.

I am currently on a tiny puddle jump of an airplane connecting my way from Madison, Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri to speak for a seminary wives retreat. I am so excited to meet and spend time with the women there! And yet every time I have an engagement to speak, in the days immediately preceding the event I get caught in a period of rough. Yesterday morning it arrived with a vengeance.

What is silly is I often forget about this bout until it is quite on top of me. Or, maybe even more silly, I think I have conquered whatever shape or form it has previously taken, and therefore must finally be immune. In previous shades it has appeared as "I have absolutely NO idea what I am doing!!", or, "I cannot stand in front of everyone looking like THIS!", and, "I have zero credentials to be telling anyone anything...what am I thinking!?!"

But yesterday it was a bit different. It started as a niggling discontent that quickly blossomed into agitation. I put on praise music, to connect with God and begin to localize the source of my ire, but my usual feed had been replaced with a recorded baptism service. I listened, a tad annoyed (ok, I was in the shower and couldn't get to it to turn it off and grew increasingly annoyed), for a short while as one by one a stage full of individuals declared their love for the One True God, until I huffily dripped my way across the room to shut it off. This was not what I wanted - how can a girl connect with God which all this talking going on!!

My heart felt just under the very surface of my skin, and a few pesky tears fell as I applied my makeup. I was focused on everything that still needed to be done that day (our conference, finalizing my Power Point, and a very important fifth step sit down with a sponsee), the impossibility of the timing of it all, and I ultimately landed most heavily on the fact that I would be missing Eric's next chemo due to travel arrangements. Eric returned from his morning coffee run to a teary me,  hugged me tight and falteringly offered "Do you just want to stay in the hotel this morning and miss the session?"

But I didn't...I wanted to be with the precious people we were about to return to. "Good mornings" were exchanged, "How are you's" answered honestly, and more tears fell. I was enveloped in love and prayer. And during one specific prayer, asking for protection and peace, I felt my entire spirit drench with peace. Simple, extravagant, beyond understanding peace. I adjusted plans and released a vital item from the day's to do list, and received grace from the individual I was not going to get to. And the day went beautifully on.

And now I'm on my way, hurtling through the sky over the pastoral fall Midwest toward expectant ladies, bringing only what has been prepared through our mess and what I can testify has been done in me.

And God. Not that I'm bringing Him, per-say, but He will be there.

The thing is, God has only ever exceeded expectations. As broken, messy and doubt filled as I am, He always meets his kids when we call to fact He was there all along. And however  He uses this weekend, my part is to go, to be, to speak what He has done and release all of the rest. And every single time I have been privileged to do those simple things in the past, He has transformed them into outright amazing things.

If you are a pray-er, please cover us this weekend. Please pray for the incredible not-yet-friends that I am about to meet. For our loved ones, theirs and mine, in whatever circumstances surround them, that they are well at home. That these brave women who are about to be launched out into ministry are met exactly where they need to be in Holy Spirit Power. And that by that same Power I am able to stand and speak Truth, in full peace and love.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The "c" Word (Part One)

I had absolutely no way of knowing what the winds of change would blow in to my contented euphoria within the next short 48 hours...a gale force that made the possibility of moving to New Jersey meekly sigh in comparison.

What had already seemed to be a stormy summer, wherein the planned was repeatedly usurped by the urgent, was really only harmless preamble.

I asked, begged, that every possible outlier misconception could be true. A freak infection, paired with post alcohol induced cirrhosis. Even, as was kindly suggested (by someone for whom this WAS the case) rare liver "freckling".

I see now, in hindsight, that they knew on sight.

Let me back up a little...

This year I have been grappling with a diagnosis that has carried with it some unwanted change. I have Hashimoto's. It is an autoimmune disorder that wreaks havoc on the thyroid, which in turn affects every single cell of your body. It expresses itself in lovely ways that include excessive weight gain (and the inability to lose it), extreme fatigue, cystic acne, hair loss, mild to debilitating joint pain, brain fog and memory issues, hormonal fluctuations, and a myriad of other fun symptoms.

In February I finally met a doctor who listened to me and did not simply assume or flat out claim that I was lying to her about what I was eating - one previous actually told me "You really only just needed to stop sneaking bites of macaroni from your children's plates!" Really. I have in the last five years COMPLETELY overhauled nearly every single item that is ingested or applied to my body, run rounds with HCG, cut sugar, carbs, altered exercise regimes and even changed our cookware and storage to eliminate hormone influencers. To seemingly no avail.

Then I met Dr. Sarah Dalhoumi, who after drawing a nearly infusion necessitating amount of blood, was able - no, willing to look further into what exactly was going on. And a nearly 17 year battle with Hashimotos was the culprit. The good thing was, much of what I had already changed was what would best fight it (which in part, had helped mask and thankfully prevented some of the symptoms). The bad thing, in my opinion at the time, was that I needed to eliminate gluten entirely, as it mimics the antibodies that cause the autoimmune flare ups. I also started to take natural dissected thyroid medication, as well as maca supplements, a special supplement for a MTHFR genetic mutation, and a heavy hitting probiotic.

I immediately left that appointment and ate an entire box of Girl Scout Cookies. Actually, two. (In case you were wondering, Samoas and the peanut butter chocolate ones - I think they are called Tag-a-longs now.)

But the next day, I was on it. Back on it, with the new inclusions. Even gluten free. (I have not had "real" bread since February!!) Follow up bloodwork some months later showed progress, but the MTHFR mutation (which affects each cell's ability to metabolize and understand basic necessary nutrients) had room for improvement. And the next step was to add injections.

Self injections.

And I'm, admittedly, a needle wanny.

It was the end of July, the summer had been less than smooth, and I had to start stabbing myself in the buttock with a needle every three days. I wanted to see the results of balancing and reversing what my body had been fighting, within itself, for so many years, but it felt extremely dramatic.

Or maybe I am a bit dramatic.

I watched videos on YouTube for hours about how to properly prepare the injection site, painlessly (yeah, right) administer the injection, read what sites (either buttock) were most effective in receiving this medication...etc., etc., etc. I finally worked up the nerve to try the first shot, and when I had finally done it I felt such a surge of adrenaline (in part from the first dosing of the medication, in part from my accomplishment) that I literally burst out of my room, tripped and stubbed my toe on the carpet in the hallway. After...kind of...shoving my mother into the linen closet. (Sorry, Mama.) But, I did it!! And then I three days I would have to do this again.

During this entire time, God was reminding me of how He had told me, a VERY long time ago, to write through all of this. Through the years, every time I asked for miraculous healing and deliverance from especially the weight, he would answer "No, you have to participate in your healing. And I want you to write about it. But when you do, you will be blessed." I still argued, and didn't want to explore, in any way that could be even remotely public, all of this.

A few shots into my new regime, about a day after our family's explorative evening out, my husband came home from church with a mild stomach ache. There had been a potluck that afternoon, which newly gluten free me had skipped, and I teased him about whose food he must have eaten. He went to bed fairly early, which is not entirely uncharacteristic of him for a Sunday night  as his introverted self needs much refueling after the full expense of extroverted energy his "on" day requires.

Our daughter came to me that evening with a vision she had...we have this summer been exploring the Gifts of the Spirit in Children's Church, and she described to me in great detail what she had been shown.

I thought she was being a bit dramatic.  I wonder where she gets it.

I told her, however, to share with Daddy how she saw Holy Spirit near his belly - present, comforting, and healing. He smiled, thanked her, and sorely rolled over to try to get some rest. Around four something, he woke me up and asked if we could go to urgent care. Our family Sabbaths on Mondays, and he wanted to see what they had that could ease the pain to allow for a restful and fun day. The thought was run in early, get out quickly in time for maybe some Sabbath donuts on the way home.
Our "Super Quick" run into Urgent Care
But as that fateful Monday morning wore painfully on into a ploddingly difficult week, our daughter's vision took on an even more significant meaning than I could have ever imagined. Eric didn't really have careless coleslaw food poisoning after all.

Cancer. Stage Four. Metastatic throughout his liver. And all too quickly, the entire world as we knew it was turned completely upside down.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Poised on the Precipice of Change

Those six words have run through my mind for a few months now. You see, this summer has been one of a series of urgencies. As summer approached, I had in mind a litany of lazy days filled with audio books, water parks, beach days, "real" books, a giant garage cleaning/organizing project, and restful Sabbaths. In my intent these would be peppered with a handful of events we were specifically looking forward to - the kids' week of theater camp, a couple of almost-on-the-field baseball games, a Broadway show, Confirmation (and a beachside celebration to go with it), and tickets to a Cowboys game. I was also hoping to insert a meandering trip across the country in there, somewhere, to spend some time with my family.    

But, other things were in store.

My Grandfather's funeral prompted the cross country trip a little earlier than planned, after which GG, our old Golden Girl of a minivan, decided it was time to turn it in, allowing us to turn the page on the minivan years of our life. The children did get confirmed, but I hadn't returned home in time to plan the imagined seaside party. Thankfully Mimi and Papa joined us in California to celebrate, and Nana and Poppie were, of course, there too.

It was during all of this that Eric received a phone call feeling out his willingness to consider pastoring a church in New Jersey.

New Jersey!!

Now, here's the thing. I adore New York. Well, New York City - I haven't seen very much of the rest. Around this same time I had been having very vivid dreams about New York. (One in particular about looking for a specific leopard print pashmina that I neglected to buy while Eric and I were there last October, and in each rendition we would run into various individuals and would have an adventure...but I digress.) This church was in a bedroom community of The City.

But I have always wanted to live in California. Every single pore of my body responds with relaxation to the California beaches, breezes, palm trees and seemingly contradictory combination of laid back breakneck pace. I LOVE it here. I love being from here. I am crazy about the people we are with here - from our church family, extended Body of Christ family, 12 Step/AA family, school family, friends, neighbors, Starbucks name it, we are surrounded with some pretty special people. And none of them are in New Jersey.

When Eric first told me of this conversation, he asked me what I thought, and all I wanted to say was "No Way!!!" New Jersey evoked, in my unacquainted mind, the Saturday Night Live sketch where Fred Armisen derisively jeers "New Juuuurseey...", drunken air-headed escapades on the Shore, leopard print everything, and giant hair. (Although, considering the dream pashmina, in measured doses I do like a good leopard print.) But at the same time as "Nooooo!!" ran through my mind, an undercurrent of "What if...?" emerged as well.

And then the questions - Do I really trust that God has good plans for us? Do I need specific circumstances to experience joy?  Even specific people? Whose plans am I more intimately allied to, His or mine? Am I going to choose to perceive the unknown as negative, or potential adventure? Does the radical change that has been worked in our family's lives have purpose and legs beyond our current range of influence? I felt prompted to open my hands and release the stronghold on my ideas of what (and where!) we were to do, and began to open myself to the great unknown that lay ahead.

You see, one of the things that I have learned, although likely not definitively, but at least to a larger degree than I had embraced before, is that the only place that I will be fully free to move in power and peace is where I am Purposed to be. When I say "Yes!" to God's prompting Word and direction, I know that His provision will be there - even if from my vantage point I cannot yet fathom how. I also know that spending (wasting) time ignoring, arguing, or complaining about a clear path or directive only breeds discontent and covetousness in me, which have repeatedly proven to come out in the most un-lovely of ways.

So I said "Wherever God has planned is where we need to be. Let's see what happens." And internally I began to release MY plans to what was about to be revealed.

I felt quietly Poised on the Precipice of Change.

I saw increasing beauty as I moved through the SoCal summer days. I relished the palm tree lined, sunset view as I waited in the drive-thru line for In-N-Out. I breathed the balmy, salty sea air and dug my toes into the soft California sand, collecting shell treasures and my favorite white rocks with my children. I ever so tightly hugged the people we got to see regularly with precious release, knowing that this imminent and unknown change could number our otherwise frequent and unremarkable touch points. I prayed for clear and specific wisdom to recognize direction as it came, and was reminded minute by minute to rest, trust, and release. I loved and perceived for the minutia of what they were tiny moments of pleasure in the everyday activities of life here and now.

On one such night, late in July, our family took a walk to explore the brand new high school campus adjacent to our neighborhood. I relished the pause in our urgent summer, and looked forward to August - fresh with possibility, and from the heart work that had been happening impregnated with potential change. I thought we could salvage August, rest well, finish a few preparations and projects, and arrive ready for whatever lay ahead in a healthy mind frame.

But on this night, every detail seemed imbued with beauty. We walked through the perfect San Diego climate in an alternating four person jumble of hand holding, laughter, and teasing. The sky was a brilliant blue, streaked with pinky orange as the sun progressively set. Thalassa and Eric sang songs in preparation for their Joseph auditions, and begged for more stories of "when you guys were kids!" As we walked I tested and tried many campus doors and gates but to Eric's relief did not, technically, trespass. Eric, to my relief, continued to eagerly walk further into the campus, engaged in exploring as well. We then found a place to get some dessert, and headed happily home. I felt a sense of awe at how perfectly content a relatively unremarkable evening could feel, but at the same time knew that what was remarkable was how relatively new the ability to embrace content, in any situation, was for Eric and I.

If change was coming, we could weather it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I delivered my children late to musical theater rehearsal today. What is genuinely amazing is that it hasn't happened more often! Truly, this is progress. We were occupied doing such important things as pretending that we were still at California Adventure on Soarin' Over California using our just delivered essential oils (Cedarwood and Orange create a convincing case!), replying to Facebook inquiries on homeschooling (I'm for it!), and hammer cracking a giant bowl of filberts outside in our backyard. For an hour. At least.

So we pile in the car with four minutes to three, which isn't ideal for a rehearsal that we should arrive at by three and is 15 minutes away, but I remind the kids that it doesn't actually start until 3:15, so we will be good. And they flip out just a little bit. (As if I am the only one who was less than expedient with time over the last little while. Which I remind them. 'Cause I'm a good mom.) Evidently the time moved to 3:00, and there is clearly no way to get there on time at this point in the process. "Relax," I tell them, "arriving upset won't help anyone - let's enjoy this ride and I will get you there as quickly as I safely can." We arrive at rehearsal, I rush them in and wave apologetically at the director, who kindly smiles and waves back, and I pop outside to officially sign them in.

Now the sign in mom is ON it...she organizes/oversees tickets, coordinates hundreds of volunteers, facilitates email and communication, and at least a thousand other tasks that I am sure I have never even considered that contribute to the overall incredible-ness of these shows. And she's on time. More like early. Always. As she's checking the kids in, I ask her about a little job I need to do to complete my commitment hours.

One element of how our school puts on these truly amazing productions is parent volunteers - we literally (and in most cases, I think, happily!) sign under substantial financial penalty a commitment to contribute X amount of hours to the show. I have previously been able to be a part of the makeup team, and am signed up for that fun task again. But this show I have two kids in, which means double hours, and Joseph just doesn't have quite enough makeup to fill the hours - even if I get to be on facial-hair-gluing duty. So, other filler jobs are needed to meet my committed requirement. These smaller tasks were what I was asking her about.

She answered "No, don't worry about that. Someone's already specifically asked to cover your hours. You're all set."

Which is where I just about came undone.

One of the wild things about this whole experience has been the unpredictability of it all. From cancer's seemingly unprecedented and unannounced sudden emergence, to the arrhythmic symptoms or lack thereof that Eric is experiencing, to the unmatched and out of sync emotions we are both as a family and individuals experiencing - each day feels impregnated with surprise. Yesterday, chemo day number two, likely should have registered higher on my emotional Richter scale. But today, in reality, was. Eric began to experience some side affects, to which I playfully exclaimed "That must mean it's working!" And I kissed him and he went on his way to work.

And then I got a bit stuck.

So I began to pray, read my Bible searching out reminders of healing and promise, and perused Facebook for the comments and encouragement of our own gathered Town.

But while I was there I came across a post of someone whose sister was just diagnosed with breast cancer. And someone whose husband/father died this morning of cancer. And a very young celebrity who is battling the "c" word for the third time, this time colon, and has been hospitalized again. And of a stunning young mother of four who has just published a bookabout her journey through hard, but is steadily losing this terrible battle. In just the few blog posts of hers that I have read I already feel completely kindred and heart bound - the details of her story are very much her own and unique, but she has voiced many truths that have shown themselves in our tale-in-progress.

And this is where the highly unnecessary but inexplicably soothing activities involving essential oils and homemade Nutella began. It is why the overwhelming (truly - overwhelming) love and support of so many who have surrounded us, as represented today in volunteer hours, brings me to points of soul-unravel as I am forced to learn and walk a new, and honestly still uncomfortable, line of humble gratitude. Whomever is filling my hours, whomever even thought ahead of time that we even might need help with them - thank you. I know you already had plenty of your own to fill! Your sacrifice and love are beyond appreciated, and on a day that I could never have predicted experiencing a tearing need, your gift and love were just the right glue to mend today's undone.